The criminal defense attorneys at Rotole, Rotole & Blanchard, L.L.C. represent people throughout the Denver Metropolitan Area who have been arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI). Although these two offenses are similar, there are important distinctions in how they are defined and defended.
A blood or breath test can be used to determine a person's blood alcohol content (BAC), which is the most commonly-used indicator of alcohol impairment. Having a BAC of between .05 and .08 is considered DWAI, while having a BAC of .08 or more is enough for a presumption of DUI. With a BAC of .17 or more, a person is considered to be a persistent drunk driver, and the penalties which can be imposed are even greater.
Measuring a person's BAC is not necessarily the only way to prove that a person is DUI/DWAI. The law defines these offenses as consuming alcohol or drugs to such a degree that the person's ability to drive is impaired. For DUI, the person must be substantially incapable of exercising clear judgment, physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle. For DWAI, the person need only be affected to the slightest degree so that the person is less capable than usual in matters of judgment, physical control, or due care. While a certain BAC level raises a presumption that a person is DUI/DWAI, it is more often the police officer's observation of a person's driving and interaction with him or her after a stop that determines whether a DUI/DWAI citation or arrest will be made.
Punishments for DUI and DWAI include both criminal and administrative penalties. Administrative penalties include a revocation/suspension of a driver's license for anywhere from nine months to two years, which may be reduced in certain circumstances, depending upon whether it is a first or subsequent offense, and "points" assessed on a person's license. Refusal to take a BAC test can likewise provide the basis for revocation of a driver's license. Criminal penalties, meanwhile, including jail, fines, and public service, all increase in severity for subsequent offenses. Even on a first offense, a person can be sentenced to up to six months in jail, assessed $500 in fines, and ordered to perform up to 28 hours of public service. Other court costs and surcharges may also be imposed.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation
In almost all DUI/DWAI cases, police officers make certain assumptions and follow certain procedures. Having an in-depth understanding of the various laws and procedures of DUI/DWAI cases is critical to taking advantage of all the opportunities available to the defendant to appropriately defend the charges. For instance, the stop of an automobile by a police officer usually involves a judgment call. If the police officer cannot meet certain constitutional standards for stopping and detaining the defendant, all of the evidence seized thereafter could be suppressed by the court and therefore would not be heard by a jury, which could critically impair the prosecution's capability to present a case. There are many other defenses available on a case by case basis. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will work hard to avoid a conviction whenever possible, such as if the evidence against a defendant is not sufficient, or if the police or prosecutor engaged in misconduct or failed to properly perform their duties.
The time frame to request an administrative hearing is exceedingly short, making it essential that you contact an attorney as soon as possible to secure your rights and ensure you do not miss any opportunities to achieve the best possible outcome in your situation. If you have been arrested for DUI/DWAI, contact Rotole, Rotole & Blanchard, L.L.C. for a free consultation.