Facing a DUI Charge in Colorado While on Vacation

So, you got charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in Colorado. Whether it is a marijuana-DUI (DUI-D) or alcohol related DUI or DWAI, a pending charge requires your immediate attention. To preserve your driver license and freedom, there are immediate steps that must be taken.

Out-of-State Driver License Issues 

The laws are different for out-of-state residents who are charged with DUI in Colorado. If a police officer alleges you refused or failed a breath test, you must immediately request a DMV hearing in Colorado. If you do not, your Colorado driving privilege will be revoked. Even though you do not reside in Colorado or have a Colorado driver license, this will cause a hold in the National Driver Register (NDR). Once there is a hold in the NDR, no state will renew or allow you to hold a driver license. This means that if you live in Illinois, your license will be revoked, and Illinois will not let you have it back until the hold in the NDR is lifted.

If you consented to a blood test upon arrest, you likely still have your driver license. A driver license revocation will be triggered in the future if the blood results come back .08 or more. S there is a limited time to request the hearing after the results are completed, being proactive here is important as well.

Traveling to Court

You will also have a court hearing in Colorado. Your personal appearance is required, or a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Often, once an attorney is retained, the court will cancel the first court hearing and schedule another future hearing. The purpose of this process is to allow your attorney to get the evidence and speak to the prosecuting attorney before you appear in court.

A typical DUI case in Colorado could take 4-months to a year before there is a resolution. Your attorney may be able to get permission for you to virtually appear for court instead of traveling back and forth. Virtual court is a new process in Colorado and can save a lot of time and money by limiting travel and lost employment due to court appearances.

Jail and Probation Issues

If convicted of DUI in Colorado, jail and probation are the consequences. While most judges will not throw someone in jail for a first-DUI offense, some will. Once a person has a prior DUI or DWI conviction, jail is mandatory regardless of how old or where the prior case happened. In addition, some first offenses require mandatory jail, such as a DUI with a BAC of at least .20. Jail is served in the Colorado county where the offense occurred in.

Probation for out-of-state residents also causes issues. The Probation Interstate Compact requires judges to allow offenders to serve their probation sentence in their home state. To accomplish this, a person has their probation transferred to their home state, and are supervised by a probation department in the county that they live in.

For first-offense DUI cases, the courts do not use the interstate compact for probation transfers. Instead, the probation department in Colorado will continue to monitor probationers while they live outside Colorado.

Travel Issues

If you were released on a bond, meaning you or someone had to pay for your release, you are not allowed to leave the state without your judge’s permission. Even if you were released on a personal recognizance bond (PR bond), no travel outside of Colorado is a standard requirement. To leave the state and return home, you must receive court permission. If you were served with a summons to appear, you likely do not have any requirements to stay in Colorado while the case is pending.

Problems arise when someone is released and immediately travels home with a court hearing scheduled in a few weeks to a month. Your DUI lawyer can file a motion to allow you to return home while the case is pending. Judges require you to also sign a waiver of extradition for this request.

Proactive Approach 

Taking a proactive approach when charged with DUI is critical. We often refer clients to DUI classes and other types of programs to mitigate the case and get the best court disposition. When living out-of-state, it is important to begin this process as soon as possible. In many DUI cases, completion of a Colorado-approved alcohol and substance abuse education and therapy course is required to reinstate one’s driving privilege. To prevent additional time without a license, it is important to enroll sooner rather than later and even before the first court hearing.