Charges of driving under the influence (DUI) are one of the most common reasons for arrests in Arapahoe County. These offenses can carry steep consequences following a conviction. Jail time, fines, and the loss of your license are only some of the ways a conviction could impact your life.
You have the right to fight back against a DUI arrest with the help of a skilled defense attorney. If you are successful, you could avoid a criminal conviction entirely. The guidance of an Arapahoe County DUI lawyer could be a critical factor in avoiding a conviction. Get in touch with the Colorado Lawyer Team to get started building your defense.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI
Not all DUI charges are the same. For most first-time offenders, a DUI is treated as a misdemeanor under state law. However, there are situations where a DUI is considered a felony. Understanding the difference between these two types of criminal charges is important, as a felony conviction could carry much heavier penalties.
By default, a DUI is considered a misdemeanor offense. Absent the presence of one or more specific circumstances, the prosecutor will treat any DUI as a misdemeanor offense. There are three circumstances that give the prosecution the power to charge a DUI as a felony.
The most common example of a felony DUI involves a driver’s previous convictions. A person that has three or more previous DWI convictions will face felony charges. Unlike many other jurisdictions, Arapahoe County does not have a lookback period. This means any prior DUI conviction—even one from another state—could be used to enhance a DUI charge.
The state can also pursue felony charges when a drunken driver causes serious bodily injuries or fatal injuries in a collision. These felony offenses are known as vehicular assault and vehicular homicide.
While all driving under the influence charges are serious, the potential consequences of a felony offense far outweigh those of a misdemeanor. An Arapahoe County attorney could advise a client facing a DUI charge on the potential severity of the offense.
Common DUI Defenses
There are a variety of ways an Arapahoe County attorney could build a winning defense strategy in a DUI case. However, the two strongest possible defenses in these cases generally relate to the traffic stop or the chemical test.
Fighting the Traffic Stop
Challenges to the traffic stop and arrest are often a powerful defense in a DUI case. The police only have the right to pull over a vehicle if they can articulate their reasonable suspicion that an offense had occurred. Without reasonable suspicion, the traffic stop is illegal. This is important thanks to a doctrine known as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Under this doctrine, any evidence seized by police after an unlawful search or seizure may not be used at trial. Excluding this evidence could make it impossible for the state to prove its case.
Fighting the Chemical Test
Most DUI cases center on a defendant’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The BAC is the measurement of the alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream at the time they were driving. A BAC at or above .08 is evidence of intoxicated driving. However, there are many ways to attack the results of these tests. Police who fail to follow proper procedures in collecting these samples could render the results inaccurate. The same is true for labs that fail to follow protocol when testing the samples. Excluding this test evidence could be a major victory for the defense.
Reach Out to an Arapahoe County DUI Attorney Today
Before you consider a plea of guilty following a DUI arrest, consider discussing your options with skilled legal counsel. You may be surprised at the potential defenses that could apply to your case.
An Arapahoe County DUI lawyer can review the facts of your arrest and advise you on your defense options. Call today to get started on your case.