Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a significant societal problem that can result in property damage, serious injury, or loss of life. As such, DUI prosecution is a priority for the 18th Judicial District Attorney. The District Attorney devotes significant investigative and prosecution resources to catching and effectively prosecuting DUI offenders.
The majority of DUIs committed in this district involve excessive alcohol consumption. However, with the advent of legalized marijuana in this state, along with increased use of prescription drugs including opioids, Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) is also a significant problem. It is the policy of the District Attorney to treat DUID the same way as alcohol DUI offenses are treated, regardless of whether the offender had a prescription or physician recommendation for the drug(s) involved. This is because the mere fact that a person has a prescription or a doctor recommendation for a drug, does not mean they are safe to drive while under the influence of that substance.
By law, a sentence for DUI or DUID usually consists of two parts: (1) a jail sentence of up to one year, all or part of which can be suspended, and (2) a probation sentence. For second- or third-time offenders, an additional one year of jail is suspended contingent on successful completion of probation. Probation is usually supervised by the 18th Judicial District Probation Department or a private agency contracted with the probation department. Currently, probation supervision fees are a month. Standard requirements of DUI/DUID probation include that a person undergo drug and alcohol treatment, complete community service hours, attend a victim impact panel, and pay a fine of up to $1,500.
The public may be curious as to what kinds of plea bargains are usually offered in DUI cases in this jurisdiction. There are some general guidelines for plea bargains, but every case is different, and every defendant comes to court with a different life history, so the plea bargain offered to any individual defendant may be very different than the general guidelines suggest. In this jurisdiction, plea bargains for a first time DUI/DUID defendant usually do not involve a jail sentence, unless the blood alcohol level (BAC) was over .2, in which case there is a mandatory minimum of 10 days jail. If an accident was involved, the plea bargain may require jail sentence as well. First time offenders are always required to complete all of the other requirements of probation including drug and alcohol treatment, community service, and fines. Failure to complete these requirements can then result in a revocation of probation and a jail sentence. Obviously the plea bargain offers for repeat offendersgenerally involve more punitive sanctions, including jail sentences.
As of 2014, a fourth or subsequent DUI is a class four felony.
In the event a police officer has grounds to believe a person operating a motor vehicle is driving under the influence here in Colorado, the driver required to take either a blood or breath test to determine the level of alcohol and/or drugs in their system. If the officer believes a driver is under the influence of drugs in addition to, or instead of alcohol, the officer can require that the test be a blood test only. If a driver refuses to take such a test, the driver faces a mandatory revocation of their driver’s license or privilege to drive, and the fact of such refusal can be used against the driver at a trial. This is called the “Expressed Consent” law, because by choosing to drive on the roads here in Colorado, a driver has expressly consented to taking such a test if an officer has grounds to believe that the driver has committed an alcohol ro drug related driving offense. It is the policy of the District Attorney to aggressively prosecute cases where individuals have refused to take such a test, in order to avoid rewarding people who fail to honor their commitment as a Colorado driver to take such a test. Below are sample English and Spanish express consent forms, that explain this law and the obligations of Colorado drivers.