DUI/TRAFFIC FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Updated Feb 2014

Q: I was arrested for a DUI but the police officer never read me my rights. Does the case have to be dismissed?

Answer: Unfortunately the answer is usually no. Police are only required to read you those Miranda warnings if you are placed in custody and then interrogated. Sometimes this does occur during the course of a DUI investigation, but usually it does not. Each case is different and must be evaluated individually. However, remember that even if the police don’t tell you specifically, you do have the right to remain silent.

Q: Do I have to do roadside maneuvers like walking a line or touching my nose?

Answer: No you don’t. Those roadside maneuvers or field sobriety tests,  as they are called by police,  are voluntary. You have the absolute right to decline to participate. The officer is entitled to ask and it is not uncommon for it to sound like an order, not a request, but you may absolutely decline to take those tests.

Q: Do I have to take a blood or breath test?

Answer: No you don’t. However, if you refuse to take a chemical test your license is likely to be revoked for 1 year on a first refusal, 2 years on a second refusal, and 3 years on a third refusal.  If you take a blood or a breath test and the test result is above .08, your license could be revoked for 9 months if this is the first time your license is revoked for excessive alcohol content. There is a provision with first offenses for early reinstatement with an interlock device after 1 month of no driving. If your license has been revoked for having a  prior excessive alcohol content, your driving privileges will be revoked for 1 year.  If your license has been revoked for having 2 prior excessive alcohol contents, your driving privileges will be revoked for 2 years. If you have more than one revocation for an excessive alcohol content, you may also be eligible for an early reinstatement of your driver’s license if you install an ignition interlock in your car. No matter whether you took a test or refused you are entitled to request a hearing to determine if the state has a right to revoke your license. You are allowed to maintain your driving privilege until the date of that hearing. You do not have to take the portable breath test (PBT) that is sometimes requested as part of the initial investigation.

Q:  What happens if I refused the chemical test?

Answer: If you refused the chemical test, the police officer likely will take your driver’s license and serve you with a Notice of Revocation.  You have seven days to request a DMV hearing.  If your license is revoked at the DMV hearing, the revocation is for 1 year, if this is the first time you refused a chemical test.  You are eligible for an early reinstatement if you agree to install an interlock device in your car.

Q: I have a DUI charge. How long will I lose my License?

Answer: A Department of Motor Vehicle administrative hearing will be held if your test result is .08 or over (.02 if you are under 21 years of age) or if you refused to take a chemical test. On first offenses that occurred on or after January 1, 2009, DMV will revoke your license for 9 months. You are eligible to reinstate after 1 month of no driving if you install an interlock device in your car. If you install the interlock, there are no limitations on where or when you can drive. There are provisions to have the interlock device removed early. If your license has been revoked on a prior offense in which you submitted to a chemical test, your driving privileges will be revoked for 1 year.  If your license has been revoked on 2 prior offenses in which you submitted to a chemical test, your driving privileges will be revoked for 2 years. If you refused to take a chemical test and lose the hearing then your license will be revoked for 1 year on a first offense refusal, 2 years on a second refusal, and 3 years on a third refusal. You may also be eligible for early reinstatement if you install an interlock device in your car.

The courthouse is the second place your license is in jeopardy. In Colorado a driver aged 21 or over has 12 points in any one-year period.  If you plead guilty to DUI, the period of suspension is  9 months. If your license was revoked for excess alcohol (BAC above .08), the revocations will run concurrently and  DMV will not suspend your license for any more time. DMV proceedings and court proceedings are hardly related at all. It is entirely possible to lose at DMV and not be convicted in court or vice versa.

People who have been previously convicted of DUI, DWAI or have been revoked by DMV in the past or revoked for an alleged refusal are subject to various rules regarding length of revocations and early reinstatement.  The changes in Colorado DUI laws have made license issues very complicated.  Everyone should contact our experienced lawyers for help in determining how long your license revocation will last. It is best to contact a lawyer as soon as you are charged or aware that there may be a problem. Our office offers a free initial consultation so don’t hesitate to call us.

Q: How do I request a DMV hearing?

Answer: If you refused the test or if you submitted to a breath test with a result at or above the limits stated above, you should have been served with a notice of revocation. This notice gives you 7 days to request a hearing. You can request a hearing at most DMV offices by simply walking in with the notice of revocation and your driver’s license. They will take your drivers license if the cop has not already done so and issue you a temporary permit that is valid for up to 60 days or until you have your DMV hearing (which is usually at least a month after your request).

If you chose a blood test you will be notified by mail if your test was at or in excess of the limit. If you receive such a notice look carefully at the notice as it will indicate how long you have to request your hearing.

You will also have to determine if you want to have the officer show up at the DMV hearing. If the police officer is requested to show up and fails to do so your license will usually be returned and the DMV case will be dismissed. There are times and situations where it is more advantageous to not have the police officer show at the DMV. Perhaps crucial information is missing from his report and his showing up will only allow him to rectify the situation. To be sure it is best to consult our attorneys to look at your case and situation. We recommend that you contact our attorneys immediately after you have been charged and prior to requesting a DMV hearing even in the case of blood tests where results are not immediately available.

Q: What is the difference between a Revocation and a Suspension?

Answer: If you are revoked, you are generally not eligible for a work license or any other driving privilege unless you are eligible for a restricted interlock driver’s license. In some situations, you may be able to reinstate early. A suspension usually results from getting too many points and you are usually eligible for limited driving privileges for work, school and medical purposes if approved by the DMV.

Q: Can I get a license to go back and forth to work or school?

Answer: If you driver’s license is revoked for excess alcohol and the offense occurred on or after January 1, 2009, you may apply for early reinstatement after 1 month of no driving. However, you will have to install an interlock device in your car for 8 months. You can apply to remove the interlock early if you have 4 straight months without any problems. If your license is revoked for some other reason, the law does not allow restricted licenses to drive to work or school. A person under revocation for more than one year because of alcohol offenses may be eligible to apply for the Early Reinstatement Program. However, eligibility is very dependent on individual circumstances. Early Reinstatement requires placing a device on your car that requires you to breath into it before the car will operate to make sure you have not ingested any alcohol. You have to pay installation and monitoring costs.

Persons who are suspended because they have too many points over a particular time frame, but who are not currently under revocation by DMV are eligible for a probationary (restricted) license that allows driving for specified work, school, medical, or other purposes.

Q: How many points can I get before I lose my Drivers License?

Answer: Depends on your age. If you are age 16-17 you are subject to suspension if you accumulate 6 points or more during any 12-month period or 7 points or more for the duration of your license. If you are 18-20 you are subject to suspension if you accumulate 9 points or more in any 12-month period, 12 points or more during any 24-month period or 14 points or more for the period of the license. If you are 21 or older you are subject to suspension if you accumulate 12 points or more in any 12-month period or 18 points or more over any 24-month period. However, for people under 21 years of age any drunk driving conviction, regardless of the number of points, results in a one year revocation.

It can be difficult to determine if you are in danger of losing your license. Remember that points are figured based on date(s) of violation(s), not the day you pay the fine or show up in court and plead guilty. It is also based on the age you were on the date(s) of violation(s). You can go to DMV and request a copy of your DMV record and try to figure it out yourself. DMV charges $2.20 for driving records. If you have any doubt or uncertainty contact us to be sure.

Q: I was under Revocation for some time and received a ticket. I have since gotten my license back and the district attorney is offering to allow me to plead guilty to a reduced charge. Should I take this offer?

Answer: Be careful. If you plead guilty to any traffic related violation that occurred while you were under Revocation/Denial/Suspension, the DMV is likely to once again revoke or suspend your driving privilege. Contact us to determine if the offer you are contemplating is a good one in your situation or to see if it can somehow be improved.

The district attorney is likely to indicate to you that you are facing mandatory jail when charged with Driving Under Revocation/Suspension/Denial (mandatory 30 days jail for alcohol related revocations). Faced with these startling possibilities it is easy to understand why any offer not involving jail would sound good. However, accepting the wrong disposition can lead to once again losing your license. Contact us and we can discuss those issues and any possible defenses you may have.

Q. Is jail mandatory?

Answer: Some Colorado statutes indicate that jail is mandatory in certain situations. For instance, if you are convicted of DUI or DWAI and have a prior conviction for either. Also, for first offenders where the breath or blood test is .20 or higher within 2 hours of driving. Every case has its own facts and circumstances and there are numerous ways to try and avoid or minimize jail. Also, jail alternatives are often available. There are many factors to consider and you should discuss all the possibilities and probabilities with an experienced lawyer.

Q. What is an interlock device?

Answer: An interlock device on your car requires you to breath into it before the car will operate to make sure you have not ingested any alcohol. You have to pay installation and monitoring costs. The interlock must be installed on any car you drive or own. If you are caught driving a car that does not have the interlock, you may be charged with a new offense. There are different interlock devices on the market and some clients have experienced problems with some of the units. Our attorneys can help advise you on how to deal with this situation if you are ordered to have an interlock installed in your car.

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