Preparing for a Colorado Alcohol Evaluation & Pre-sentence Investigation
In Colorado, most jurisdictions use the alcohol evaluation to determine the level of substance abuse or addiction treatment that you will be required to complete as part of any sentence in a Colorado DUI or DWAI conviction. Generally, the evaluation is completed through the probation department in the jurisdiction where the case is charged.
The court has the full discretion to go to immediate sentencing or to set the case over for sentencing and order a PSI and alcohol evaluation be completed prior to sentencing. The court will only consider going to immediate sentencing if this is your first offense and you have a low BAC. If there is any uncertainty regarding whether you have prior offenses, the court will order a PSI and Alcohol Evaluation. Some courts even require first offense refusal cases to undergo an alcohol evaluation prior to sentencing. You should consult with your attorney regarding the court’s policy in your particular case based on your individual case facts.
Defendants who have high BAC’s (≥ .200) and possible priors will be ordered to do an alcohol evaluation and pay the alcohol evaluation fee. The going rate for an alcohol evaluation with probation is $200.00. You absolutely need to take this evaluation seriously and you must consult with your attorney prior to completing any part of the evaluation. The results of this evaluation process will go a long way in determining the exact terms and conditions of your probation.
- Tips for Successfully Completing a Colorado Alcohol Evaluation
- Show up at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment
- Dress professionally – just like you would for court or a job interview
- Make sure you have not consumed any alcohol or drugs prior to this meeting. Although this sounds like a no brainer, it happens so frequently that I now warn every client about this. There is a chance that you will be asked to submit to a UA or ETG test at this time. Failing your first test is a very bad way to start probation. ETG tests can detect alcohol up to 5 days after consumption. While you should have stopped drinking the night you received your Colorado DUI, it is important that you do not test positive for alcohol while on probation. The same goes for drugs. Different drugs have different shelf lives and stay in your body for different lengths of time. Marijuana or THC being the most common drug found in these tests. Be smart, and don’t start probation off with a positive test for drugs or alcohol.
- Consult with your attorney about what questions you should or should not answer both on the written questionnaire and in the in-person interview. If you are contemplating an appeal, anything you say during this evaluation can be used against you. Also, your right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself carries through sentencing and any post-conviction appeal deadlines.
- Be honest - if you lie or try to outsmart the system you will get caught.
The probation department will likely use the Adult Substance Use and Driving Survey, or ASUDS for short to score you on various factors.
- These include the following and more:
- Prior substance use
- Prior alcohol or drug-related driving convictions
- And past arrests for DUI
- Defensiveness or resistance
- BAC in the present case
- Level of remorse or accountability
- Level of risk taking in overall life
- General attitudes and behaviors
- Level of social or non-social conformity
- Level of support in your life
- Level of motivation and willingness to change your behavior
Preparing for Your Evaluation
While we certainly cannot tell someone how to answer the questions or what to say, we advise our clients on a number of areas prior to the evaluation. First and foremost, be honest with yourself and the evaluator. Don’t go to the evaluation and say you had two beers when your BAC is a .185. This is a classic example of you not accepting responsibility for your actions and your resistance to acknowledge that you made a mistake and you are ready to move on with your life, but in such a way as to ensure this never happens again.
Taking Responsibility for Actions
Don’t minimize the seriousness of the offense or your actions. Ultimately, you are at the evaluation because you have been charged with and convicted of an alcohol or drug-related offense in Colorado. As a result, you are being sentenced and penalized for a very serious crime. It is important to reflect on that and let the evaluator know that you are well aware of how serious this is, how glad you are that no one was injured or killed and discuss with them how you are taking it seriously to ensure this never happens again. Remember that our criminal justice system is based on negative reinforcement. Your penalty and sentence is going to be determined based on the severity of the crime you committed and your propensity to commit a similar crime in the future if not punished severely enough. You want to demonstrate that you have taken the proactive measures and steps in your life to address the events that led up to this unfortunate decision and incident and that you have put measures in place to alter your behavior and to ensure you never commit an offense like this again.
Cutting Out Alcohol / Drug Use
The first way you can accomplish this and demonstrate this to the alcohol evaluator, to the court and to the District Attorney is to stop drinking or consuming drugs. This needs to be accomplished long before the evaluation, but immediately upon being charged, you must stop drinking or doing drugs – legal or not. Someone who is able to abstain from alcohol or drug consumption from the date they were charged until the evaluation is completed is certainly less of a risk than someone who has continued to drink or smoke marijuana, even in light of being charged with an alcohol or drug-related offense. If you go in to the evaluation and admit that you had 3 glasses of wine last Friday night that is going to raise a huge red flag for everyone involved.
A person who has not consumed alcohol or drugs since the date of offense is much more likely to receive a more positive evaluation with far less recommendations for treatment, monitored sobriety and jail than someone who has continued to drink and do drugs up until being sentenced.
Speak with a Denver DUI Attorney
You should consult with your attorney regarding what steps you can take proactively to demonstrate your understanding of how severe this offense is. Starting Level II Alcohol and Education is a prudent step for most clients. Once we know a client’s BAC, prior history and general facts of their case, we will advise them on whether they should start classes now and if so, what level of therapy is appropriate based on these factors. The sooner you start these classes, the sooner you finish. You will be given credit for any classes you complete prior to conviction or resolution of your case. Enrolling in Level II Education and potentially into one of the four levels of therapy cannot hurt you. It is not an admission of guilt and it cannot be used against you in your case or at trial. This shows the alcohol evaluator and the court that you are not just going to the evaluation and telling them that you take this seriously, but you have demonstrated that you are in fact taking it seriously.
Depending on the facts of your case, our firm may advise you to start voluntary monitored sobriety as well. This falls into the same category of demonstrating how serious you are taking this and showing the court that you can abstain from drinking or doing drugs and that alcohol and/or drugs does not play a large role in your life. Actions speak louder than words. Probation, the courts and alcohol evaluators think everyone charged with a DUI or DWAI has an addiction or substance abuse problem. The burden of proof is on you and us to demonstrate that this is not true. This can best be done by proactively enrolling in education and therapy classes and through monitored sobriety.
Remember, by the time you get to the alcohol evaluation, you have already been found guilty either by entering a plea of guilty or through conviction at trial, therefore the time to deny the accusations has passed. If you are charged with DUI in Colorado, it is important to hire a Denver DUI lawyer and to consult with them throughout the process, up to and including, an alcohol evaluation and sentencing.
Ready to discuss your case with The Orr Law Firm? You can contact our firm at (720) 619-2676 for a free consultation.