The Colorado DUI Trial

If there is no disposition reached in your DUI case, the matter will proceed to a trial. A Colorado DUI trial is where it is decided whether you are guilty or not guilty of each charge against you. A trial will not generally happen for at least four to six months after you were arrested, and sometimes longer depending on the jurisdiction where the court case is pending.

When entering your “not guilty” plea, you must elect a jury trial or a bench trial, otherwise referred to as a court trial. In a bench trial, the judge also takes the role of the jury and decides whether you are guilty or not guilty. Most DUI cases proceed to a jury trial, where a jury panel that consists of residents of the county who are brought into court. At the beginning of the trial, the judge, the prosecutor, and your DUI attorney will each attorney will ask the panel of potential jurors questions and then choose six people to serve as jurors in the case. Potential jurors can be dismissed for cause or as a preemptory challenge, which means for any reason other than race, sex, or another protected category.

In the DUI trial, the jury (or judge in a court trial) decides whether the prosecution has proven each DUI charge beyond a reasonable doubt. The verdict must verdict must be unanimous for each charge, meaning each juror must vote the same way for a conviction or acquittal. To find a defendant guilty in a drunk driving case, all six jurors must vote guilty; to find a defendant not guilty, all six jurors must vote not guilty. If the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, the judge will declare a “hung jury.” If there is no verdict, the judge would declare a mistrial, and schedule a new trial at a later date.

In a DUI trial, the prosecution must prove that you were substantially incapable of safely operating a vehicle due to the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or both to convict you of driving under the influence. If the jury (or judge) finds you not guilty of DUI, then the lesser-included offense of driving while ability impaired will be considered. In addition, if you took a breath or blood test that resulted in a BAC of .08 or more, the prosecution will proceed on an Excessive Alcohol charge, or DUI per se. This is a second alcohol-related offense that you could be convicted of. Either a conviction for DUI or DUI-per se counts as one DUI conviction.

If the verdict at trial is guilty for DUI or DWAI, the judge will impose sentence immediately or in the alternative order you to appear at the probation department for a pre-sentence interview and proceed to sentencing on a later date. If the verdict is not guilty, then you would be free to leave.

There is a common sang in the legal profession that only a fool represents himself. If you have been charged with DUI in Colorado a defense lawyer can assist you in a DUI jury trial.