A DUI is a serious charge in Colorado, especially if the offender has prior offenses. Once Colorado charges you with DUI, five possibilities will present themselves:
- A guilty plea;
- A conviction;
- A compromise (such as a plea bargain);
- An acquittal; or
- A dismissal.
A dismissal is the most desirable outcome because it means that the state or the court dropped charges against you. If your case is dismissed, there won’t be any consequences—you can walk free without submitting a plea or going to trial. The grounds for securing a DUI dismissal are numerous, at least in theory.
What Are Your Statistical Chances of a DUI Dismissal?
According to a 2018 report issued by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, about 10% of all Colorado DUI arrests were resolved through dismissals. But before you get dismayed by the relatively low percentage of dismissals, remember that not all DUI defendants enjoy experienced and aggressive legal representation.
Among the cases that were not dismissed, many defendants may have retained mediocre or overburdened attorneys. Some defendants even choose to represent themselves. Your chances of winning a Colorado DUI dismissal are much better when you have an experienced DUI charges lawyer who knows how to fight for your rights and who won’t stop until they get the best resolution possible for your case.
Possible Grounds for a DUI Dismissal
Depending on the facts of your case, you might be entitled to a DUI dismissal. Reasons vary, but they normally involve some sort of incompetence or overreaching by the police. Let’s take a look at some of the most common grounds for a DUI dismissal.
Lack of Reasonable Suspicion to Pull You Over
The police cannot arbitrarily pull you over, and they cannot pull you over for a trivial reason. They must find at least “reasonable suspicion” that you have committed a traffic violation or a crime. If the facts show that the police did not have at least reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime, you can challenge the stop. If the judge finds reasonable suspicion for a stop is lacking, they will likely dismiss your case.
No Evidence That You Were Driving
The police must present some evidence that you were actually driving or had actual physical control of the vehicle while you were intoxicated. In Colorado, as in many states, the car does not have to be moving for you to get a DUI.
If you have actual physical control of the vehicle while you are intoxicated, even if you are asleep with the keys in your pocket, the police can arrest you for DUI. For a DUI conviction, however, someone had to have witnessed you either driving the car or exercising control of the vehicle. That evidence may be the testimony of an officer or a citizen who saw you driving erratically. Without proof of your control of the car, the case can be dismissed.
Illegal DUI Checkpoint
DUI checkpoints that check every driver for intoxication are legal in Colorado. Nevertheless, the police sometimes administer these checkpoints illegally. The police might, for example, stop you for simply turning around to avoid the checkpoint. Racial profiling is another illegal tactic. If the police do not strictly comply with the restrictions on DUI checkpoints, you might be able to exploit their noncompliance to win a dismissal.
Faulty Administration of a Breathalyzer Test
A breathalyzer gives accurate results only when the police maintain and use it correctly. If the police measure your BAC too soon after you last drank alcohol, for example, your reading will measure the amount of alcohol in your mouth rather than your bloodstream. This mistake could greatly overestimate your actual BAC. Many other breathalyzer errors are possible as well.
Faulty Administration of a Blood Test
The police will give you a blood test instead of a breathalyzer test if they suspect that you are intoxicated on drugs rather than alcohol. They may also subject you to a blood test even if they suspect alcohol intoxication, because of the widespread belief that blood test results are more credible than breathalyzer test results.
Field Sobriety Testing Errors
A field sobriety test occurs before a breathalyzer test. These tests may include walking a straight line, touching your nose with your eyes closed, etc. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues guidelines for field sobriety tests, and Colorado police are required to abide by them.
If the police improperly administered your field sobriety tests, applying the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine might leave them with no probable cause to subsequently administer a breathalyzer or blood test. Once the judge throws out the breathalyzer or blood test, they might dismiss your charges for lack of admissible evidence.
The “Rising BAC” Defense
If the police arrest you for DUI, they will probably measure your BAC at the police station. Although it is not illegal to be intoxicated at a police station, prosecutors win convictions by extrapolating backward in time. The reasoning is that if your BAC was above the legal limit an hour after the police pulled you over, you must have been even more intoxicated while you were driving.
In the rising BAC defense, you assert that you drank a lot of alcohol immediately before the police pulled you over. Since alcohol needs time to take effect, you can assert that your BAC rose above the legal limit only after the police pulled you over. This defense is likely to work only if your measured BAC was marginally above the legal limit.
Contact Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C. to Increase Your Chances of a DUI Dismissal
If the police have arrested you for DUI, take heart. I have over a quarter of a century of successful experience handling DUI charges defense for my clients. If you need help securing a Colorado DUI dismissal, call Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C. You can also contact me online to set up your initial consultation. I look forward to meeting you to discuss how I can help!