Labor Day DUI Crackdown Nets Nearly 1,200 Arrests

Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is always a serious concern for people traveling by car. No matter what state you live in, DUI charges are serious and law enforcement officials are serious about reducing the number of individuals driving under the influence. Every year, Colorado law enforcement departments across the state participate in a program known as “The Heat Is On.” This program, funded by state and federal transportation grants, created 12 enforcement periods throughout the year when DUIs are statistically more likely to occur. One of those enforcement periods covers Labor Day, and according to KKTV-11 this year’s enforcement period saw nearly 1,200 arrests.

This Year’s Numbers

Traditionally, summer and the holidays scattered throughout are busy times for law enforcement patrolling the streets for drivers operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Labor Day traditionally signals the impending change of seasons with people enjoying the last remnants of summer weather and fun. However, driving under the influence should not be a part of anyone’s celebration and this year’s enforcement period highlight how serious law enforcement officials are about keeping Colorado’s roads as safe as possible. In fact, 1,184 people were arrested during this year’s enforcement period which ran from August 18 through September 5.

Typically, these enforcement periods consist of increased police presence through additional patrols, additional DUI checkpoints, and other aspects of public awareness aimed at making sure everyone fully understands the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. One of the main focuses of the public awareness component is educating people so that they understand even one or two drinks can significantly impair their ability to drive, especially considering the increasing size of many single drinks. Colorado Springs reported the highest number of arrests out of any of the 121 law enforcement agencies across the state that participated in the heightened enforcement period this year with 106 arrests. The next enforcement period is already underway with the Fall Festivals DUI enforcement lasting for the next five weeks. To help individuals keep track of their drinking and have a better understanding about their level of impairment, the Colorado Department of Transportation is also teaming up with a personal breathalyzer manufacturer to offer a discount on the devices.

Legal Assistance with Your Colorado DUI

While most people are well aware of the dangers of driving under the influence, it is still possible to make the mistake of driving after you have had too much to drink or when you are under the influence of drugs. If you are facing Colorado DUI charges, you do not have to face them alone. Working with an experienced Colorado criminal defense team that focuses their practice on helping clients facing similar charges can help make sure the process easier for you to navigate. Contact the Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation about your DUI charges where you can find out more information about the defenses that might be available to you based on your individual circumstances.

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The Myth of “Smart” Breathalyzers: Flaws of CDOT’s Breathalyzer App

We’ve come to rely on apps to manage virtually every aspect of our lives. Budgeting apps keep us from overspending. Fitness apps keep us on target. Social media apps keep tabs on our friends. But will a breathalyzer app keep us from getting behind the wheel when we’re too impaired to drive?

Colorado Department of Transportation’s BACtrack App

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has answered unequivocally in the affirmative. The CDOT has gone so far as to partner with BACtrack, a company that makes professional and personal breathalyzers, to offer a mobile breathalyzer that wirelessly interfaces with a smartphone app. When connected via Bluetooth, the BACtrack app allows users to guess their blood alcohol content (BAC), then prompts them to take a deep breath and blow into the breathalyzer. Subsequent screens show the user’s BAC and an estimate of when it will return to zero.

The CDOT has launched a public service announcement campaign, “Before You Go, Know,” that encourages Coloradans to purchase BACtrack breathalyzers and offers a 20 percent discount on BACtrack products. In Colorado, the BAC limit for a DUI is .08 percent, and the BAC limit for a driving while ability impaired (DWAI) is .05 percent. At first glance, the idea of a portable breathalyzer seems like a no-brainer; look a little closer, however, and serious questions emerge about the efficacy of personal breathalyzers.

Flaws in CDOT’s 2016 Survey

"There is about as much scientific validity to CDOT's claims as a public opinion poll"The current initiative builds on the findings of a survey conducted in the summer of 2016, when 225 random people in the Denver metro area were given BACtrack products in exchange for feedback. Although the CDOT press release headline screamed, “Smartphone breathalyzers lower risk of DUI,” there is virtually no support for that claim. While scientific studies are typically peer-reviewed, the research analysis for the CDOT survey does not appear to be publicly available. Instead, the efficacy of personal breathalyzers was promoted because “84 percent of participants agreed that owning a smartphone breathalyzer lowered their risk for a DUI/DWAI,” and “82 percent agreed anyone who regularly drinks should own a breathalyzer.” In other words, there is about as much scientific validity to the claim as a public opinion poll.

No Control Group

There are other ways that the CDOT pilot program strains credulity. A scientific study tests a hypothesis by setting up an experimental group and a control group. In this instance, the experimental group would be those using the personal breathalyzer. A control group would consist of people who do not use a breathalyzer. The only way to determine if the breathalyzer changed behavior is to compare the two groups and to ensure that there wasn’t a third factor – called a confounding variable – at play. In this instance, however, there was no control group. Therefore, it’s impossible to assert a correlation – much less causation – between behavior and a breathalyzer.

Not Double-Blind

Scientific studies also randomize research subjects, and some go so far as to conduct what are called double-blind studies, where even researchers don’t know which people receive the substance or item being studied and which do not.

Not Representative of Population

In addition, the greater the number of research subjects in a study, the more reliable the findings. For their 2016 summer survey, however, CDOT and BACtrack handed out only 225 breathalyzers at a Denver brewery and at the CDOT itself. This hardly constitutes a sample representative of all Coloradans.

Partnership with People Convicted of a DUI

Curiously, even in the absence of a scientific foundation, the CDOT took their BACtrack partnership a step further this summer, distributing smartphone breathalyzers to 475 Coloradans who have been convicted one time of driving under the influence. According to the CDOT’s press release, the agency is not actually seeking data on whether or not the use of a personal breathalyzer impacts subsequent DUI arrests or convictions. Instead, they are surveying users about how users feel the breathalyzer influences their behavior. In addition, CDOT is keeping a log of the user’s BAC, time, and location every time the breathalyzer is used. Yet there is no mandate to use the device, meaning that the data will not reflect every time the first-time offender reaches or exceeds the legal limit; instead, it will record data each time the drinker decides to use the device.

Further, the data will only be used in the aggregate, meaning that there is no connection to law enforcement. This could be because Colorado case law and statutes say that preliminary breath testers (PBT) are inadmissible in court, except to determine probable cause, because they are inaccurate. In other words, law enforcement can’t enter the results into evidence to incriminate a suspect, and defendants can’t use PBT results to prove their innocence. This makes the CDOT’s decision to encourage those who have been convicted of a DUI to use a PBT even more perplexing.

Reliability of preliminary breath testers

Beyond the myriad flaws in the CDOT studies, there are issues with the reliability of PBTs purchased online that call into question the devices’ efficacy. For example, BACtrack says that the user should wait 15 minutes after drinking, eating, or smoking to use the device. It is easy to imagine a scenario where people don’t wait and thus get inaccurate readings. In fact, even the CDOT’s video public service announcement depicts people using a personal breathalyzer while they’re at the ballpark, beers in hand.

Problems with smartphone breathalyzersUsers of smartphone breathalyzers report glaring inaccuracies. In one review, a user says, “[The] reading will be totally off if [the] battery is low, which takes a month or less to happen.” Other users complain about Android compatibility issues, or that the device continually displays a reading above zero. Sometimes, users complain that the device still reads zero after two drinks, and other times, that the calibrations are simply wrong.

It turns out that these issues are just the tip of the iceberg. Chemical and paint fumes can cause readings to go haywire, as can mouthwashes and breath fresheners. Moreover, manufacturers recommend that the user conduct multiple breath tests and avoid “human error.” It is difficult to imagine an alcohol-impaired person successfully navigating technical PBT maneuverings multiple times. It’s much easier to imagine them thinking that it’s simply not worth the trouble.

Beyond the finicky nature of PBT technology is the issue that even the most accurate result simply represents a snapshot in time. If a person drank five shots within 15 minutes and immediately used a PBT, their blood alcohol could easily fall below Colorado’s DWAI or DUI limits. On the road a half hour later, and it would likely be a different story. PBT readings don’t take into account the many variables impacting the human body’s rate of metabolizing and eliminating alcohol, such as age, gender, weight, food eaten, and the time period over which alcohol is consumed. Even assuming a device is completely accurate, the person has to take multiple readings over a significant period of time to determine whether their BAC is rising or falling. That’s neither practical nor reasonable.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Relying on a personal breathalyzer purchased online to accurately determine BAC seems reckless. The difference between being safe to drive and being impaired is a fine line, one best not left to devices with unproven accuracy or efficacy. Apps are great for many aspects of our daily lives; but entrusting our lives to an app is foolhardy.

Report: Fatal Alcohol & Drug-Related Crashes In Colorado Up From 2016

It’s a startling number. Every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention. This is amounts to one death every 51 minutes. Unfortunately, the numbers aren’t any better for drug-related crashes either. In a recent article by The Denver Post, statistics show that drivers killed in crashes are now more likely to be on drugs—particularly opioids or amphetamines—than under the influence of alcohol.

The Latest Numbers on Alcohol and Drug-caused Crashes

 Fatal alcohol and drug-caused crashes are up by 28% over 2016.At Tiftickjian Law Firm, P.C., we did some digging to find out whether Colorado highways were safer now compared to last year. Sadly, the preliminary numbers are a bit troubling. Based on information provided by Colorado State Patrol, fatal alcohol and drug-caused crashes are up by 28 percent over the same period last year. Alcohol and drugs have been to blame for at least 41 deadly crashes through June of 2017, compared to 32 over the same period in 2016.

Despite the uptick in deadly accidents caused by impaired driving, there is some good news. So far this year, injuries caused by alcohol and drug-related crashes have decreased by nearly eight percent. According to CSP, impaired driving stemming from alcohol and drugs have resulted in 214 crashes so far this year, compared to 232 for the same period last year. Property damaged caused by impaired driving also decreased by seven percent.

Marijuana Citations Down

Several European studies have found that marijuana use only slightly increases the risk of a crash while opioids, amphetamines and mixing alcohol with drugs greatly increases the risk of an accident. In Colorado, the legal limit for impairment by marijuana is 5 nanograms of THC in the blood. Based on recent stats, Coloradans appear to be doing a better job at following the law and avoiding stoned driving all together. According to Colorado State Police, marijuana citations are down this year compared to 2016. So far this year, police have issued 329 marijuana citations to drivers versus 416 issued last year. That’s nearly a 21 percent decrease.

Reasons for Fewer Marijuana Citations

There are a few possible reasons for this decline. We hope that it’s due to the fact that Coloradans are getting the message about the dangers of “driving high behind the wheel.”  We’ve also seen an uptick in the number of people taking ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

However, we should also realize that this decrease in citations may be a result of fewer police officers on the road, or those officers making fewer stops.  The fact that alcohol and drug-caused fatal crashes are up by 28% yet marijuana citations are down seems to support this.  We’ll need more data before we’re able to determine the true effect of each.  Here are additional statistics on impaired driving in Colorado involving alcohol or drug-related causes, provided by the Colorado State Patrol.

Colorado DUI Citation Statistics:

Colorado DUI statistic citations 2016 vs 2017

 

Colorado Drug Citation Statistics:

 

Impaired Driving: How Other States Compare

When it comes to impaired driving, Colorado drivers appear to be more responsible on the roadways compared to drivers in other states. According to CarInsuranceComparison.com, Northern states in the Midwest and West are the most dangerous for drunken driving. Wyoming ranked first in fatalities and in driving-under-the-influence arrests in 2015. North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, South Carolina, Mississippi, New Mexico, Kentucky, Maine and Arkansas round out the ‘Top 10’ list for the states with the worst DUI problems. Colorado was near the middle, at #21.

When it comes to comparing drug-related crashes among states, the numbers aren’t readily available online. However, safety experts will agree drug-impaired driving is major problem for all 50 states. In fact, a recent study on highway fatalities found that 43% of motorists nationwide who died in a car accident had drugs in their system. This number surpassed the 37% of motorists who died who tested positive for alcohol in the same year.  However, we need to keep in mind that laws, interpretations, and testing practices vary among states, and drugs can stay in drivers’ systems far longer than alcohol.

Alcohol & Drug-Related Charges: Seeking Legal Assistance

A conviction stemming from alcohol or drug-related impaired driving can result in very serious consequences in Colorado. If you have been charged for driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while impaired due to prescription medication or illegal drugs, it is extremely important to work with an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney. The criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm has worked with numerous clients defending against these and similar charges. If you are facing alcohol or drug-related charges, contact the Colorado criminal defense attorneys at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more about the charges you are facing as well as a potential defense that could be available for your circumstances.

Understanding Breathalyzers

 

One of the most important qualities of an experienced Colorado DUI attorney is being able to understand the various nuances of DUI cases. While DUI cases may seem relatively straightforward, they are actually complex and each one is unique. Experienced DUI attorneys understand the specialized knowledge required to work with clients facing these serious charges. This includes understanding the science behind establishing evidence in a DUI case, including understanding how different breathalyzers function. The accuracy of breathalyzer readings can vary based on the machine and other factors, which is why it is important for your Colorado DUI attorney to have a solid understanding of how such machines work and what could result in invalid or skewed readings.

Semiconductor Breathalyzers

This type of breathalyzer machine works by measuring the resistance of a semiconductor to an electric current that passes through it. Alcohol will change the semiconductor’s resistance, so these machines give blood alcohol concentration measurements based on how much the semiconductor changes from its starting point. The more alcohol an individual has consumed, the more of a change will occur.

Fuel Cell Breathalyzers

This type of breathalyzer machine works by capturing a suspect’s breath in a chamber. Inside the chamber, an electrochemical process will oxidize alcohol contained in the breath sample. This reaction creates an electrical current, the strength of which is dependent on the amount of alcohol in the breath sample.

Infrared Breathalyzers

This type of breathalyzer machine works by using infrared technology to get a blood alcohol concentration reading. The technology works by measuring how much infrared light is absorbed by ethanol molecules resulting from alcohol consumption.

Factors Influencing Breathalyzer Results

While it is important to understand the technology behind how breathalyzers work, it is also important to have a good understanding of various factor that could skew or even invalidate breathalyzer results. Some of these factors include:

 

  • Use of mouthwash or breath mints;
  • Presence of acetone or ketone in breath samples as a result of certain medical conditions;
  • The temperature of your breath when a sample is taken; and
  • The presence of outside factors that could influence the results of a breathalyzer test, like paint or other chemicals that may register with your breath sample.

 

Breathalyzers also require regular calibration to ensure that they are operating accurately. Failure to certify that a machine has been properly calibrated, or the presence of the above and/or other factors, could mean that a breathalyzer reading is invalid.

Legal Assistance with Colorado DUIs

If you are facing a Colorado DUI, the consequences of conviction could be severe. That is why it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense team when facing such serious charges. Jay Tiftickjian has written extensively on the Colorado DUI defense process, and the Tiftickjian Law Firm has a unique understanding of important scientific factors that are important considerations in any DUI case. If you are facing a Colorado DUI, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more information about what strategies might be available for your defense.

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Illegal Marijuana Discovered on Colorado River

There is no shortage of debate over whether or not legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado was a good idea. Regardless of how people feel, there are strict laws governing the growth, possession, and use of recreational marijuana mandated both by the state and local communities. Criminals are always searching for new ways to skirt those laws, and often that means getting creative about how you will engage in illegal marijuana growing. Recently, The Denver Post reported on an illegal marijuana growing operation located on two islands in the Colorado River. This bust resulted in two arrests and the confiscation of 9,200 marijuana plants.

Island Grow Busted

More than 50 local and federal law enforcement officers participated in the pre-dawn raid on September 7, 2017. The law enforcement officers approached the grow site, located only approximately 100 meters from the highway, both by foot and by boat. While many of the marijuana plants were hidden behind natural forest growth in the area, some of the marijuana plants had grown so tall that they could be seen over the natural growth from the highway. Plants were lifted by a DEA helicopter to a landing site in the Island Acre section of James M. Robb State Park. While most of the confiscated plants were taken to local area landfills to be destroyed, law enforcement officials and United States Drug Enforcement Administration agents kept 200 of the plants and their root bulbs to use as evidence in the federal criminal trial that will result from this bust.

The article notes that this bust comes around a year after another individual was arrested with thousands of marijuana seeds in his pocket while approaching an island in the Colorado River. Officials returned to the same area to see if any of the individuals involved in the original growing operation had returned to the area, at which time they discovered a camp. The two individuals arrested during this bust were armed with pellet guns. A third armed individual also acting as a guard for the grow operation fled the scene. The suspects face federal charges related to their roles in the illegal grow operation.

Facing Colorado Drug Charges

Even as national opinion on recreational marijuana seems to be favoring legalization, as seen in last year’s election which saw several more states do so, each of these states still has strict rules governing legalization. Colorado is no exception, and a conviction for Colorado drug charges can have far-reaching effects. If you are facing Colorado drug-related charges, including charges for driving under the influence of marijuana and/or other drugs, it is important to work with an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney who has experience working with clients facing similar charges. Contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more about the charges you are facing as well as the options that might be available in your defense based on your circumstances.

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Sharp Increase in Marijuana Fatalities

Colorado’s Amendment 64 legalized recreational marijuana use throughout the state after its 2012 passage. More than three years later, many questions surrounding legalized recreational marijuana remain. The state has made many advances in its approach to regulating the industry in an effort to make it safer for residents and visitors. As allowed by law, various local municipalities have also enacted legislation to help ensure that potentially negative effects of the marijuana industry are kept at bay in their communities. One of the most difficult issues to address is how to prevent people from driving under the influence of marijuana. A recent article in The Denver Post indicates that there has been a sharp increase in the number of marijuana-related traffic fatalities, which leaves many people wondering if the legalization of recreational marijuana use is to blame.

Troubling New Numbers

According to state and federal data analyzed for the article, the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana has more than doubled since 2013. The article also points out that in some locations, specifically the Front Range counties, drivers in fatal traffic accidents testing positive for marijuana have showed increasingly potent concentrations of THC in their bloodstreams. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the active chemical ingredient in marijuana responsible for producing the effects associated with “being high” after using marijuana. Additionally, all of the drivers testing positive for THC that survived serious traffic accidents were found to have used it within a few hours of the accident-related testing.

The article points out that, in general, traffic fatalities in Colorado have grown approximately 40% between 2013 and 2016. According to the article, those testing positive for alcohol in fatal crashes between 2013 and 2015 rose 17%. However, marijuana positives in similar accidents between 2013 and 2016 rose approximately 145%. While this is an extraordinary increase in drivers testing positive for marijuana use, state officials caution that it is difficult to link these positive tests to actually driving under the influence of marijuana since marijuana users may have residual chemicals responsible for positive tests weeks after actually using the drug. In fact, they point out that the only concrete data the increase in positive tests provides is an indication that more people are using marijuana and, at some point, are driving a car – but there is no definitive way to measure exactly how many are driving immediately after use or long after the effects of THC have worn off. However, they still caution that driving and marijuana use do not mix.

Legal Assistance with Marijuana and Other Drug-Related Charges

Even though recreational marijuana use is legal in Colorado, it is still important to abide by the state and local laws governing such use. Running afoul of those strict regulations, or laws governing the use and possession of other drugs, can result in serious criminal consequences. If you are facing marijuana or other drug-related charges, including charges for driving under the influence of drugs, it is important to work with an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney to discover what options are available to you based on the unique circumstances of your individual case. Contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation about your Colorado drug charges and find out more about the charges you are facing as well as how those charges might impact you.

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Underage DUIs

Young adulthood can be an extremely difficult. Young people are faced with many choices during this time, and the decisions they make can have a significant impact on their futures. Unfortunately, one of the tough decisions many young drivers face on a regular basis is whether to consume alcohol – which is illegal for an individual under 21 years of age in Colorado – and subsequently whether or not to drive a vehicle after having consumed alcohol. When an underage person makes the mistake of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, the consequences can be severe. Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Students Against Destructive Decisions work to promote educational programs that help educate young people and their communities about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, but young people still make mistakes and understanding the laws governing those mistakes is important.

The Law

Colorado’s law regarding underage DUIs is quite clear and very strict. In essence, no amount of alcohol or drugs in an underage person’s system is acceptable when it comes to operating a motor vehicle. In fact, an underage driver registering a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02% or above is considered to be operating a vehicle under the influence. This means even one beer could subject an underage person to financial penalties, points on their driving record, loss of their license, and other consequences such as community service. If a young person’s blood alcohol concentration is above 0.05%, then they could face the same penalties as an adult with a blood alcohol concentration that may make them liable for a regular DUI. Second or subsequent underage DUI convictions could also result in significant jail time, which may impact many aspects of a young person’s life.

Unintended Consequences of Underage DUIs

In addition to serious legal consequences that can accompany a conviction for underage DUI, there are additional consequences likely outside of the legal realm. These can include penalties such as:

 

  • Higher car insurance premiums as a result of a conviction;
  • Denial or revocation of admission to some higher education institutions;
  • Loss of awarded scholarships or inability to apply for them; and
  • Loss of job opportunities presently and in the future, among others.

 

While these consequences are not necessarily imposed by the law, they can have a significant impact on a young person’s future. Quite simply, while every person convicted of a DUI has a lot to lose, young people may have even more to worry about.

Legal Assistance with Underage DUIs

As you can see, young people facing underage DUIs have a lot to lose if they are convicted. Not only are there harsh legal penalties associated with underage DUIs, but the collateral consequences can follow a young person for the rest of his or her life. It is extremely important for anyone facing an underage DUI in Colorado to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who focuses on working with clients facing similar charges. Jay Tiftickjian has written extensively on the criminal justice process in Colorado as it relates to defending clients facing DUIs. The criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm is keenly sensitive to the potential impact an underage DUI conviction can have and intimately aware of the various factors involved in the related legal process. If you or someone you know is facing an underage DUI, contact the Colorado criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more information about the charges you are facing as well as what options might be available for your defense based on the unique circumstances of your case.

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Shifting Attitudes Complicate High Driving Prevention

When Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012 legalizing personal recreational marijuana use, it was not the first time the measure had come before them. In fact, a similar measure had also been on the ballot in 2006. The 2006 measure failed, but as we all know the 2012 measure did not. In the recent election cycle, several other states also passed recreational marijuana use measures. This is indicative of the ever-shifting attitudes of Coloradans and residents of other states have when it comes to marijuana. While proponents of legalized marijuana continue to celebrate the increasing acceptance related to personal marijuana use on both a medicinal and recreational level, a recent article from The Denver Post indicates that these shifting attitudes could actually be impeding efforts to deter driving under the influence of marijuana.

By the Numbers

Shortly after legalization occurred in Colorado, state officials conducted a survey of marijuana users. This survey indicated that 91% of 114 users surveyed were aware that driving under the influence of marijuana could result in a DUI citation. The same survey indicated that about half of the respondents drove two hours after using marijuana at least once a month, with the number remaining roughly similar in subsequent surveys. However, the frequency with which these individuals drove each month after having recently used marijuana has increased sharply. The number of survey respondents having driven 11 times or more in a month after having recently used marijuana has grown from 10% in 2014 to 21% in 2016. For state officials looking at these trends, this is troubling. In fact, the article refers to a recent Colorado Department of Transportation study that surveyed marijuana users across the state and found that 72% of those users believed it was safer to drive under the influence of marijuana than under the influence of alcohol.

Shifting Attitudes

The article points out that one of the main focuses of proponents of legalized marijuana is on the assertion that marijuana use is safer than alcohol consumption. This remains a point of contention as experts concur that marijuana intoxication is harder to measure since it affects every individual user differently. This makes applying roadside and chemical testing measures to determine whether or not someone is operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana much more difficult.

However, last year’s survey results indicated another troubling concern. While 93% of respondents knew they could receive a DUI for driving under the influence of marijuana, 73% of last year’s respondents said it was somewhat or very unlikely that they would actually get caught doing it. While this does not necessarily provide a solid explanation for the recent spike in marijuana-related accidents and traffic deaths resulting from those accidents, it does indicate that people are under the false impression that driving under the influence of marijuana is inherently safer than driving under the influence of alcohol. It is not.

Legal Assistance with Colorado Drug-Related Crimes

Regardless of how well you may think you can drive under the influence of marijuana, it is important to remember that Colorado has strict standards by which marijuana intoxication is determined. Currently, the state says that anyone testing positive for over 5 nanograms of THC in their bloodstream can be charged with driving under the influence of drugs – regardless of how recently the individual has consumed marijuana. Testing methods are constantly evolving and improving, but the consequences for being convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana can be severe. If you have received a citation for driving under the influence of drugs or other drug-related crimes in Colorado, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more information about the charges you are facing as well as what options might be available to you in your defense.

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Colorado DUIs and Plea Bargaining

As in most states, a DUI or related charge is an extremely serious criminal charge in Colorado. That means that being convicted of a DUI can have serious consequences that reach beyond the temporary inconvenience of having your license revoked and being required to pay court costs and other fines. While it is not always possible, the first step a DUI lawyer usually takes in handling your case is to look for opportunities where he or she can work with courts to help you avoid conviction. Often, this process involves what most people refer to as plea bargaining.

Approaches to Plea Bargaining

All criminal defendants have the right to take their case in front of a jury. While this might be a wise approach in some situations, avoiding trial can often save you time and money. Typically, this is where plea bargaining can come into play. As with approaching any criminal case, there is no one way to approach plea bargaining. There are a number of factors that your attorney will consider in order to determine how best to approach the plea bargain process.

Usually, your attorney will evaluate the prosecutor’s case and look for weaknesses that could make securing a conviction more difficult. Generally, the plea bargain process is most useful when such weaknesses can be found. These weaknesses can be found in a number of places, including in the reliability of evidence the prosecutor wants to use in the case or even in whether or not your rights were violated during the process that led to your DUI or related charges. Your reputation and standing in the community will usually have little impact on whether or not a plea bargain is available, so it is crucial for your attorney to pay close attention to detail in evaluating the case against you. Thus, the more your attorney knows about the intricacies of DUI defense, the more likely he or she will be to find weaknesses in the case being built against you in order to help you avoid conviction or plea bargain your charges to less severe ones.

Typically, taking proactive steps like attending alcohol education and/or treatment programs while your attorney is developing your defense will help you on the road to securing a successful plea bargain. The more you can show remorse for your actions as well as that you are willing to take productive steps to avoid future DUI or related charges, the more likely your attorney will be able to use weaknesses in the case against you to navigate the plea bargain process. Ultimately, a decision on whether or not to accept terms offered by the prosecutor will rest in your hands, but it is important to work closely with your attorney to gain a solid and realistic understanding of the strength of your case as you move forward.

Legal Assistance with Colorado DUIs

Each DUI case is unique and there is no formula for creating a DUI defense that will work for everyone. Working with an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney is an important first step in making sure you explore all options that might be available to you during the legal process associated with these types of charges. Sometimes, plea bargaining will not be an option and other times there could be other more effective options available for your defense. Attorney Jay Tiftickjian has written extensively on the legal process associated with a Colorado DUI and can use that experience to work with you. If you are facing DUI or related charges, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more information about the charges you are facing as well as which options might be available to you in your defense.

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Colorado DUIs and Professional Licenses

A driver’s license is not the only kind of license you need to worry about when facing DUI or DWAI charges in Colorado. If you hold a professional license required for your job, you may be looking at restrictions being placed on that license or even having it revoked. If that happens, you could be looking at the loss of your job and livelihood. If you are facing DUI charges and are worried about how they might affect your professional license status, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who handles these types of charges and questions immediately. Some information on how a DUI or related charge might affect your professional license is below.

DUIs and Your Professional License

There is no blanket law in Colorado that determines whether or not a DUI or related conviction will result in restriction on or revocation of your professional license, unless of course you hold a professional driver’s license that you are likely to lose as a result of this type of conviction. However, most licensing authorities have agreements that include morals clauses and other mechanisms to discourage criminal behavior. Some types of professions that may be affected include:

 

  • Licensed brokers;
  • Licensed nurses;
  • Licensed attorneys;
  • Licensed doctors;
  • Licensed principals; and
  • Almost any other professional license, especially those requiring a driver’s license to perform work.

 

The decision to revoke a professional license often lies with the licensing authority that originally issued the license. You may be required to go to a hearing before a board of individuals that deals with these types of issues. In some cases, the licensing agency may censure an individual for his or her actions or they could either suspend or revoke a license temporarily or permanently.

Other Work-Related Consequences

Individual companies employing people with professional licenses may make the decision to terminate an employee because of a DUI conviction whether or not that employee’s license has been revoked. For instance, some insurance agencies have a zero-tolerance policy for all of their agents. If you work for such a company, you may be legally dismissed as a result of your DUI or related conviction. Furthermore, you will likely need to report your conviction on all future job applications depending on the position for which you are applying.

Military personnel or those working in classified positions could stand to lose their security clearance because of a conviction of this nature. A DUI conviction can also affect your ability to obtain some permits, like a concealed weapon permit. In addition to the potential loss of a professional license, many specialized schools will withhold admission to individuals with these types of convictions on their records. If you are admitted, your ability to receive and retain a scholarship could be adversely affected.

Legal Assistance

If you are facing Colorado DUI or related charges, it is important to seek the legal assistance of an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney who focuses on working with clients facing similar charges. This is especially true in situations in which you are worried about how such a conviction might affect your professional license. Contact the dedicated criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out more about the charges you are facing, the potential options available for your defense, and how a conviction might affect you.

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(image courtesy of Robson Hatsukami Morgan)