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Colorado Springs Legal Issues Blog

How serious are drunk driving penalties in Colorado?

Colorado ranks 18th in terms of the states with the most stringent drunk driving laws. If you're curious to know just how tough our state's laws happen to be regarding DUI convictions and punishments, take a look at the following punishments:

  • First conviction: A five-day minimum jail sentence.
  • Second conviction: A ten-day minimum jail sentence.
  • A standard DUI charge does not reach felony level until after an accused person's fourth DUI offense in his or her lifetime.
  • A DUI conviction could potentially affect you over the course of your entire life.
  • First time offenders will have an administrative license suspension for nine months to one year; repeat offenders will experience a longer license suspension period.
  • Vehicle impoundment is not mandatory; however, arresting officers have the power to impound when they feel it is warranted.
  • Ignition interlock is mandatory after the first conviction or after an arrest for refusing a breath test.
  • The mandatory period for an ignition interlock device is eight months.
  • Drivers will be subjected to elevated punishments and penalties if they blow above a .15 percentage blood alcohol content and if they refuse to blow.
  • Those convicted of DUI must endure a mandatory alcohol assessment.
  • The minimum fine for a first and second offense conviction is $600.
  • Authorities may not carry out a chemical test without a warrant or consent from the driver.
  • Roadside sobriety tests are voluntary.
  • After a drunk driving conviction, car insurance rates will increase by 34 percent.
  • Colorado has child endangerment protections related to DUI.
  • Colorado implements sobriety checkpoints.

As you can see, Colorado takes drunk driving seriously. If you're accused of this crime, you could face numerous and difficult legal consequences. Therefore, you may want to speak with a criminal defense lawyer to identify appropriate strategies you can employ during your criminal proceedings.

New stalking, domestic violence law in Colorado

A new law dealing with stalking and domestic violence is in force now in Colorado. With more than 18,000 domestic violence reports in Colorado last year, a new law was needed. However, it was one specific case that prompted the law.

A Colorado Springs woman was fatally shot by her ex-boyfriend when he was on house arrest. The man was awaiting sentencing after being convicted of felony stalking. He was wearing an electronic monitoring ankle device, which he cut off. In order to steal a truck, the man killed the driver and drove to his ex-girlfriend's home. He broke in and shot her.

Is punishment a good solution to domestic violence?

When people are accused of domestic violence, the focus is often on punishing those individuals. This usually means time in jail and similar measures.

There are those who think that simply punishing those who are convicted is not the correct path to take. They believe that other tactics could be more successful in reducing incidents of violence between family members. These people are proponents of education and rehabilitation more than anything else.

The defense of automatism: What is it?

If you were accused of a crime in Colorado, your criminal defense lawyer may have a lot of defense strategies available to use. However, some criminal defense options will be more appropriate to employ than others. One criminal defense strategy, the defense of automatism, can only be applied in extremely rare circumstances.

The state of automatism refers to an individual who is not in control of his or her actions. The person's muscles and body might be acting without conscious mental control. Or, the person's body is moving but he or she is unconscious. For example, a person with automatism might suddenly lose control, become ill, fall into a fantasy or dream state and then commit a crime in that state.

5 things you can do to help your criminal defense attorney

If you have been charged with a crime, the ultimate outcome of your case is undoubtedly at the top of your mind. Unfortunately, you cannot simply make your problem go away. In several important respects, you are at the mercy of the court and an impersonal criminal justice system.

However, you are not entirely powerless regarding the outcome of your case. You have hired an experienced criminal lawyer who is committed to defending your rights. But your lawyer also needs your help. You can play an important role in your defense effort by doing these five things:

Felony convictions and the long-term consequences

A conviction for a felony charge can have some serious consequences. This includes penalties ordered by the court, but there are also long-term consequences of a felony conviction.

After someone is convicted of a felony charge, the court can sentence him or her to jail or prison time, fines, community service, probation and more. Some people may think that once they have paid their debt to society through the sentence handed down by the court that the conviction is nothing more than a line on their criminal record. Here, however, are some of the other consequences from a felony conviction:

If you're convicted of felony DUI, you'll serve time

With the passage of HB-17-1288, everyone convicted of felony DUI in Colorado will now have to go to jail. Governor John Hickenlooper signed the bill on June 6, 2017, and the law goes into effect on August 9, 2017. From that date forward, anyone who is convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUI will have to serve between 90 to 180 days in county jail with no time off for good behavior.

Why should I care about my right to remain silent?

Have you ever heard this phrase in the movies? "You have the right to remain silent and anything you say can and will be used against you." This sentence is something that the police need to tell you when they're taking you into custody. It's required by law. Failure to tell you this could interfere with a prosecutor's ability to pursue a successful criminal action against you.

Your right to remain silent is a Fifth Amendment right. The interpretation of the Fifth Amendment, which requires officers to tell you this, stems from the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. Under the Miranda ruling, here is what police have to tell a suspect when taking him or her into custody:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to an attorney.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

Mouthwash and false drunk driving accusations

Police are not perfect, and it's not uncommon for Colorado Springs residents to get pulled over and be accused of drunk driving when they've never had a drink of alcohol. In some cases, police have even been known to accuse a driver of being intoxicated after he or she did something as innocuous as swishing mouthwash.

Mouthwash? Yes, that's right. Mouthwash, which often contains alcohol has been the cause of many false drunk driving arrests. In fact, if you swish with mouthwash you could fail a standard Breathalyzer test by giving a test result of .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) for as long as 10 minutes after swishing.

Colorado's crime rate rising faster than other states

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, the 30 largest cities in the U.S. saw an average increase in crime rates of .3 percent. However, for Colorado, the increase in the number of murders, rapes, robberies and auto thefts sent the state's crime rate up by 3.4 percent.

Of the 189 homicides in Colorado last year, almost one in three occurred in Denver. That is also an increase of 9.9 percent from the 172 murders in 2015. These numbers are from "2016 Crime in Colorado," a report done by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

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