More Than 10,000 DUI Arrests in Colorado in 2017

Colorado is serious about its approach to discouraging driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. As part of this approach, law enforcement departments around the state participate in heightened DUI enforcement periods as part of a program known as ‘The Heat Is On’. ‘The Heat Is On’ targeted enforcement periods are scheduled throughout the year when there is often an uptick in the number of individuals driving under the influence, such as national holidays and other public events. According to a recent article from The Denver Post, 2017 saw more than 10,000 arrests for driving under the influence.

By the Numbers

According to the article, there were a total of 10,359 drivers arrested during the various enforcement periods throughout the year. That is 3,080 more arrests than last year’s total of 7,279, marking a 42% increase. Targeted enforcement periods provide for increased DUI patrols, DUI public awareness campaigns, and other essential law enforcement activities aimed at combatting driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

This year’s efforts included two additional enforcement periods for a total of 14, which could account for some of the increased numbers. The most recent enforcement period covered New Year’s celebrations and ran from December 29, 2017 to January 2, 2018. According to an article from The Coloradoan, 366 people were arrested during that enforcement period alone.

While the state has not yet released official numbers, the article notes that law enforcement officials believe 226 people died on Colorado roads as a result of alcohol-related vehicle crashes during 2017. This number represents about one third of the total number of traffic deaths in Colorado in 2017.

Harsh Penalties

Many drivers facing DUIs could be looking at harsh penalties, especially those that are repeat offenders. While it may not have an impact on repeat offenders’ decisions to drive under the influence, lawmakers recently closed loopholes in the state’s felony DUI law that made it possible for individuals facing their fourth or subsequent lifetime DUI charge to avoid jail time. In addition, there are costly financial penalties that do not end when fines and court costs are paid as vehicle insurance will also cost a lot more after a conviction.

Legal Assistance with Colorado DUIs

When it comes to a DUI, you need to work with a criminal defense attorney who understands the nuances of DUI law. An attorney that focuses their practice on working with clients facing DUI charges can take a thorough and dynamic approach to working with you on your defense. Jay Tiftickjian has written extensively on DUI defense in Colorado, and his criminal defense team is ready to work with you. If you have been arrested on suspicion of a DUI, you do not have to face those charges alone. Contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more information about the legal process potentially involved in facing these charges as well as what options might be available to you in building your defense.

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The Heat was On: Statistics of Colorado DUI Incidents in 2016-2017

Colorado Enforcements and DUI’s up from 2016

Despite tougher laws being passed to deter people from driving while impaired or under the influence, over 10,000 Colorado drivers were arrested in 2017 during 14 periods of designated enforcement designed to catch and arrest drunk drivers. This staggering number comes just six months following a major law change in August that now requires jail time for all felony DUI convictions in the state of Colorado.

Colorado law enforcement agencies increase patrols and put additional officers on the street during national holidays and public events as part of The Heat is On, a high-profile enforcement campaign sponsored by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). In 2017, fourteen “enforcements” saw an increase in DUI-preventative activity across the state of Colorado—including sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols, and additional on-duty law enforcement personnel—up from twelve in 2016.

About One-Third of Driving Fatalities Involved Impaired Drivers

The Heat is On “provides grants to law enforcement agencies to conduct overtime DUI enforcement using state and federal funding,” combined with a strong public awareness campaign against driving while intoxicated. According to Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, about one-third (226) of Colorado’s 629 driving fatalities in 2017 involved impaired drivers.

2017 saw 10,359 drivers arrested during the fourteen Heat is On enforcement periods for suspected intoxicated driving, a steep 42% increase from the 7,279 arrested in 2016. The number of arrested drivers is not the only increase between 2016 and 2017. 226 impairment-related fatalities on Colorado roads occurred during 2017, up from 191 in 2016—an 18% increase in just under a year.

During the most recent enforcement period (New Year’s Eve 2017), 357 drivers were arrested between 12/29/17-1/2/18—a nearly 30% increase from the 279 drivers arrested during the same 5-day span in 2016.

Festivals and “Drinking Holidays” Yield More Arrests

Longer enforcements in 2017 naturally saw a higher number of arrests, with records indicating that the 39-day long Spring Event Enforcement had the most arrests of the year with 1,958 DUI-related arrests, up from 1,555 arrests in 2016 (a 26% increase). Enforcements of a substantial length of time (the Spring, Summer, and Fall festivals) and those that fell around “drinking holidays” (St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve, etc.) tended to have the most arrests in both 2016 and 2017.

The amount of time each enforcement period persists varies substantially, ranging from 3-39 days dependent on events/holidays and the time of year. In 2017, the enforcement periods averaged approximately 13.5 days each, with an average of 740 arrests made during each enforcement period.

CDOT’s website provides additional information by both period and year, including enforcement plans from local precincts and a breakdown of arrests made during each enforcement. In addition, CDOT offers a list of resources for those affected by impaired drivers, as well as more information on Colorado’s past and present DUI enforcement programs.

Ignition Interlock Financial Assistance program

Ignition Interlock Financial Assistance program Guest Post

Do you or a loved one require an Ignition Interlock for a first-time DUI conviction, but are struggling to pay the cost of installation and monthly lease? Because a revoked license can affect one’s ability to earn a livable income, it is critical to ensure that driving privileges are restored to responsible drivers as soon as possible. Thanks to the Ignition Interlock Financial Assistance program, Coloradoans who wish to prove their responsibility after a first-time DUI offense may be eligible to earn up to $400 in assistance towards their Ignition Interlock lease charges. For more information about Ignition Interlock, and to determine your eligibility for the program, check out our guest blog post at Smart Start today!

Alleged Drunk Driver Crashes into Longmont Home

Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs can be dangerous on a number of levels. Not only does it risk the life of the driver who is under the influence along with any passengers in his or her car, but it also puts everyone else on the road in danger. Sometimes, driving under the influence can pose a serious risk of safety even to individuals who are not sharing the road. According to the Longmont Times-Call, that was recently the case when a driver suspected of being under the influence of alcohol crashed his sport utility vehicle into the living room of a Longmont home, allegedly barely missing severely injuring some of the occupants.

The Accident

According to the article, there were six people in the home. Two of the individuals had just poured a glass of wine and were going to retrieve some things from another area of the home when they were forced to run from what they originally thought was an explosion. Slowly, all of the occupants in the home at the time emerged to find a sport utility vehicle had crashed into the living room wall leaving an eight-foot hole where the wall used to be.

Shortly thereafter, several other individuals rushed into the home to make sure everyone was OK. Among these people included the driver of another vehicle that had been hit by the sport utility vehicle a few moments prior to it crashing into the home. The article notes that this was the second time in a week that a vehicle had crashed into a home in Longmont, with another driver suspected of operating under the influence recently driving through a fence and a shed before colliding with another home.

DUI with Property Damage

If the driver is found to have been operating his vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, he will be facing serious consequences. However, when a DUI conviction involves property damage, especially extensive property damage like in the story above, then the penalties faced can be even more severe. A DUI with property damage can lead to a felony charge depending on the value of the property and the circumstances of the accident leading to property damage. There are several considerations when determining property damage charges, and working with a criminal defense attorney as early as possible in the DUI process can help you anticipate these charges.

Legal Assistance with Colorado DUIs

If you are facing a Colorado DUI, the consequences of conviction can be severe. If your DUI involves the injury or death of another person or any damage to property either intentionally or unintentionally, it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense team that understands the nuances of Colorado law surrounding these types of charges. The Tiftickjian Law Firm focuses on working with clients facing these types of charges and understands the many approaches to defending against DUI charges in Colorado. For help with your Colorado DUI charge, contact the Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more about the charges you are facing and how their criminal defense team can work to face those charges with you.

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Is DUI Expungement Possible?

With the consistent popularity of television programming focused on the legal field or the incorporation of legal aspects into television and movies, there are a lot of misconceptions about the law. Courtroom scenes on television and on the big screen are always dramatic, filled with fiery speeches and awestruck juries. The truth of the matter is that real life rarely mirrors these scenes, and that can lead to a lot of confusion when people find themselves in need of legal assistance. One such area of confusion is often expungement, and many people facing a Colorado DUI wonder if expungement of a DUI conviction is possible for them.

What is Expungement?

Expungement is a term often associated with juvenile court. Basically, expungement is a process by which a criminal charge is erased or removed from an individual’s record. Even in cases where you have not been convicted but have merely been arrested, you may have a criminal record. Expungement can be a helpful tool to keep employers from learning about criminal charges in your past.

Typically, expungement is left up to the states. That means Colorado has its own regulations when it comes to expungement. In Colorado, expungement may be an option if you meet the following qualifications:

 

  • Charges have not been filed against you;
  • Charges that were filed were later dismissed;
  • You were acquitted of charges filed against you that were not dismissed; and/or
  • A specified period of time – generally 10 years – has passed without any additional charges against you.

 

Even falling into one of these categories does not necessarily guarantee an expungement will be granted.

Expungement should not be confused with having a criminal record sealed. In sealing a criminal record, the record still exists and can be accessed through certain actions though they are not generally available to the public. With expungement, the criminal record is literally deleted. Juvenile records are typically sealed after the youth reaches a certain age if the charge depending on the circumstances of the case, and while expungement does not have an age requirement, it is often more readily available for issues arising when a defendant is a minor.

Can a DUI be Expunged?

Typically, courts will not entertain the idea of expungement for an adult DUI charge or conviction. In cases where an individual has admitted to or been found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs resulting in a DUI conviction, then expungement is not a remedy available to that person. However, in rare circumstances, specifically those listed above, expungement might be a mechanism that can work for you – though you should not depend on it as a way to remove criminal charges from your record.

Legal Assistance with Your Colorado DUI

The best way to avoid having a DUI follow you around for life is to drive sober. Even one drink can sometimes put you over the legal limit to drive, so if you are drinking then you should have a plan of action in order to avoid the need to drive. However, if you are facing DUI charges then it is important to make sure you defend your rights. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is an important step in advocating for your rights and defending against any criminal charges, including DUIs. If you are facing Colorado DUI or related charges, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out more about the DUI process and what it might mean for you.

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The Government’s New Approach to Legal Marijuana

When Colorado residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana use through Amendment 64 in 2012, it was no secret that a lot of loose ends would need to be worked out. One of those things was that marijuana remained, and still remains, illegal under federal law. At the time, the administration provided a directive to the United States Department of Justice to more or less look the other way and let Colorado determine how to approach regulation and prosecution – within reason, of course. However, a change in Washington, D.C. brought some uncertainty to the future of recreational and medicinal marijuana in Colorado and states that have legalized it since then. According to a recent article from USA Today, the long-awaited word on the new administration’s approach to marijuana still leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

Moving Forward

The most recent federal action in relation to legalized marijuana use comes from the United States Department of Justice. According to the article, the past approach created what looked to be a “safe haven” by virtue of the federal directive to federal prosecutors not to interfere with a state’s approach to marijuana as long as doing so did not interfere with federal law enforcement policies. The current administration has rescinded that guidance, calling it “unnecessary” but providing little direction beyond that.

What this ultimately means is that the decision as to whether to prosecute charges related to legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana will, at least for now, be left up to federal prosecutors in states where marijuana use in any capacity has been legalized. While these attorneys have not been ordered to enforce federal marijuana law, they have been given the discretion to do so should they wish.

Those watching the situation are still unsure about whether there will be a rise in federal prosecution of marijuana-related cases, but some to do see this as a way to discourage the growing marijuana industry. According to an article in The Hill, some attorneys from states where medicinal or recreational marijuana is legal have already stated that they will not change their approach from the guidance provided by the previous administration. This includes the United States Attorney for Colorado. That means the current status quo will remain for now, though that may still be forced to change should the federal government initiate a more direct initiative moving forward with marijuana.

Marijuana-Related Crimes

Even in states where medicinal and recreational marijuana use is legal, it is still possible to violate the laws governing such use. In such instances, the consequences of conviction can be severe, and Colorado is no exception. If you are facing marijuana-related drug charges in Colorado, it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to make sure you understand your rights and how to work with your attorney to advocate for them. For legal assistance in handling Colorado drug-related crimes, 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 and what options might be available to you in your defense.

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New Marijuana Laws Took Effect January 1, 2018

With the new year comes a host of new laws and regulations not just in Colorado, but around the country. While the newly enacted tax plan might have grabbed most of the headlines when it comes to new legislation, there are some important changes to Colorado’s marijuana laws that residents and visitors should be aware of. Keeping abreast of changing marijuana laws and understanding how those changes impact you are important parts of being proactive in engaging in the legal use of recreational marijuana, and a recent story from Denver’s ABC-7 sheds some light on exactly what those new changes entail.

Laws Governing Growing Marijuana at Home

In 2017, laws permitted residents to grow up to six plants per individual over the age of 21 living in a residence. Three of those plants could be flowering at a given time. However, new regulations limit the growth of marijuana at home to 12 plants total unless residents qualify for exceptions after certain conditions have met. These conditions are typically dictated by local municipalities, so it is important to be aware of city and county regulations governing growing marijuana at home. The plants must still be kept in a locked area that is enclosed and not openly visible, which means marijuana plants cannot be grown outside. Marijuana products grown and made at home cannot be sold.

Retail Sales

New rules governing retail sales at aimed at preventing people from engaging in “looping” when it comes to purchasing marijuana on a daily basis. “Looping” is a term used to refer to individuals that purchase marijuana multiple times a day in a given dispensary. Often, law enforcement officials have found that individuals engaging in this practice are illegally reselling marijuana purchases to others ineligible to purchase the products legally, such as minors or other people that might otherwise be barred from making a purchase.

These new regulations will limit sales in a dispensary to one per day per individual, preventing return visits. People purchasing marijuana will not only be barred from selling it to individuals who have met the legal purchase limit for the day, but will also be prohibited from transferring a purchase to someone that has already met the daily limit. Dispensaries will also be held accountable when employees knowingly violate these regulations, or otherwise should have known that an individual has already met his or her daily limit.

Legal Assistance with Colorado Marijuana and Drug-Related Crimes

Recently enacted laws leave individuals especially vulnerable to violating them. It is easy to make a mistake, forget, or not do enough research to find out what the local laws governing marijuana use are. In such cases, you might find yourself facing Colorado marijuana-related charges. Conviction on these charges can have serious consequences, which can make marijuana-related charges intimidating. However, you do not have to face them alone. Contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more information about the charges against you as well as what options might be available to you in defending against them.

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Understanding Early License Reinstatement

When it comes to a Colorado DUI, consequences of conviction can be severe. Sometimes, a conviction on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is unavoidable. One of the mandatory consequences for a DUI conviction is suspension of driving privileges. When conviction happens, it is important to consider the options you have moving forward. In many circumstances, those convicted of a Colorado DUI will be eligible for early reinstatement of their driver’s license depending on the circumstances of their conviction.

First Offenses

For first offenders whose blood alcohol concentration is less than 0.150% at the time of chemical testing, your license will be revoked for a nine-month period, but you may be eligible for reinstatement after one month of revocation if you commit to an ignition interlock device for the remaining eight months. For those with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.150% or higher at the time of chemical testing, a driver’s license is revoked for a mandatory nine-month period and you are also eligible for reinstatement after completing one month of revocation. However, individuals convicted of the latter offense will likely need to maintain an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for at least two years. Your criminal defense attorney can help you understand the possible qualifications you will need to meet in order to request early reinstatement for your Colorado driver’s license.

Reinstatement Process

The reinstatement process often takes several weeks to work its way through the system, so you should consider beginning that process three or four weeks before you hope to gain reinstatement privileges. The state will not take additional steps to notify you of when you are eligible to request reinstatement, nor will they inform you of when a license revocation or suspension has ended other than providing that information on the initial correspondence related to the penalty.

You can start the reinstatement process online or you can go through the process through the mail, though doing so online can expedite the process a little. The process begins by completing the state’s Application for Reinstatement. You will also need to provide:

 

  • A check or money order (if requesting by mail) or other acceptable form of payment (if requesting reinstatement online) in the amount of $95;
  • Evidence of insurance and related SR22 verification (basically, certification of being a “high-risk” driver from your insurance company); and
  • Any other specific documentation that may be required by state law or your probation as a condition for reinstatement.

 

You will also need to have an ignition interlock device installed in the vehicle you will be driving, and will likely have to provide proof of such installation. Failing to comply with ignition interlock requirements either because you register a blood alcohol concentration of a specified level on three separate occasions or drive a vehicle other than yours equipped with an ignition interlock device, or if you tamper with that device, then you will lose reinstatement privileges and your license will be revoked for a year or the remainder of the original revocation period, whichever is longer.

Legal Assistance with the Colorado DUI Process

It is important to keep in mind that all 50 states share licensing revocation and suspension information. If Colorado revoked your license and you do not complete the reinstatement process successfully along with other conditions of your probation, you will not be able to obtain a license in another state. It is extremely important to follow through with the conditions of your DUI probation and consider reinstatement when the time to do so is right for you. For more information about the potential consequences of DUI convictions, including information about the reinstatement process, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out more information about the important questions you need answered.

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Alleged Drunk Driver Leads Police on Long Distance Chase

 

It is no secret that drunk driving can be dangerous. It poses a serious risk of injury to the individual driving under the influence, anyone in that person’s vehicle, and any other vehicles sharing the road. However, driving under the influence of alcohol can be even more dangerous when it involves a refusal to pull over while trying to evade law enforcement. According to a recent story from Fox 31 – Denver, that is just what happened recently when a suspected drunk driver led police on a 75-mile chase that ended in the driver’s arrest.

The Chase

The chase began in Jefferson County, just to the west of Denver. Law enforcement were notified that an individual was operating a vehicle in a way that made it seem as though he or she was intoxicated. When law enforcement responded and identified the vehicle that had been reported, the chase began. Ultimately, the chase would lead law enforcement over 75 miles from Jefferson County to Summit County over an hour later. No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

Avoiding Additional Charges

This suspect is likely facing numerous charges in addition to driving under the influence if it can be established that driver was, in fact, intoxicated at the time of the chase. While authorities have not released a great deal more information, it is probable that the suspect will face charges ranging from evading arrest to reckless driving depending on the various factors that came into play throughout the chase. A conviction for driving under the influence can have significant consequences, but those consequences will be even more severe if they are accompanied by convictions for companion offenses.

If you are pulled over under suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, it is important to make sure you understand your rights as well as your responsibilities. Cooperation is key, but doing so within reason will help protect and preserve your rights. For instance, it is always in your best interest to be polite and cooperative with police but to not provide them with additional evidence to build a case against you. One way you can do that is by politely asserting your rights to decline roadside sobriety testing.

Legal Assistance with Colorado DUIs

Facing a DUI in Colorado can be intimidating. However, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney that focuses their practice on working with clients facing similar charges can help you navigate the process with more confidence. If you are facing charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and especially if you are facing additional charges related to those actions, it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney right away. For help with your Colorado DUI and 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 and what options might be available to you in your defense.

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Drug Bust Yields Over 200 Pounds of Pot

With the growing legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana across the country comes a host of new issues for law enforcement to contend with. New laws regulating the use of marijuana must be developed and enforced, and that is no easy task with something that is still relatively new to the United States. As a pioneer of recreational legalization, Colorado laws and enforcement techniques are often in the national spotlight. A recent marijuana bust once again highlights the vigilance of law enforcement when it comes to ensuring regulations governing legalized marijuana are followed. According to a story from Denver’s ABC-7, this recent drug bust netted over 200 pounds of illegal marijuana.

The Bust

According to the story, the investigation started when a property manager provided a tip to law enforcement. The property manager had apparently been trying to reach the tenant renting the home where the bust took place by phone and email without success. When the property manager went to the property to make sure nothing bad had happened to the tenant, the property manager entered the home and found refined marijuana that was in various stages of packaging for likely distribution. The property manager then called the police.

Acting on that tip from the property manager, Colorado Springs police obtained a search warrant to enter the property and came upon more than 200 pounds of marijuana – 212 pounds to be exact – that they believe may be linked to a Mexican drug cartel. According to the news release the story is based on, law enforcement officials also found six handguns, including one weapon that had been reported as stolen by law enforcement personnel in California earlier in 2016.

Police have not released details of which cartel they believe the marijuana is linked to other than saying there was evidence inside the home of such a link. At the time that the property manager entered the home and later when police entered, nobody was inside. Colorado Springs police officials say they do have a suspect, though no arrests were immediately made.

Adhering to the Law

While medicinal and recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, it is essential that anyone engaging in its growth, possession, and/or use adhere to the laws that govern it. Some of those laws will change in 2018, so keeping abreast of them is an important part of partaking in marijuana responsibly. Law enforcement and municipalities across the state take violations of the state’s regulatory scheme seriously, and running afoul of those restrictions could land you in jail for a number of years in addition to other consequences like monetary fines and mandatory rehabilitation program attendance. The consequences are especially severe when it comes to driving under the influence of marijuana, which is strictly prohibited.

With the nuances in Colorado’s marijuana laws and the changes that will inevitably take place, it is possible to violate the law unintentionally. No matter the reason for violating the law, facing drug-related charges is serious and requires an experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorney that understands your rights and how to best advocate for them. If you are facing Colorado drug 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 what options might be available in defending against them.

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