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DUI: What do they have to prove to lock me up?

DUI: What do they have to prove to lock me up?

At the end of a jury trial, the jury is told what elements for each alleged crime the government must prove for a person to be convicted of the offense charged. These elements are contained in the Colorado Jury Instructions. A committee develops these instructions and the instructions are approved by the Colorado Supreme Court. Samples of these instructions can be found in the Colorado DUI Bench Book. They can also be found on the Colorado State Judicial webpage.

The instructions are not inclusive of every crime possible in the State of Colorado. However, they do include the elements for most of the major driving and alcohol related crimes. We do not intend to include all of the Colorado Jury Instructions, just the primary ones that readers of this book will encounter. The instructions are not presented in the order of relevancy.

Most readers of this book will have been charged themselves or had a family member charged with the crime of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs (DUI). The elements of driving under the influence are: 1. That the defendant, 2. in the state of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged, 3. drove a vehicle, 4 . while under the influence of [alcohol] [drugs][a combination of drugs and alcohol]

The lesser-included charge is Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol and/or Drugs (DWAI). The elements of driving while ability impaired are: 1. That the defendant, 2. in the state of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged, 3. drove a vehicle, 4. while his ability to operate a vehicle was impaired by [alcohol][drugs][a combination of drugs and alcohol] to the slightest degree.

Other readers may be charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID). The elements of the crime of driving under the influence of drugs are: 1. That the defendant, 2. in the State of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged, 3. drove a vehicle, 4. knowingly [being a habitual user of any controlled substance] [while under the influence of any controlled substance] [while under the influence of any drug to a degree which renders one substantially incapable of safely operating a vehicle].

These instructions have many words that have specific legal definitions. We have added some of the major definitions. The Colorado Court of Appeals and/or the Colorado Legislature have defined, either by statutes, case decisions or through other Colorado Jury Instructions, several of the terms.

“DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE” means driving a vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, which alcohol alone, or one or more drugs alone, or alcohol combined with one or more drugs affects the person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.

“DRIVING WHILE ABILITY IMPAIRED” means driving a vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, which alcohol alone, or one or more drugs alone, or alcohol combined with one or more drugs, affects the person to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.

“MOTOR VEHICLE” means any self-propelled vehicle which is designed primarily for travel on the public highways and which is generally and commonly used to transport persons and property over the public highways, but the term does not include motorized bicycles as defined in paragraph (b) of subsection (59) of this section, wheelchairs as defined by subsection (113) of this section, or vehicles moved solely by human power. “Motor vehicle” includes a neighborhood electric vehicle operated pursuant to section 42-4-111(1)(a). For the purposes of the offenses described in sections 42-2-128, 42-4-1301, and 42-4-1401 for farm tractors and off-highway vehicles, as defined in section 33-14.5-101(3), C.R.S., operated on streets and highways, “motor vehicle” includes a farm tractor or an off-highway vehicle which is not otherwise classified as a motor vehicle.

“VEHICLE” means any device which is capable of moving itself, or of being moved, from place to place upon wheels or endless tracks. “Vehicle” includes any bicycle, but such term does not include any wheelchair as defined by subsection (113) of this section, or any off-highway vehicle, snowmobile, any farm tractor, or any implement of husbandry designed primarily or exclusively for use and used in agricultural operations or any device moved by muscular power or moved exclusively over stationary rails or tracks or designed to move primarily through the air.[§42-1-102(111), C.R.S.]

“DRIVING” does not have a statutory definition. However, according to C.R.S. 42-1-102(27), “DRIVER” means every person, including a minor driver under the age of twenty- one years, who drives or is in actual physical control of a vehicle. Colorado case law has defined driving as including “actual physical control of a vehicle.” Accordingly, when considering whether a defendant exercised actual physical control over a vehicle or caused it to function, that is, drove or operated a vehicle, a jury may consider the totality of the circumstances.

Further more, when there is evidence indicating that the vehicle may not have been reasonably capable of being rendered operable, the jury must be instructed that it must find the vehicle was either operable, reasonably capable of being rendered operable, in motion (whether by coasting or pushing), or at risk of being put in motion before finding the defendant guilty of driving or operating a vehicle under the DUI and DARP statutes.

It is important to remember that the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the alleged crime. Attorneys trained in the art and science of DUI defense, like your authors, will look at each element of the charge and will force the state to prove each and every element before you are found guilty. If the state is not able to prove any one of the elements, the charges should be dismissed or you will be found not guilty at trial.

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