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Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?

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11 December, 2020

If you drive a car in Denver or other parts of Colorado, you’ve probably seen sobriety checkpoints, also known as DUI (driving under the influence) checkpoints. Unlike many other states, Colorado does not make DUI roadblocks illegal but drivers in Colorado must understand their legal rights during these checkpoints to protect themselves from unwarranted arrests. It’s important to speak with a Denver DUI attorney to learn more about your responsibilities and rights at a sobriety checkpoint. 

Where are DUI checkpoints legal or illegal in the U.S.? 

Under the U.S. Constitution, sobriety checkpoints are generally legal; however, many states have their own laws and statutes that affect the legality of DUI roadblocks. According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, eight states prohibit sobriety checkpoints. The following states that make DUI roadblocks illegal under the state constitution, law, or statute are:

    1. Rhode Island (state constitution) 
    2. Oregon (state constitution)
    3. Michigan (state constitution)
    4. Minnesota (state constitution)
    5. Washington (state constitution)
    6. Idaho (state law)
    7. Wisconsin (statute)
    8. Wyoming (statute)

Meanwhile, the rest of the U.S., including California, Florida, New York, and the District of Columbia make DUI roadblocks legal as part of their efforts to combat drunk driving. While Colorado is also among the states where DUI checkpoints are legal, a roadblock can be deemed unlawful if the law enforcement violates guidelines for sobriety checkpoints. 

When are DUI roadblocks illegal in Colorado? 

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) warns motorists of upcoming sobriety checkpoints by posting advance notice of DUI roadblocks. Often, law enforcement in Colorado conducts sobriety checkpoints during specific holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Fourth of July, St. Patrick’s Day, and other holidays when alcohol consumption is high. Nevertheless, DUI checkpoints are illegal if they violate CDOT’s guidelines for sobriety roadblocks:

  • The roadblock poses too much inconvenience to motorists or creates traffic hazards 
  • The officers use a discriminatory procedure for choosing which vehicles to stop 
  • Failure to give adequate warning to drivers to inform them of the upcoming roadblock 
  • The department did not have official procedures to conduct the DUI checkpoint 
  • The officers set up a roadblock in an unsafe location 
  • The officers were not adequately trained to conduct the checkpoint 
  • The department failed to publicize the sobriety checkpoint before setting up the roadblock
  • Failure to assure the safety of the general public and police officers involved
  • The lack of approval from the police agency to conduct the DUI checkpoint

While the law enforcement’s failure to comply with the guidelines does not automatically make the DUI checkpoint illegal, it provides a solid ground for challenging the traffic stop and getting the DWI, DWAI, or other charges dropped or dismissed. Contact the skilled Denver DUI attorney at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC to investigate your particular case and help you prove that the sobriety checkpoint was illegal due to police violations of CDOT guidelines. 

What happens during a DUI checkpoint in Colorado?  

At a DUI checkpoint in Colorado, you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, although this refusal can result in suspension of your driver’s license.
Warning: At a DUI checkpoint in Colorado, you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, although this refusal can result in suspension of your driver’s license.

 

When a police officer pulls your car over at a DUI checkpoint, you will be asked to roll down the window. The officer will request to see your driver’s license and registration, and you are legally required to comply with the request. 

The police officer may suspect that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs if: 

  • The motorist has difficulty finding or handing over their license and registration 
  • The officer smells alcohol or marijuana in the vehicle
  • The officer sees an open container of alcohol, illegal substances, marijuana, or drugs in the car
  • The driver manifests signs of impairment, including slurred speech, bloodshot or watery eyes, slowed reaction, and others

If the police officer suspects a DUI, they will ask the driver to step out of the vehicle and may request the motorist to take a field sobriety test and/or a breath test, also known as the preliminary alcohol screening test. Note: The results of these tests can be used as evidence of impairment in your DUI case. Know that the field sobriety test and the breath test are optional, which means you have a right to refuse to take these tests without facing any legal repercussions. 

However, if the officer has a reasonable belief that the driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs, they can arrest the motorist for DUI of alcohol or drugs, DUI “per se” (when the blood alcohol concentration exceeds .08%), DWAI by alcohol or drugs (when the BAC level is between .05% and .08%), or underage drinking and driving (UDD)

Upon your DUI arrest, the officer will request you to take a blood test or evidential breath alcohol test. You have the option to choose between these two chemical tests. Under the C.R.S. § 42-2-126, a driver can face the following penalties for refusing to submit to a chemical test: 

  • Revocation of the driver’s license 
  • Designation as a “persistent drunk driver” (PDD), which requires a minimum 2 year interlock device in your vehicle as a mandatory term of driver’s license reinstatement
  • Mandatory drug and alcohol treatment and education program
  • Mandatory installment of an ignition interlock device (IID)

In addition to the above consequences, your refusal to take the chemical tests will be used against you as evidence of guilt in court.

Fight unlawful DUI checkpoints with a Denver criminal defense attorney

If you were stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Colorado and were arrested for driving under the influence, don’t hesitate to contact our DUI defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC to help you fight the charges and protect your driving privileges and rights. Give us a call at (303) 635-6768 to receive a free consultation. 

DUIs During the Holidays in Colorado

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23 November, 2020

Holidays are a time to enjoy and make merry. More people go to parties, consume alcohol, and unfortunately, engage in drunk driving. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) points out that in 2018, 1068 deaths caused by drunk drivers occurred across the U.S. and twenty-four of these deaths occurred in Colorado. According to the Colorado State Patrol, the number of deaths resulting from drunk drivers increases from Thanksgiving to New Years, with the most-traveled holiday period in Colorado being Thanksgiving weekend. As such, DUI arrests are highest between Thanksgiving and the end of the New Year’s weekend.

Many Colorado drivers do not realize the impact of even a small amount of alcohol in their system which can impair a person’s ability to drive and indeed, statistics reveal that each day, nearly 60 people are arrested in Colorado for drunk driving. 

Consequences of DUI charges 

Driving under the influence is a serious crime in Colorado with severe penalties. If you face DUI charges, you should contact a Denver DUI attorney immediately. An attorney will help you understand your legal options and how best to fight the DUI charges. The DUI penalties in Colorado depend on a driver’s prior DUI convictions and the BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) level.  A first-time DUI offense is a misdemeanor whose potential consequences are:

You can face a DUI per se charge if you drive with a BAC of 0.08% or more. However, you may still face charges even with a lower BAC as depending on the police’s observations, you may receive charges for DWAI (driving while ability impaired) even if your BAC does not exceed the allowable limit. The penalties for DWAI may be lower compared to a standard DUI offense:

  • A jail time of 2 days to 180 days. 
  • A fine not exceeding $500.
  • Community service for up to 48 hours.
  • 8 points against your driver’s license.

Every subsequent DUI offense that you commit will attract a harsher penalty than the previous one. Don’t overlook the importance of hiring a Denver DUI attorney even if your charges seem minor. An attorney goes a long way in determining the outcome of your case. 

Curbing drunk driving in Colorado 

During holidays, law enforcement agencies across Colorado increase their patrols to remove impaired drivers from the road. The officers set a lot more stops to conduct alcohol checks with patrols aimed at identifying DUI cases. The Colorado State Patrol also sends out more troopers during holidays to spot impaired drivers and take action. 

As a preventative measure, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) introduced the Take Some Time campaign to create awareness regarding how long it takes a driver’s BAC to return to zero after alcohol consumption. As most people mistakenly believe they are good to drive after one or two beers, the campaign aims to change how people view one pint, shot, or glass of alcohol, and helps drivers understand just how long it takes to get sober again after drinking. 

Tips for preventing driving and drinking 

More than 32% of fatal car crashes in the U.S. involve an intoxicated driver. If your social plans involve alcohol, take measures to prevent drinking and driving:

  • Have a designated driver for your groups. 
  • Don’t allow friends to drive after drinking; take their car keys if necessary. 
  • If you have been drinking, call a taxi or get a ride home from a sober friend.
  • If you plan a party, include some alcohol-free drinks and encourage guests to designate a sober driver to take them home. 
  • As a caregiver or a parent, talk to your children, especially your teens, about drunk driving and the risks involved.
  • If you spot a drunk driver on the road, inform the police by outlining the drunk driver’s location, direction they are headed, their vehicle model, and license plate number. 

If you face an arrest due to drunk driving, contact a Denver DUI attorney who will explore several defenses to your charges, including:

  • Gathering evidence regarding your case.
  • Conducting legal research and filing motions.
  • Negotiating with the prosecutor and the judge on your behalf. 

Don’t wait too long after a DUI arrest before contacting an experienced Denver DUI attorney. Speak with a knowledgeable attorney at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC in Denver, Colorado. 

DUI and Second DUI in Colorado

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22 September, 2020

Colorado State law is very strict against drunk drivers. This could be the reason you should hire a skilled DUI attorney if you require the DUI defense in Colorado. Drivers arrested with a blood alcohol content level equal to or greater than 0.08 percent face various penalties. Here is what you need to know about DUI and second DUI convictions in Colorado.

Penalties (first time DUI)

The penalties for a DUI depend on the number of DUI convictions you have and your BAC. Note that a DUI is a misdemeanor offense. If you are convicted for a first-time DUI, here are the penalties you will face.

  • Five days to one year in jail
  • Monetary fine of up to $1,000
  • Alcohol education classes
  • Revocation of your driver’s license for up to nine months
  • Up to 96 hours of community service

A driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher can face a drunk driving per se charge. Even with a lower BAC, a drunk driver can face charges for DWAI (driving while impaired) based on the observations of the law enforcement officials. The penalties for a first-time DWAI conviction are lower than for a first-time DUI. They include;

  • Up to $5,000 (fines)
  • Two days to 180 days in jail
  • Up to 48 hours of community service
  • Eight points against your driving license

Each subsequent DUI conviction will harsh penalties. For instance, a second DUI will entail harsher penalties than those of your first-time conviction.

High BAC and DUI

If you have a BAC of 0.15% or higher, the law classifies you as a persistent drunk driver. This is true even if this is your first DUI offense, you will face increased penalties meant for DUI convicts with a high BAC. For example, you will be required to take level II alcohol education classes. In some cases, you may be required to install a mandatory IID (Ignition Interlock Device) for two years to get your driving license reinstated.

Are penalties for alcohol DUI similar to drug DUI?

In Colorado, the penalties for a DUI conviction are the same if the accused was under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of drugs and alcohol. Drugs include prescription drugs and illegals drugs such as methamphetamines and heroin. Just because marijuana (recreational) is legal in Colorado doesn’t mean having a valid medical marijuana card can be a defense to DUI charges.

There’s a presumption that a vehicle driver under the influence of marijuana is only impaired if chemical test results reveal five nanograms or more of delta 9-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) per millimeter. However, a law enforcement officer can arrest you for driving while impaired, no matter the specific level of THC in your blood.

Second DUI in Colorado

The penalties for a DUI conviction (second time) include;

  • Alcohol education classes
  • Ten days to a year in jail
  • Up to $1,500 fine
  • Revocation of the accused’s driving license for a year
  • Up to four years’ probation
  • Up to 120 hours of community service

Keep in mind that jail time for a second DUI conviction is mandatory. After one’s first DUI conviction, jail time may be waived as part of the suspended sentence. This option isn’t available after a second DUI conviction. That means you will spend at least ten days in the county jail.

If you are facing DUI charges, consult with a DUI attorney. Various laws that apply to these cases are complex, and you need an expert who can fight for your rights and represent you during the necessary court processes.

Can I Get A DUI in Colorado If I’m Not Driving a Car?

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09 September, 2020

Much like in most other states, it is illegal to drive while under the influence (DUI) in Colorado. What that means is, the law prohibits drivers from being in “actual physical control of” or “operating” a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. What’s perhaps surprising is the fact that you can get arrested and DUI charges brought against you even when you were not driving a car in Colorado.

Understanding different situations when you can get a DUI in Colorado will go a long way in helping you protect your rights and ensure that your DUI charges do not put your independence, career, and reputation on the line. Here are several scenarios when you can get a DUI even when you are not driving.

Boating Under the Influence (BUI) – § 33-13-108.1

Believe it or not, charges may be brought against you for driving a boat while allegedly impaired. Under Colorado Revised Statutes § 33-13-108.1, it is illegal for any person to be in actual physical control of or operate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or both. In fact, BUI charges are not only limited to boats. One can face charges even for operating jet skits and other watercraft while allegedly impaired.

BUI charges for first-time offenders carry a jail sentence of 5 days to one year, up to two years of probation, a maximum of 96 hours of community service, and a fine of between $200 to $1,000. The offender must also be restricted from operating any vessel for three months. In case you are a second-time or subsequent offender, penalties often tend to be more stiffer.

Riding a Bicycle While Allegedly Impaired

Bicycling is a popular mode of transportation in Colorado and most other parts of the country, as it is considered healthy and eco-friendly. However, bikers in Denver and all of Colorado need to be watchful of DUI laws while biking as breaking any may lead to DUI charges. That means you can get pulled over and arrested for biking while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Colorado, those facing charges for riding a bicycle while allegedly impaired risk the same penalties just like other motorists facing DUI charges. While this sounds a bit odd, the law intends to reduce the number of road accidents by preventing people from remaining on the roadway when their judgment, perception, and reaction times are impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Sitting in The Drivers’ Seat Driving the Car While Allegedly Impaired

It is not uncommon to face DUI charges for remaining in the driver’s seat even without driving the car. As long the law enforcement officer has a valid reason to believe that you were planning to drive or have just stopped the car (i.e., the vehicle is still one or having the keys in the ignition), DUI charges may be brought against you.

There have also been cases where drunk passengers in a vehicle with a drunk driver were charged with DUI in other states. The unfortunate bit is that such DUI charges may still count against you as a prior DUI case in Colorado.

Other Odd Sceneries When One Can Get a DUI

These are not the only odd instances where Colorado individuals were arrested and DUI charges brought against them. There have been reported cases where people faced DUI charges for riding or operating go-karts, segways, lawnmowers, or even riding horses when allegedly drunk.

Possible DUI Defense

There’s no denying that being arrested for DUI under any circumstances can be a devastating experience. However, DUI charges can have far more serious consequences on your personal and professional life. Not only do you risk paying hefty fines but you may lose important licenses and even spend days or months in jail. The good news is that the prosecution must prove every specific DUI charge element to warrant your conviction. Even better, facing DUI charges does not deprive you of the right to defend yourself or hire an attorney to represent you. The right DUI lawyer will help you challenge the prosecutor’s evidence by:

  • Demonstrating the unreliability or inaccuracy of the BAC test results
  • Pointing out faults the field sobriety test results
  • Challenging probable cause for the traffic stop
  • Identifying any other ways law enforcement officer may have violated your rights or failed to follow proper procedure

Get in Touch with an Experienced DUI Attorney at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani

Whether you are already facing charges or have just been arrested, the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani can help you fight your DUI charges. Our DUI attorney is committed to helping Denver individuals and will dedicate all his legal resources to help you obtain the best possible outcome. When you reach out to us, we will evaluate your case, establishes shortcomings in the prosecution’s evidence, and develop the most effective defense strategy to defend you. Give us a call today or fill out the contact form so we can get started on your case.

DUI Penalties in Colorado – An Overview

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05 August, 2020

Drunk driving is illegal in Colorado, as it impairs the decision-making process. According to a post by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), over 300,000 Americans drive drunk daily. While Colorado has been ranked among the top 20 states with strict DUI laws, 27,000 people were arrested for DUIs in 2016. This is a substantial number, especially because only 1 percent of drunk drivers are arrested.

If you want to protect yourself from getting DUI, the only way is to drink responsibly and avoid driving yourself while intoxicated. However, if you happen to make the mistake of driving while under the influence, there are some penalties.

Penalties for a First Time DUI

In Colorado, a first-time DUI is considered a misdemeanor offense. However, the penalties for DUI will depend on blood alcohol content (BAC). The penalties for a first-time DUI include:

  • Five days to 1 year in jail
  • License suspension for nine months,
  • A fine ranging between $600 and $1,000,
  • Alcohol education classes,
  • 12 DMV points,and
  • Community service for a maximum of 96 hours.

You’ll be charged for DUI if you have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. Even if it’s your first DUI, if you have a BAC of higher than 0.015 percent, you can be classified as a persistent drunk driver (PDD), and you’ll be charged as a repeat-DUI offender. Additionally, you can still be charged for driving while ability impaired or DWAI if you have a BAC lower than 0.08 percent but higher than 0.05 percent.

Penalties for a Second Time DUI

If you have previously been charged for DUI, you are aware that you’ll face some penalties. However, the penalties for a second-DUI will tend to be higher than the first-time DUI penalties you faced. There are also some significant differences between first-time DUI penalties and second-time DUI penalties. Keep in mind that the 2nd DUI offense will carry mandatory jail time.

Other penalties that you will face will include:

  • Ten days to 1 year of jail time,
  • 12-months license suspension,
  • A fine not exceeding $1,500,
  • 120 hours of community service,
  • Alcohol education classes, and
  • A maximum of 4 years of probation.

While jail time after a first-time DUI is often waived, a second DUI jail time is mandatory. You may have to spend at least ten days in the county jail. Additionally, if in the second DUI or DWAI offense you’re found to have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, you will be charged with a DUI per se criminal offense.

Whether you’re under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both, the penalties for a second DUI are similar. Remember, while recreational marijuana may be legal in Colorado, it doesn’t mean it’s legal to drive while under the influence. Therefore, you cannot use your marijuana card as a defense for DUI. If a chemical test shows that you have five or more nanograms of 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it is presumed that your judgment is impaired.

Penalties for a 3rd DUI Offense

In Colorado, it’s a misdemeanor offense to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A 3rd DUI conviction carries harsher penalties than 1st or 2nd DUI penalties. Some of the penalties include:

  • A fine of up to $1,500,
  • Jail time of 60 to 1 year,
  • 120 hours of community service,
  • 2-years license suspension,
  • Alcohol education classes, and
  • A maximum of 4 years of probation.

After a 3rd DUI conviction, your license will be administratively revoked by the DMV. The only way to prevent the automatic loss of your license is to request a DMV hearing within seven days after you’re arrested. The law enforcement will provide you with a temporary license when you’re arrested, and it’s only valid for seven days. After the seven days, you won’t be allowed to drive a car until your license is reinstated.

Penalties for DUI offenses After a 3rd DUI

If you’re arrested again after your 3rd DUI for driving under the influence, you will be classified as a PDD. After you’re convicted, there are additional requirements that you have to fulfill before your license can be reinstated, including:

  • Mandatory detox and alcohol education,
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle for not less than two years, and
  • SR-22 insurance coverage for more than two years.

Get a Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorney

Drunk driving is a serious offense in Colorado, and the penalties can cause serious disruptions to your life. Therefore, if you have been charged with DUI, it’s important that you have a Denver criminal defense lawyer from the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani in your corner to protect your rights and guide you through the process.

322 Colorado Drivers Arrested On Suspicion Of DUI Memorial Day Weekend

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28 July, 2020

Between May 24 and May 28, 2019, Colorado police arrested 322 people suspected of DUI. This number is higher than 2018’s number of 301. On average, law enforcement officers 60 drivers arrested each day.

As part of The Heat Is On Campaign, CDOT and other law enforcement agencies are cracking down on impaired driving because of the risks they impose on motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

When drivers consume alcohol, they can be cited with a DUI (blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher) or driving while ability impaired (blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent or higher).

If you were charged with DUI, DUID or DWAI, give our law firm a call for a free consultation and see how we can help. 303-635-6768.

Denver Drivers Arrested Post June 3, 2019

Link: https://www.denverpost.com/2019/06/03/colorado-dui-memorial-day-weekend/

5 Things You Should Know About DUI in Denver

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28 July, 2020

 

Driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances is a serious crime in Denver. You may face hefty fines and serious penalties. Therefore. It’s best to learn the basics of DUI, understand the regulations associated with these issues, and try to stay out of trouble. Here are five important things you should know about DUI in Denver.

1. DUI is a serious crime in Colorado

It is illegal to drive under the influence. In Colorado, it’s known as DUI. That means you should not drive with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of 0.08% or more. It is also illegal to be in charge of a vehicle or drive while your ability is impaired (DWAI). Therefore, you shouldn’t drive when your BAC is 0.05% or more. For all drivers under the age of 21, it is against the law to drive with a BAC of 0.02%.

2. DUI penalties

The penalties imposed for DUI offenses in Denver vary. Some of the factors that contribute to this variation include;

The estimated BAC
Driver’s age
Prior DUI or DWAI convictions
Type of license
The impairing substances
The experience and skills of the driver’s lawyer
The personality and beliefs of the judge hearing the case
Presence of minors in the vehicle
The consequences of the offense (this could be injuries, property damage, and more)

If you are charged with DUI, consider talking to an experienced attorney. He or she can help you understand a few complex elements of Colorado’s DUI laws and represent your best interests during the hearings.

If you’re 21 years or older and convicted of DUI for the first time, you will face up to 12 months’ imprisonment. Your driving license will be suspended for nine months, and you will be required to take an alcohol education course. You might be asked to pay a fine of $600 to $1000 and up to 96 hours of community service. The penalty for the first DWAI is up to 180 days’ imprisonment. About eight points will be added to the offender’s driving record, pay a fine of $200 to $500, and serve up to 48 community services.

If a driver under the age of 21 is convicted of DUI or DWAI, their driving license will be suspended for three months and four points added to their driving record. Note that penalties are likely to increase greatly for repeated crimes. Depending on the judge and unique circumstances associated with the offense, some DUI offenders may have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles.

3. Sobriety tests

If a law enforcement officer suspects that you are violating DUI regulations, they might ask you to take a sobriety test. This could be a chemical test or field sobriety test. All states require drivers to take a chemical test (alcohol breath test). On the other hand, no state requires drivers to take a field sobriety test. So, you can choose to take the test or decline. Contact your attorney before taking any tests. Remember, refusing to take a sobriety test could be used as evidence against you.

4. Avoid arrest

The best way to avoid DUI-related arrests is by abstaining from alcohol and other intoxicating substances. Also, you can use public transportation or ask a friend to drive you home. Enjoying alcohol isn’t bad, but you should never drink and drive.

5. If You Are Arrested for DUI, contact a Denver DUI Attorney

If you get arrested for DUI-related offenses, contact an experienced Denver DUI attorney at the Law Office of Steven J. Pisani immediately. Our legal team has in-depth understanding of the DUI regulations in Colorado and can help you.

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