| Read Time: 4 minutes | DUI Defense

What to Know if You Are Charged with a DUI from Marijuana

Over the past decade, society has taken a more relaxed attitude when it comes to marijuana.  Colorado was one of the first two states, along with Washington, to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. However, despite the fact that adults can purchase, consume, and grow marijuana legally, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. At the Lux Law Firm, founding attorney Austin Lux represents clients facing all types of DUI cases, including marijuana DUIs in Colorado. As a seasoned trial advocate, Attorney Lux has extensive experience handling DUI cases and commands an impressive knowledge of the complex laws that govern these claims. And as a former prosecutor, he understands how the government handles marijuana DUIs—and knows what it takes to beat even the toughest cases. Colorado Marijuana DUI Laws While it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, marijuana DUI cases are quite different from those that involve drinking and driving. For one, alcohol DUI cases impose a “per se” blood alcohol limit. This means that if your blood-alcohol limit is over a certain amount, you are guilty of drunk driving. This is the case even if there was no evidence that alcohol actually impaired your ability to drive. Marijuana DUI cases are different in that there is no “per se” limit. Instead, prosecutors must prove that you were under the influence of marijuana and that the drug impaired your ability to drive. In a way, this makes it harder to prove a marijuana DUI case because it isn’t enough to prove that marijuana was in your system. That said, there is a presumption that marijuana impaired your ability to drive if you had more than five nanograms of THC in your system. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana and is what gives users a “high” or “stoned” feeling. When you consume marijuana, your body immediately starts breaking down the drug in a series of chemical reactions. Initially, the byproduct of these reactions is the creation of THC. Over time, the body continues to break THC down into inactive metabolites. Therefore, marijuana can remain in your system for up to several weeks after consumption. But the presence of inactive metabolites in your blood does not mean that you are high or that you cannot drive safely. Thus, just because you have marijuana “in your system” doesn’t mean that you were intoxicated. How the Government Proves a Marijuana DUI Case To prove you guilty of a Colorado DUI, the prosecution must establish that you had THC in your system and that your ability to drive was impaired. Unlike alcohol, marijuana does not show up on a breath test. Thus, police officers will typically administer a blood test if they think you were driving under the influence of marijuana. However, the government does not need to present chemical test results to prove you were under the influence of marijuana. In some cases, prosecutors will proceed with a case even if there was no blood test performed. For example, if you refuse to provide a blood sample prosecutors can still go forward with the case. In these situations, the prosecution may rely on other evidence of intoxication, such as: Bloodshot or watery eyes; The smell of marijuana in the car; The presence of marijuana in the car; The presence of a pipe or other drug paraphernalia; and Other indications that you were high. Unsafe to Drive Regardless of whether the prosecution has chemical test results, it still needs to show that you were in a condition that made it unsafe for you to drive. Prosecutors typically try to establish this element through a police officer’s observations. For example, the government may try to prove you were impaired by marijuana by showing: You caused an accident; You drove too fast or too slowly; You couldn’t stay in your lane; You drove erratically; or You violated any other traffic law. Given the complexity of Colorado DUI laws, there are many defenses to these cases. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand the laws as they apply to your case and develop a compelling defense. Defenses to Marijuana DUI Cases There are potential defenses to every crime, and marijuana DUIs are no exception. Defenses to a marijuana DUI charge typically involve challenging either the elements of the offense or the manner in which the officers obtained the evidence the prosecution intends to use against you. Challenging the Elements of a Marijuana DUI On the most basic level, prosecutors must prove two things to successfully bring a marijuana DUI case against you. First, that you were under the influence of marijuana, and second, that the marijuana impaired your driving. The prosecution must prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If your defense attorney can cast enough doubt on either of these elements, you may beat the case. Common ways to attack the elements of a marijuana DUI case include establishing the following: You were not under the influence of marijuana; Your driving was not dangerous; or A traffic violation was not the result of marijuana intoxication. If you can prevent the prosecution from proving the elements of the offense, the judge or jury will have no choice but to find you not guilty. Challenging the Evidence in a Marijuana DUI Case The second way to beat a DUI case is by challenging the evidence. In most marijuana DUI cases, this involves filing a motion to suppress. A motion to suppress is a pre-trial filing in which your attorney argues the evidence the prosecution wants to use against you is not legally admissible. Typically, motions to suppress surround the manner in which the police officers obtained evidence. In this context, “evidence” may be physical evidence, such as marijuana found inside the car or an officer’s observations of intoxication. You can also seek to suppress the results of a blood test. For example, the following can all be the basis of a motion to suppress. Police officers pulled...

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | DUI Defense

Penalties for a First-Time DUI in Colorado

Colorado imposes serious consequences on drivers convicted of driving under the influence. These potential penalties increase in severity if a driver receives multiple DUI convictions. Luckily, a first-time DUI conviction in Colorado carries the potential of the least severe punishment.  The Colorado Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) published a report analyzing over 26,000 DUI cases filed in Colorado in 2018. The report indicated that Colorado prosecutors convicted the driver of DUI in 88% of the cases. Over one-third of the individuals convicted of DUI already had at least one DUI conviction.  An experienced DUI defense attorney can vigorously defend your DUI case, aiming to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Attorney Austin M. Lux with the Lux Law Firm possesses extensive knowledge of Colorado’s strict DUI laws. Contact us today for assistance with your DUI. What Happens if You Get a DUI in Colorado? Colorado prohibits operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Colorado considers “under the influence” to include when the driver: Has his or her ability to drive safely substantially impaired by drugs or alcohol; or Has a blood-alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.  First-time DUI convictions carry a variety of consequences, including: Between five days and one year in jail; A fine up to $1,000; License revocation for up to nine months; Up to 96 hours of community service; and Substance abuse education classes.  Drivers convicted of DUI with a BAC above .15% receive a “persistent drunk driver” classification, resulting in enhanced penalties.  Unlike some states, Colorado does not have a “lookback period” after which prior drunk driving offenses are removed from your record. Any previous DUI in a U.S. state is considered a prior DUI. Before accepting a plea agreement, individuals charged with DUI should consult with a DUI defense attorney about options available in their case. Failure to do so could result in the waiver of several constitutional rights. Colorado’s Express Consent Law Colorado has an express consent law, meaning that every person driving on Colorado’s roads agrees to submit to a chemical test if a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The refusal to submit to a chemical test carries penalties separate from a DUI charge. The consequences of refusing a chemical test include: The refusal can be used as evidence of guilt at trial; Designation as a “persistent drunk driver”; and Your license will be suspended for one year by the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  In the event your license is suspended for one year, completing alcohol education courses and agreeing to installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for up to two years creates the opportunity to have your license reinstated earlier. Additional Consequences Associated with a DUI Conviction In addition to the possibility of jail time and probation, courts enforce additional restrictions on drivers convicted of DUI. Drivers with a DUI conviction often face consequences stemming from their DUI outside of the penalties ordered by the court. Ignition Interlock Devices Colorado requires drivers with first-time DUI convictions to install an ignition interlock device in his or her vehicle for at least eight months. An IID is a breathalyzer installed in a vehicle designed to measure the alcohol in the driver’s breath. The IID prevents the vehicle from starting until a breath test is completed. For individuals who use drive as a part of their job responsibilities, an IID could affect your employment.  Additionally, IID installation and maintenance is not cheap and the cost is borne by the offender.  Other Possible Repercussions A DUI conviction goes on your permanent criminal record and will appear anytime someone runs a background check. In fact, Colorado does not allow traffic convictions to be sealed or expunged. Some employers prohibit employees from having a DUI conviction on their criminal record. A DUI conviction could result in termination depending on the industry of employment. Insurance companies increase rates for drivers convicted of DUI. Additionally, certain housing applications disqualify applicants with a prior criminal conviction. Between fines, alcohol education classes, and other requirements, monetary obligations negatively impact many drivers convicted of DUI. How Can a Colorado DUI Attorney Help Me?  An attorney with experience handling Colorado DUI cases can present arguments to the prosecutor for why your DUI charges should be lessened or dropped. Common defenses to DUI charges include: Inadequately trained police officers; Unreliable chemical test results; Lack of probable cause for the traffic stop; Improperly administered field sobriety tests; and Lack of proper Miranda warning. Depending on the circumstances of your traffic stop and arrest, a DUI attorney can negotiate with the prosecution to have your case dismissed or your charges reduced.  Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney with The Lux Law Firm Today Attorney Austin Lux began his legal career as a Deputy District Attorney, prosecuting dozens of criminal cases and delivering numerous trainings to local law enforcement agencies. Austin made the transition to private practice in order to advocate for his individual clients in the courtroom.  Austin’s experience as a former prosecutor provides him with inside knowledge of the process of DUI convictions. In 2020, Austin was named a Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney Under 40 in Colorado, an honor awarded to less than 1% of Colorado criminal defense attorneys. Contact our office today for assistance with your DUI case.

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | DUI Defense

Colorado Felony DUI Laws: Overview and Defense

Consider Hiring an Award-Winning DUI Defense Lawyer to Defend Your Charges of Felony DUI in Colorado  Charges of felony DUI in Colorado are severe. You face felony DUI jail time and other repercussions if you stand convicted of a Colorado DUI felony. Therefore, you need to do everything you can to protect your rights. Would you know where to turn if you face criminal charges that could ruin your life?  Award-winning DUI defense lawyer Austin Lux possesses the necessary knowledge, skill, and determination to make a difference when you and your family need it most. You can rely on former county prosecutor Austin Lux to fight vigorously to protect your valuable rights. Is a DUI Considered a Felony in Colorado? Colorado law establishes a felony charge for DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, and DUID. Most folks understand DUI as an abbreviation for driving under the influence. DUI per se refers to a chemical test result of 0.08 or greater. However, Colorado also uses the abbreviation DWAI or driving while ability impaired, as well. DWAI refers to a chemical test result between 0.05 and 0.079 when the police have the slightest evidence of intoxication. Additionally, Colorado law prohibits driving under the influence of drugs or DUID. We will refer to these charges collectively as DUI. The penalties for these charges are similar. The difference between the three charges lies in the evidence the police plan to use against you.  How Many DUIs Are a Felony in Colorado? Under Colorado law, DUI charges are misdemeanor offenses until you have three prior convictions. Your fourth and subsequent DUI offenses are Class 4 felonies. Colorado, unlike some other states, uses a lifetime lookback rule for prior DUI convictions. Under Colorado law, any conviction for a DUI in any state or U.S. territory, no matter how old, serves as evidence of a prior conviction.  State law restricts prior convictions to convictions for separate offenses instead of several charges stemming from one incident. Also, state law allows prosecutors to use convictions from other states or territories. These convictions count as long as the acts constituting a DUI crime in those jurisdictions would be a crime if committed in Colorado as an adult. Colorado law allows prosecutors to use convictions for various offenses to prosecute a Colorado DUI felony. The prosecution can use any combination of convictions for DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, DUID, vehicular homicide involving alcohol or drugs, and vehicular assault.  Colorado law explicitly requires the prosecutor to set out the prior convictions in an indictment or information. The rule is essential to a person facing a felony DUI in Colorado. As we will see later, attacking the prior convictions might be a valid defense to a Colorado DUI felony. This defense could not attack the prior convictions if the prosecutor did not notify the person charged. What Is a Conviction Under Colorado Law? Colorado law explicitly defines conviction as a verdict of guilty. A judge or jury could enter the guilty verdict after a trial or pleading guilty. The term conviction also applies to deferred judgments and sentences as well as deferred adjudications.  However, the prosecution cannot use a deferred sentence or adjudication against you as a prior conviction if you completed the deferred sentence successfully. Thus, the prosecution could use a deferred sentence or deferred adjudication against you if you failed to satisfy the conditions set by the court, or you pick up another offense while on a deferred sentence or deferred adjudication. Felony DUI Penalties Colorado strictly punishes individuals convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUI offense. Felony DUI in Colorado is a Class 4 felony. As such, the sentencing judge could sentence you to prison for up to six years, which is the maximum sentence for a Class 4 felony.  Colorado law gives judges some leeway. Not every person convicted of felony DUI will go to prison. Under Colorado law, a felony DUI can result in a jail sentence of 90 to 180 days if the judge determines that is the proper sentence. Alternatively, the judge could sentence you from 120 days up to two years in jail if you qualify for a work-release program.  As with every crime, the penalty depends on the facts of the case, the person’s history. The judge could also reduce the penalty if they find extraordinary mitigating factors exist. However, the prosecution has some say in the potential penalties. The prosecution has another powerful tool it could use to exact even stricter punishment. The judge could sentence you from the midpoint of the Class 4 felony sentencing range (four years) up to double the maximum sentence (12 years) for a Felony DUI conviction. However, the prosecutor must prove that aggravating circumstances exist before the judge could sentence you to an enhanced penalty.  Additional Felony DUI Penalties Colorado’s DUI law authorizes the sentencing judge to impose additional sanctions for a Colorado DUI felony. In addition to incarceration, the judge must impose sanctions such as: 48 to 120 hours of community service; A monetary fine between $2,000 and $5,000; Level II alcohol or drug education and treatment; Two years of probation;  Parole for at least three years; and Two years of mandatory ignition interlock use after the reinstatement of driver’s license. The minimum driver’s license revocation for a felony DUI in Colorado is one year. Reduced Sentence for Colorado DUI Felony Colorado’s DUI law expressly prohibits plea bargaining unless the prosecution in good faith convinces the judge that the case is weak as initially charged. Only then can the judge accept a plea to a non-alcohol, a non-drug-related crime, or underage drinking and driving.  However, the law’s prohibition on negotiating a DUI case to reckless driving or other lesser offense does not mean that the judge will throw the book at you for a Colorado felony DUI conviction. Colorado’s DUI statute expects judges to examine whether incarceration is the best option in each specific case. The judge must consider other options if you never had a chance to complete probation...

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| Read Time: 6 minutes | DUI Defense

Colorado DUI Laws: Fines and Penalties

Learn What You Need to Know If You Face a DUI in Colorado Facing a DUI in Colorado could lead to grave consequences. Colorado DUI laws are some of the toughest in the nation. Thus, you will need the assistance of a highly-skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer.  If police arrested you in Colorado Springs, you should not wait to contact a DUI lawyer who has a proven track record of successfully defending DUI cases. Austin M. Lux was a prosecutor. Now he is an award-winning Colorado Springs DUI defense attorney. Austin focuses his practice on defending people charged with a Colorado DUI, among other criminal offenses. You can rely on Austin’s experience and extensive knowledge of Colorado DUI laws to help avoid the harsh consequences of a mistake. Colorado DUI Penalties Under Colorado DUI law, a person can be convicted of DUI if they operate a motor vehicle when  Their ability to drive safely is substantially impaired by either drugs or alcohol, or  They have a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or greater. Driving under the influence (DUI), driving with your ability impaired (DWAI), and driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) are crimes that fall under the same law. Penalty for First Offense DUI in Colorado A first DUI offense charge in Colorado is a misdemeanor. The penalty for a first DUI conviction in Colorado is surprisingly harsh. After a conviction for a first DUI in Colorado, if you took a breath test or chemical test that gave a result of 0.08 or greater, you face: Between five days and one year in jail; A fine not to exceed $1,000; Compulsory license revocation of up to nine months; Community service obligation up to 96 hours; and Alcohol education classes. The judge could put you on probation to ensure that you satisfy all the requirements following a first DUI conviction. Mandatory Jail Time for a DUI First Offense Prosecutors can seek an enhanced penalty against a person facing DUI charges in Colorado for many reasons. Enhanced penalties often include mandatory jail time, along with other sanctions. The prosecution could seek an enhanced penalty if you have a breath or chemical test resulting in a BAC of 0.20 or greater. In that case, the judge must sentence you to at least 10 days in jail. The judge has the discretion to grant you a work release or serve your sentence on home confinement while wearing a GPS ankle bracelet. The Difference Between DUI Per Se and DWAI DUI per se refers to providing a chemical test result or a breath test result of 0.08 or higher. DWAI is a charge that can be based solely on the observations of the police officer. To support a conviction for DWAI, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused drove when the person’s ability to do so safely was impaired. This can be done even without the results of a chemical test or if the chemical test results fall between 0.051 and 0.079 BAC. The penalties for a DWAI conviction are less severe than a conviction for DUI per se. The potential sentence for a conviction of DWAI includes: Two days to 180 days in jail; A fine not to exceed $500; 48 hours of community service; and Eight points against your driver license. The judge has the authority to place you on probation for a conviction of DWAI as well.  The reduced penalties for DWAI are not necessarily an incentive to refuse the breathalyzer because of Colorado’s express consent law. Express Consent Law in Colorado You should be aware that Colorado has an express consent law. Therefore, any person who drives in Colorado agrees to take a chemical test if a police officer believes that the driver is under the influence.  Refusing to take the chemical test has consequences. First, Colorado law allows the prosecution to use the chemical test refusal as evidence of guilt at your trial. Essentially, the prosecution gets to argue to the jury that you refused the breath or other chemical test because you knew you had a BAC of 0.08 or above. That is compelling evidence. Secondly, the Colorado DMV will suspend your license for one year for refusing the breath test and may consider you to be a persistent drunk driver (PDD). You have the opportunity to reinstate your license if you take alcohol education classes and agree to use an ignition interlock device for up to two years. Colorado law imposes these sanctions against you even if the jury finds you not guilty after trial. These are administrative penalties and work in conjunction with any criminal penalties imposed. You have the right to appeal the DMV’s decision to suspend your license for refusing to take a breath test. You must file that appeal within seven days of your DUI arrest. Missing that deadline means you lose your right to appeal. Second Offense DUI in Colorado If police charge you with a DUI second offense, then you are facing potentially more severe repercussions. However, the length of time between your first and second offenses may determine whether the judge treats you as a first-time offender. If you have a second DUI in Colorado, the judge could treat you as a first-time offender if your prior conviction was at least 10 years prior. You should be aware that all convictions for DUI outside of Colorado count toward a second offense DUI. The first and second DUI penalties are similar. For a DUI second offense, which is a misdemeanor, you face up to: A minimum of 10 days in jail, with a maximum of one year; A fine between $600 and $1,500; License suspension for at least one year; At least 48 hours of community service, up to 120 hours; Two years of probation; Level II alcohol education; and Possible installation of an ignition interlocking device. The judge can also order you to enter into a treatment program for alcohol addiction for a second DUI in Colorado....

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