The DUI Process in Colorado
Counsel from Skilled Denver DUI Attorneys
The DUI criminal court process can be cumbersome, bureaucratic, time-consuming and just plain confusing to those who do not understand its inner workings and processes. Because of this process and the separate administrative process with the DMV, we recommend all people facing DUI charges in Colorado seek consultation with a seasoned Denver DUI attorney.
In most cases, the DUI process can be broken down into seven major phases. Not all cases will experience all seven stages. The DUI process is intended to be used as a guide and it is important to understand that each case is different and no fact pattern is the same. The defendant plays the critical role in determining how their case progresses and which stages occur.
Stage 1 – The Arrest Stage
Clients oftentimes call our office and state they were not arrested, but did receive a citation for a DUI. You do not have to be booked into jail, kept overnight or post bond to be arrested. The officer has the authority and discretion on whether or not to book you into jail, send you to a detox facility, or allow someone to come and pick you up. This is where being polite and respectful to the officer can be beneficial. The officer can determine whether or not to tow your vehicle and send you to detox. Retrieving your vehicle from the impound lot and paying for a couple hours at detox can run several hundred dollars each. Be respectful and courteous to the officer, but remember that there is a difference between being polite and incriminating yourself.
Stage 2 – The Express Consent Hearing
If you refused testing or submitted to a breath test, you only have seven (7) days from the date of arrest to request your Express Consent hearing at the DMV. You must do this immediately. Do not wait until the last day to request your hearing.
Upon requesting your Express Consent hearing, the DMV will send you a letter called the Notice of Hearing. This hearing must originally be set within sixty (60) days of when you request the Express Consent hearing. Upon requesting your Express Consent hearing, the DMV will send you a copy of the police reports, also called an Express Consent packet and then the DMV will mail you a separate letter called a Notice of Hearing. This letter typically arrives 3-4 weeks from the date you requested your hearing. This hearing must originally be set within 60 days of when you request the Express Consent hearing.
Stage 3 – Arraignment
The officer should issue you a Uniform Summons and Complaint, or better known as a “citation or ticket” that clearly identifies the time, date and location of a mandatory court appearance. This date is called an arraignment date. The judge or a magistrate will officially advise you of the pending charges against you and the possible penalties associated with each charge. This is the first of many court dates in the "DUI process." If you fail to appear for this date or any others, the judge will order a Failure to Appear Warrant in your name. This initiates a bench warrant for your arrest and an OJW is issued to the DMV to suspend your license until you have cleared the warrant and paid the OJW and warrant fees with the court. When you hire an attorney and your attorney properly advises you of the charges and penalties, this date can sometimes be vacated. You should consult with your attorney on the status of your arraignment date and whether or not it can be vacated.
If you were required to post bond or bail, then your arraignment hearing may be called a Bond Appearance instead. A Bond Appearance is very similar to an arraignment hearing. A Judge or Magistrate will advise you of the pending charges against you and the possible penalties associated with each charge.
- In addition, the court will likely impose terms and conditions of bond, such as:
- No Leaving the State without Court Permission
- Abstinence from drugs and alcohol
- Monitored sobriety to ensure abstinence
- No new law violations
- No driving without a valid license
- Compliance with Pre-Trial Services
Stage 4 – Pre-Trial Conferences
Pre-trial conferences are scheduled court appearances where we will go to court and meet with the district attorney to discuss the facts of your case, discovery needs and negotiate plea offers. There are generally two to four pre-trial conferences; however, each case and fact pattern is unique. This stage is the "negotiation" stage and the stage in which we ensure that all relevant discovery and case information has been provided to us from the District Attorney's Office.
Stage 5 – Motions
Motions hearings are the legal arguments made to the judge. This is where the defense attorney and district attorney argue case law and a variety of different suppression or dismissal motions. We refer to this as the legal argument stage. This stage comes after written motions have been filed with the court. This is the stage in which those motions are orally argued and the judge makes a determination on what evidence, if any, is going to be suppressed. The judge's decision is always made in the light most favorable to the prosecution.
Stage 6 – Jury Trial
Unfortunately, most defense attorneys have very little experience in this stage. Jury trial is where your case is presented to a jury of your peers and they make a determination of your guilt. Misdemeanor DUI jury trials consist of six jury members. The process of selecting the jury is called voir dire. Jury trials are usually two days or more.
Stage 7 – Sentencing
All cases that do not end up in a complete dismissal will be required to go to sentencing. Sentencing is the stage in which your punishment is assigned. The judge will take into consideration all mitigating factors presented by the defense as well as the recommendations of the district attorney and the probation office. . If you have a high BAC, prior offenses or the court feels obtaining a pre-sentence investigation is appropriate in your case, you may be sent to the Probation Department to complete and Alcohol Evaluation and a PSI.
Have more questions? Call (720) 619-2676 to set up a free consultation.