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Steps you should take if you've been arrested for DUI in Colorado but live out-of-state!
If you're an out-of-state resident and have been summoned to court for a Colorado DUI, DWAI or Driving With a Suspended License call us today! Over 95% of our cases involve DUIs or driving under restraint charges. We can help!
Here are some simple steps that you should take if you've been arrested for DUI in Colorado but live out-of-state. First you need to know a few things about Colorado Drunk Driving Law. Colorado punishes persons accused of dui with both administrative and criminal penalties. For a diagram of the Colorado DUI criminal process please click here. For a diagram of the administrative process please click here . Notice that there are two parallel processes to which you must attend in order to protect your rights!
Step I: Protect Your Driver's License - Hearing Request
After being arrested for drunk driving in Colorado you should have received a summons which will contain the criminal charges against you. If you took a breath test and blew over a 0.08 BAC, the arresting officer should have confiscated your out-of-state drivers license and given you a yellow copy of the "Affidavit and Notice of Revocation." This document is used by the Colorado Department of Revenue in revoking your driving privilege. With such a revocation you may not be able to legally drive in your home state or other states. You have seven days from the date of the Notice of Revocation to make a written request for a hearing with the Colorado Department of Revenue. I often encounter out-of-state drivers who believe that because they are scheduled for court on a particular date that they need not request a hearing with Colorado DMV. The date on the court summons has nothing to do with your driving privilege - it applies only to the criminal action, e.g., jail, fines and probation. Upon submission of a written request for a hearing, DMV will issue a temporary driver's license (assuming the police offer confiscated your out-of-state license.)
Similarly I get a lot of questions about whether after seven years drunk driving charges "drop off" a driver's record under the "Statute of Limitations." Because the statute of limitations refers only to offenses that are not charged, the answer is "no"- if you were issued a summons then the drunk driving charge will be here, waiting for you, whether you come back to Colorado in seven years or seventy years from now. Its best to take care of the charge.
If you took a blood test, and the result comes back over 0.08 BAC you will receive a Notice of Revocation in the mail at the address on your license. Normally, your license will not have been taken if you opted for a blood test. You may give an in-state address to the police where the notice can be sent if, for example, you have friends or relatives in Colorado. The notice will inform you of the date on which your license will be revoked. Upon receiving a Notice of Revocation in the mail you should make immediate arrangements for a hearing by contacting Colorado DMV in writing - before the date on the notice. Colorado law allows your to request a hearing without turning in your out-of-state driver's license at the time of the request however no temporary license will be issued pending the hearing unless you turn in a license.
I am often able to prevent a license revocation at the hearing before DMV - it is therefore important that a timely request is made for a hearing. If no hearing is requested, within seven days for a breath test or the date on the notice for a blood test, the license revocation goes into effect automatically and usually cannot be rescinded. For a first time DUI offense over 0.08 the period of license revocation is nine months if you took a chemical test. For a second or subsequent violation or a first refusal, a revocation of at least one year will be imposed. The actual period can be longer depending on your age, driving record and the circumstances of your case. For this reason the first thing that I attend to when representing a client is to assist them in preparing a written hearing request.
Step II: Setting up A Court Date
If you decide not to hire an attorney, plan on being in court on the date listed on your summons. It is very unusual for the courts to reschedule appearances for a defendant without an attorney. Driving Under the Influence is a non-classified misdemeanor in Colorado. The misdemeanor process in Colorado contemplates multiple appearances by the Defendant in Court leading up to resolution of the case by dismissal, acquittal or sentencing. Of course appearing several times in court is not always convenient if you live outside of Colorado and must travel by air to get here!
Unless you are on bond we can often arrange your case so that everything can be taken care of in one visit. Depending on which judge you've drawn to hear your case, we can sometimes handle the entire case without you having to return to Colorado! We will usually have all of the police reports on hand prior to your first court date. Any additional discovery necessary to formulating a defense for your case will also be ordered. Then, one of our attorney's will go to court in advance of your appearance to discuss the case with the district attorney. Working with the court we can usually schedule your appearance, if required, so that your spend the minimum amount of time away from home and your job. For an in depth look at the criminal process click here.
If you must return to Colorado for court, you probably won't have to travel here until the end of the case - either for trial or to enter into a plea bargain. Probation may be waived, i.e., community service and alcohol education for persons who reside out of state under See Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1301.3(4)(c). If you must do jail time because of prior offenses or because of a high alcohol level ( 0.2 BAC or higher) I am often successful in getting the courts to agree to electronic home monitoring in your home state.)
Failure to appear in court can result in very unpleasant consequences. Colorado will place a hold on your license on the National Drivers Registry. This hold will prevent your from renewing or obtaining a new drivers' license in most states. In addition, a warrant for your arrest will be issued which could cause you to be arrested and held in your home state until the authorities in Colorado decide whether or not you should be extradited. Similarly, if you pled guilty to or were convicted of a dui or dwai in Colorado but failed to complete your probation, Colorado will place a hold on your driving privilege which may require you to return to face charges of a probation violation.
Upon appearing for court after a missed court date the court will usually required you to turn yourself in to the Sheriff and post a bond. Again, with an attorney you can usually set up a court date to appear in advance and avoid being arrested.
Step III - Hire an Attorney
Hiring an attorney who will represent you faithfully after you've paid his retainer is perhaps the hardest and most critical part of the process. I've noted a correlation between the willingness of an attorney to explain the legal process and the quality of the representation. The big Internet directories are often a starting point for many seeking a dui attorney. However the "listings" in the national directories are almost all paid adds that don't necessarily reflect the the quality of the attorneys listed therein. We suggest that when choosing an attorney on the web, that you carefully weight the quality of the content posted on their site. Then call the best three attorney's and discuss your case with them at length. If an attorney takes time to explain what you are facing and what, if any, defenses you may have, then most likely he or she will take the time to give you good value for your dollar.