How Does a Colorado DUI Arrest Affect My Driving Privileges?

ignitionWhen you are arrested for a DUI, two separate processes begin. The first is the judicial process by which your criminal charge is adjudicated. The second is the administrative process. This expedited process deals with whether your driver’s license will be suspended and under what conditions it will be reinstated. Administrative actions are executive functions, and their outcomes are deemed civil in nature rather than criminal. So, even though they may be appealed in court after exhausting the administrative process, courts tend to grant the agency broad discretion and are reluctant to overturn their judgments.

Requesting a Hearing

When you are arrested for a DUI, the arresting officer has authority to give you notice of revocation immediately and is required to then submit a report to the DMV outlining the legal basis for the arrest. This triggers DMV action that automatically results in your license being revoked unless you request a hearing in writing.

The Hearing

The issues at the hearing will vary depending on the case, but most hearings will focus on one of two issues:

  • In the case of an alleged refusal to submit to a test, the issue will be whether the arrestee in fact refused to submit to a chemical test. If refusal is found, a license suspension will be automatic.
  • In the case of non-refusal, the issue will be whether the officer had probable cause to suspect the individual of having a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher. Note that Colorado law does not require the DMV to consider the legality of the initial traffic stop for these purposes. It only requires the officer to demonstrate that once he or she contacted the driver, there was sufficient evidence to justify an arrest for DUI.

The outcome of an administrative hearing is not a determination of guilt for criminal purposes, and it only relates to the status of your driver’s license.

Revocation and Reinstatement

When your driver’s license is revoked in an administrative hearing, the timing and circumstances of reinstatement depend on the driver’s age, blood alcohol concentration, and history of prior offenses.

If you are over the age of 21, your first offense will result in a nine-month suspension, your second offense will result in a 12-month suspension, and your third offense will result in a 24-month suspension. Early reinstatement after a month of no driving is possible, but usually this is under the condition of having an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.

If you are under the age of 21 and your blood alcohol concentration was below .08%, the first offense results in a three-month suspension, the second offense results in a 24-month suspension, and the third offense results in a 36-month suspension. No early reinstatement is permitted in these cases. However, when the first offense involved a blood alcohol concentration under .05%, a probationary license may be issued after one month of no driving.

Additional Penalties

All of these consequences are separate from the consequences of any criminal proceedings.  Depending on the facts, circumstances, and outcome of the criminal case, further driving restrictions may be imposed.  These restrictions run concurrently with the DMV imposed restrictions, and in some cases they outlast them.

Contact a Denver DUI Attorney Today

If you have been arrested for DUI in Colorado, the assistance of a good criminal defense attorney is essential to navigating the legal and administrative processes in which you will find yourself entangled. At the Tiftickjian Firm we specialize in DUIs.  We can assist in both the criminal and the administrative proceedings to ensure you are treated fairly. Call us today for a free consultation.

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