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auto-racing-558089_1920-1024x683Drag Racing, Speed Contest, Speed Exhibition, and Street Racing charges are becoming more prevalent in both county and municipal courts throughout Colorado.  Law enforcement is really cracking down on this type of activity.  What may start out as a seemingly innocent acceleration with a car next to you at a traffic light can quickly turn into multiple and serious criminal charges with a real possibility of jail and loss of a driver’s license.  Drag racing/speed contest charges are criminal offenses in both county court and municipal court and each drag racing/speed contest charge carries 12 points against a driver’s license, which is significant enough to suspend a license for the accumulation of too many points.

Increasingly, other drivers who witness the alleged “race” are getting involved and completing witness statements, calling 911, speaking to the cops, and are willing to testify against the alleged racers.  Sometimes other drivers even present video of the “races” from the dash cameras in their own vehicles.  Although no one is advocating that street racing is “ok” or acceptable, the police have unbridled discretion to charge street racing/speed contest in some of the most benign situations where a simple revving of the motor and quick acceleration grabs anyone’s attention.  Colorado law on the issue in both county and municipal courts is very broad and covers many activities that one would not typically equate with racing.

This blog post focuses on municipal court.  Most municipal courts follow the model traffic code.  The model traffic code indicates that it’s illegal to engage in a “speed contest”.  A “speed contest” is defined very broadly to include rapid acceleration, exceeding reasonable and prudent speeds for highways and existing traffic conditions, changing lanes to gain an advantage over other “race participants”, and vying for position.  More than one vehicle is not required to be charged with a speed contest under the model traffic code.  In other words a single driver may be charged (no other vehicles are required to be involved) if the police believe that the driver is involved in a race or a time trial.

Speed exhibitions under the model traffic code are defined as operating a motor vehicle to present a display of speed or power.  Simply squealing the tires from a stop or while in motion is defined as “speed exhibition”.  Speed exhibition also includes “burning rubber” (leaving tire marks on the highway or ground), accelerating rapidly, swerving or weaving in and out of traffic, and creating smoke from burning tires.

Placing a barricade on a highway, placing an “obstruction” on a highway, assisting in placing a barricade or obstruction, and participating in placing a barricade or obstruction are all considered to be “aiding and facilitating” in a speed contest or speed exhibition.  These persons are deemed to have committed the actual offense that they are accused of aiding or facilitating.  Thus if “Joe” parks his car down the street to block off one lane of a roadway for a friendly run of “Challenger vs. Tesla”, Joe too can be charged with engaging in a speed contest (as well as the Challenger and Tesla drivers- assuming the cops could catch them).

Interestingly enough, for a 2nd violation of a speed contest or speed exhibition, the court may order the police to place an “immobilizer” on the vehicle involved for up to 14 days (typically a yellow wheel lock/boot).  The 14 days increases to up to 30 days for a 3rd or subsequent violation.  This added immobilizer penalty is in addition to any period during which the vehicle may have been seized during the pendency of the case.  Under the model traffic code, the owner of the immobilized vehicle has to pay $35 per day for the “privilege” of having his vehicle immobilized.  If the owner doesn’t pay for the removal of the boot within 14 days after the end of the “immobilization period”, then the vehicle may be deemed an “abandoned motor vehicle” and could be sold to pay for the past-due boot charges (harsh penalty!).

Further, if the owner grabs a hack saw and cuts the boot off his car (during or after the immobilization period), he could be criminally charged with a Class 2 Misdemeanor Traffic Offense.  If an immobilization device/boot is not available to the law enforcement agency because they simply aren’t equipped with the device or because they currently don’t have enough of them, the Court may order that the vehicle is impounded during the length of the immobilization period.

Speed contest and speed exhibition charges in municipal court have far reaching consequences and should not be taken lightly.  Careful investigation and preparation of these cases is critical to achieving optimal results.

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Revoked out-of-state? Even a lifetime/permanent revocation? Welcome to Colorado!  Colorado has some of the most generous laws in the country in terms of issuing driver’s licenses.  You may be eligible for a Colorado driver’s license even though you have been denied elsewhere.  Perhaps you live in New York and have received 5 or more convictions on your driving record for alcohol/drug driving offenses.  Or perhaps you caught a 10 year revocation in Florida on a 3rd DUI.  Whatever the case may be, if you are a legal Colorado resident, you might be able to get a license here regardless of the revocation imposed out-of-state.

Accordingly, even though a person is under restraint in another state, Colorado might issue that person a driver’s license under Colorado law.  In other words, a Hearing Officer may apply Colorado law to the person’s out-of-state driving record to determine when the person would be eligible for a license in Colorado had the driving violations occurred in Colorado.  If the driver would currently be eligible in Colorado had the violations occurred here, the driver may be issued a license.

“Is this legal?” The simple answer is yes.  “How can Colorado do this, doesn’t Colorado belong to the Driver License Compact?”  Yes, Colorado belongs to the Driver License Compact a/k/a “Interstate Compact” which essentially indicates that Colorado will check “the national list” (National Driver Registry) to determine if a Colorado driver’s license applicant has any outstanding holds from other states.  Colorado motor vehicle will typically advise an applicant to go clear the holds before they may be issued a Colorado driver’s license.  However, Colorado is one of the only states that has an exception to the general rule that out of state holds must be cleared first.  Colorado may issue an applicant a driver’s license after a hearing before the Hearings Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue.  Not all applicants will qualify for this type of driver’s license depending upon the nature of the hold(s) and other criteria the Hearings Division will utilize.

Not all states belong to the Driver License Compact.  Michigan, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Georgia are not members.  Some US states will even take action based upon violations that a driver receives in Canada.  These states are New York, Florida, Maine, and Michigan.

The National Driver Registry is what I refer to as the “black list”.  It is a computerized database of drivers who have been convicted of major traffic violations, have been revoked, or have been suspended.  This is the list that may prevent a driver from obtaining a driver’s license.

In Colorado, a driver’s license “revocation” refers to an action where a person’s license is cancelled for a set period of time based upon a conviction for any of the following enumerated offenses: manslaughter or negligent homicide when a motor vehicle was involved, DUI alcohol or DUI drugs, a Felony offense when a motor vehicle was used, leaving the scene of an accident involving death or injury, and other convictions.

If a person applies for a driver’s license in Colorado and thereafter is denied due to an out-of-state hold, the person may contact the state where the hold originated in an attempt to obtain a letter of clearance.  If a letter of clearance is not attainable, then the applicant may request a hearing in Colorado under the Interstate Driver License Compact Rule before the Hearings Division.  Once the Hearings Division receives the request, DMV will obtain the applicant’s out-of-state driver record which will be utilized at the hearing.

In order to qualify for a license in Colorado an applicant with an out-of-state hold/revocation must be able to show that she has not driven for at least one year.  Further, an applicant must be safe to drive in Colorado and it must be determined that the applicant would not endanger others (or property).  The applicant must be a Colorado resident (established by employment, phone bill/utility bill, voter registration, or other documentation that proves that the applicant resides in Colorado).

A reinstatement eligibility date will be determined at the hearing and an applicant should receive credit for any amount of time already served without driving privileges in the home state which issued the revocation.

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element5-digital-645671-unsplash-684x1024If a police officer in Colorado has probable cause to believe that a person’s ability to drive is impaired even to the slightest degree due to alcohol consumption, he will require the person (driver) to submit to a chemical test of either blood or breath.  According to Colorado law, the driver has already consented to this test simply by driving on the roads in Colorado.  An adult driver at least 21 years of age or older has a right to a blood test.

If extraordinary circumstances are present, then a police officer may request that a driver submit to a different test than the one chosen.  Extraordinary circumstances are those which are out of the control of law enforcement.  Examples include, but are not limited to: high call volume affecting medical personnel, power outages, malfunctioning breath test equipment and weather-related delays.  Extraordinary circumstances do not include: a busy workload, inconvenience, a minor delay that does not impact the 2-hour window to complete the test, and routine circumstances within law enforcement’s control.

Absent extraordinary circumstances, a driver may not change his election of chemical test.  In other words, a driver may not select blood and then change his mind to breath or vice versa.  The police officer is required by law to accommodate the driver’s initial selection.  Although the law does not specify sanctions when the police don’t honor the driver’s initial selection, case law has shown that dismissal is appropriate in certain cases.

The purpose of the Express Consent Statute is to facilitate cooperation between law enforcement and drivers in promoting highway safety.  In order to further this cooperation, the law creates mutual rights and responsibilities for the driver and the police.  If a police department has no reasonable protocol in place for completing the driver’s selection of test, then dismissal of the charges has been held in some cases to be an appropriate remedy.  Further, the courts have held that when an officer denies a driver his right to choose between a blood and a breath test that the officer denies the driver the right to establish non-intoxication.  The state may not disregard the statutory rights of drivers with impunity.

Although dismissal of DUI charges against a person has been held to be a drastic remedy, courts appear to be serious about ensuring that the police honor a driver’s selection.  Dismissal has been held to be an appropriate remedy when the police don’t have a reasonable protocol in place to obtain and complete the test under routine circumstances or when the test that the driver selected is not given and there is no good faith effort by the police to follow that protocol.

 

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clarisse-meyer-162874-unsplash-1024x683Probation revocations hearing in county courts in Colorado for DUI and DWAI offenses are typically based upon an alleged new law violation or a “technical violation”.  A new law violation means that the person on probation has been charged (or convicted) of a new offense while on probation.  Standard terms and conditions of probation typically include not receiving any new criminal offenses while on probation.  A new law violation must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  Often times probation will file a probation revocation complaint simply based upon a person being charged with a new law violation.  In this case, the Court should “trail” (continue) the probation revocation complaint until after the new law violation case has been resolved.  A probationer should not “admit” to a probation revocation complaint based upon a new law violation while the new law violation case is still pending.

A technical violation, on the other hand, includes violations such as not complying with monitored sobriety (hot UA’s, missed UA’s, dillute UA’s).  Other technical violations may include missing appointments or check-ins with probation, missing Level II alcohol classes (or not enrolling), being discharged from Level II classes, traveling outside of Colorado without permission, not completing community service hours, not paying fines and costs, not completing the MADD victim impact panel, as well as other possible technical violations.

Technical violations must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence (a civil standard).  Technical violations are not required to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  Probationers have the right to be released on bond during DUI and DWAI probation revocations.  Other rights of probationers include the right to an attorney, the right to remain silent, the right to know the alleged violations (i.e. to receive a copy of the complaint), and that any admission must be voluntary and not the result of undue influence or coercion.   Probation violation proceedings in DUI cases tend to move very quickly, especially if a probationer has been arrested and released on bond for a probation revocation complaint.  Often times, the Court will request an admission or denial immediately at the bond return date, which does not permit much time for the probationer or defense counsel to investigate and prepare the matter.  If an admission is entered, often times the probationer will be immediately sentenced that same day, however it is possible in some cases for the matter to be continued for sentencing at the discretion of the Court.  Depending upon which county court division the case is assigned to, if a denial is entered the matter might be set as quickly as 7 days.

If a denial is entered, the matter will proceed to hearing where the probationer has the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses against her, testify if she chooses to, receive a copy of the alleged violations and evidence against her, and have a judge determine whether or not probation was violated by a preponderance of the evidence.  A probationer is not entitled to a jury trial on the complaint.

If the probationer remains in custody on the complaint, the hearing must be held within 14 days.  This 14 day limitation also applies in situations where a probationer is arrested by her probation officer.  In that event, the hearing must take place within 14 days of the filing of the complaint.  A probation revocation complaint must be filed before the expiration of probation, otherwise the Court loses jurisdiction in the matter.

If the violation is proven (or violations), the probationer will be resentenced either to probation (typically with a punitive sanction if granted) or to a jail sentence.  If probation is granted, the old probation sentence is revoked and a new probation sentence is granted.  If the probation is not regranted, then probation is revoked and the matter is closed with a jail sentence.  The Court may sentence the person to any sentence available at the time of the original sentencing.

If a complaint contains both technical violations and a new law violation, the Court may not wish to trail the matter until resolution of the new law violation.  In this case, the Court may request an admission or denial simply on the technical violations in the complaint and then proceed accordingly.

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IMG_0524-e1554410181191-768x1024 There were 892 DUI/DWAI cases filed in Larimer County Colorado in 2018.  The average BAC amongst those cases was .154.  DUI and DWAI cases in Larimer County Court typically start in the magistrate arraignment division in Courtroom 1A.  Thereafter they typically proceed to one of the county judge trial divisions in courtroom 3D, 4D, or 5D.  Depending upon the location of the alleged DUI, some of the cases are assigned to county judge trial divisions in courtrooms L1 or L2 of the Loveland court.

If a driver submits a blood or breath test for a DUI/DWAI in Larimer County, there are presumptions or inferences that are established through the results of the blood or breath test at the time of the commission of the offense or a within a reasonable period thereafter.  If a driver’s BAC was .05 or less, the law reads that it is presumed that a driver is not under the influence and not impaired by the consumption of alcohol.  This provision of the statute can be very powerful in fighting a DUI/DWAI charge in Colorado because the law is on the driver’s side.  Many times law enforcement officers will still arrest a driver with a lower BAC of .05 or below.  It’s especially critical for a driver to have legal representation in these types of “lower BAC” cases.

There is a permissible inference that a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired by the consumption of alcohol if a blood or breath test yields a result of .051 to .079.  The permissible inference established by this BAC may also be considered with other evidence to determine if the driver was under the influence of alcohol.

If a driver’s blood or breath BAC is .08 or greater, there is a permissible inference that the driver was under the influence of alcohol.

If a driver’s blood test confirms 5 nanograms or more of THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol), there is a permissible inference that a driver is under the influence of one or more drugs.

Often times police officers in Larimer County will ask a driver to submit to a preliminary breath test (PBT) on the side of the road.  The results of the PBT, or the driver’s refusal to submit to a PBT, are not admissible in court.  A refusal to take a blood or breath test, a refusal to complete a blood or breath test, or a refusal to cooperate in completing a blood or breath test (upon being advised of Colorado’s Express Consent) however can be used against a driver in a prosecution for DUI or DWAI.

If a driver is a Medical Marijuana Card holder, the fact that the driver has been issued a medical marijuana card cannot be used against the driver in a prosecution for a DUI/DWAI offense in Larimer County or anywhere in Colorado.  Further, the fact that a driver possesses a Medical Marijuana Card is not probable cause for a police officer to require a driver to submit to a blood test.

The Colorado State Patrol, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Collins Police Department, and the Colorado State University Police Department are very active in DUI enforcement in the Fort Collins area.

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Colorado Express Consent (DUI) Revocation Hearings must be held within 60 days of the request pursuant to CRS 42-2-126.  The Hearings Division loses jurisdiction over the case after 60 days.  There are a few exceptions to the 60 day time limit such as the unavailability of the law enforcement officer or unavailability of the hearing officer.  However, there are no exceptions for the unavailability of the respondent or respondent’s lawyer.  If the hearing is rescheduled beyond the 60 day time period due to the unavailability of the law enforcement officer or hearing officer, the respondent driver’s temporary permit shall continue until the new hearing date.

Colorado case law has held that a hearing must not only be scheduled, but actually held within the 60 day time period.  In the 1989 Colorado Court of Appeals case of Wilson v. Hill, 782 P.2d 874, the Court held that the department’s failure to hold the Express Consent Revocation hearing within 60 days required dismissal of the action.  If the 60th day lands on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the Hearings Division can still hold a timely hearing outside 60 days if the hearing is held by the end of the next business day.  The date the respondent requests the hearing is not included in the calculation of the 60 days.  In other words, the Hearings Division gets a full 60 days after the date of the request to hold the hearing.  Bottom line is that it’s important to always check the date of the hearing to make sure that it’s within 60 days of the request.  If it’s not within 60 days, a motion to dismiss is critical.

Although the hearing must be held within 60 days, there is no statutory requirement that the Hearings Division actually render a decision within 60 days.  Sometimes hearing officers “take matters under advisement” for days or even weeks beyond the hearing before rendering a decision in a case.

A respondent driver must request an Express Consent Revocation Hearing within 7 days of the date of notice (indicated on the Express Consent Affidavit and Notice of Revocation).  It’s important to note that this 7 day period includes weekends and holidays.  Thus, it’s critical for a respondent driver to immediately request an Express Consent Revocation Hearing upon receipt of the Affidavit and Notice of Revocation to avoid any possible miscalculations.

There are some exceptions for timely requesting a hearing within the required 7 days.  These exceptions include when a respondent was unable to make timely request due to lack of actual notice of the revocation or factors of physical incapacity such as hospitalization or incarceration.  If a late hearing request is granted, however, the respondent driver will not receive a temporary permit to drive on up until the hearing.

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dpd-traffic-letterDid you receive one of these letters in the mail?  If so, you need to speak with a Denver criminal defense attorney who has handled multiple Denver Hit and Run cases and Investigations.  If a detective from the Denver Police Traffic Investigations Unit contacts you via a letter and/or phone call it is critical that you not make any statements and to simply and politely decline to answer any questions until you speak with a lawyer.  You are not required to answer any questions and you are not required to make any statements.

It’s worth noting that detectives are trained to get people to talk.  Your statements can (and often will) be used as evidence against you.  Often times detectives will pretend that they’re your friend and may even downplay the seriousness of the matter in order to get you to talk.  Thus it’s best to avoid the situation altogether and simply decline to make any statements and indicate that you need to speak with your lawyer.

Thereafter, once you have retained a lawyer, the lawyer can contact the detective.   Typical evidence in a hit and run case may include a description of the vehicle, a description of the driver, any physical evidence left at the scene, license plate number, cell phone photos, cell phone video, business video, government video, witness statements/interviews, and the direction the vehicle allegedly fled to.  The owner of the vehicle (if the vehicle is identified) is often assumed to also be the driver.  However, as we all know, sometimes vehicles are loaned out to friends or relatives.  Thus, there can be a lot of “moving parts” to these types of cases.

Once the lawyer has contacted the detective (and hopefully gathered as much information as possible), the lawyer can thereafter advise the person being investigated of the options in the case and whether or not it makes sense to do an “interview” with the detective.  If the vehicle involved has been seized by the police it will often be held as evidence in the case.  If the vehicle has not been seized, often times the detective will want to inspect the vehicle as part of a proposed meeting at the Denver Police Department Traffic Investigations Unit located at 3381 Park Avenue West in Denver.

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The Denver Police Traffic Investigations Unit (aka “Traffic Investigations Bureau”) is a specialized unit of the Denver Police Department that investigates cases of Hit and Run, Eluding, accidents involving serious bodily injury (SBI) and accidents involving fatalities.

There are multiple counts of Hit and Run that can be charged in just a single case.  Each charge is a criminal offense punishable by the possibility of jail and each charge carries 12 points against a driver’s license.  For an adult driver 21 years of age or older, 12 points is all it takes to suspend a person’s driver’s license.  In addition to Hit and Run charges, a driver will also typically face Careless Driving or Reckless Driving.  Depending upon the evidence, Hit and Run cases in Denver can often result in a driver being charged with 20, 30, or even 40 or more points in total charges. If the Hit and Run accident resulted in serious bodily injury to another person it is a Class 4 Felony, if the accident results in death it is a Class 3 Felony.

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IMG_0644-e1534455480832-768x1024Moffat County, Colorado covers an enormous area of 4,751 square miles in the Northwest corner of the state and is the second largest county in Colorado.  That’s a huge area for law enforcement to patrol!  District 4 of the Colorado State Patrol, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, and the Craig Police Department enforce DUI laws in Moffat County.

In the year 2017 there were 94 DUI and DWAI cases filed in Moffat County, Colorado with an average BAC of .155.  DUI and DWAI cases are heard in Moffat County Court located at 221 West Victory Way in Craig, Colorado.  DUI arraignments are typically held by Judge Gardner on Tuesdays at 8:30AM in Division 2. Court dates and times can be confirmed by contacting the Moffat County Court clerk’s office at 970-824-8254.

If you submitted a breath or blood test in your Moffat County DUI or DWAI case, the law enforcement agency must comply with rules from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, Laboratory Services Division.  A blood test must be collected in the presence of the arresting officer and the specific instructions for the DUI blood kit that must be followed.

The blood must be collected in a public safety facility or appropriate clinic and sterile equipment must be used.  It’s critical that a non-alcohol swab be used when drawing the blood.  Specifically, the swab must be an aqueous solution of nonvolatile antiseptic.  Two tubes are drawn and the tubes must contain Sodium Fluoride and Potassium Oxalate preservative.  Once the tubes are drawn, they must be correctly labeled and sealed in accordance with the directions for the draw and then placed in secured refrigerated storage at less than 8 degrees Centigrade or frozen until shipped.  The tubes must be shipped within 7 days of collection.  The Defendant’s attorney can have the 2nd tube tested at a certified independent lab within a reasonable period of time.  The chain of custody of these vials must also be documented.  It’s critical to review the entire blood testing process in the DUI case.

Similarly, a breath test on the Intoxilyzer 9000 machine must be completed in accordance with the same Colorado Department of Health and Environment, Laboratory Services Division rules (5 CCR 1005-2).  The machine must be certified and the operator must be certified to operate the machine.  According to the rules, the driver must be given a choice of which type of test he/she prefers to take (blood or breath).  A 20-minute deprivation period is required before administering the test on the machine.  During this 20 minute deprivation period, any foreign material must be removed from the driver’s mouth that is not permanent in nature.  No foreign materials should be introduced into the driver’s mouth cavity during the 20 minute period.  The cop must observe the driver continuously to ensure that the driver doesn’t belch, regurgitate, or intake any foreign material into the mouth cavity during the 20 minutes.  A clean mouthpiece before the 1st blow into the machine must be used.  Subsequently, the mouthpiece has to be changed out with a fresh one before the 2nd blow into the machine.  Sometimes the cops forget to change out the mouthpiece between the 1st and 2nd blow in the machine.  Not changing the mouthpiece between breath samples is a violation of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment rules for evidential breath testing.

The driver must be further observed during the 2nd blow into the machine to ensure that there is no belching, regurgitation, or intake of foreign material.  The driver must be removed from the area in close proximity to the breath test machine during the 2 minute period between the breath tests.  The breath machine operator must sign the report reflecting the breath test result and attest that the test was completed in compliance with the rules.  All printouts produced by the machine must be retained and provided to the driver or his lawyer.  Any errors in the testing process could invalidate the result.

DUI and DWAI cases in Moffat County are prosecuted by the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.  This office handles all state criminal matters in Moffat, Routt, and Grand counties.

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motorcycles-race-helmets-pilots-163221-e1525892766279I’m often asked by clients why the police have charged them with certain traffic or criminal charges.  Unfortunately, that’s a difficult question to answer.  However, the thing to keep in mind is that the prosecutor has the burden of proving the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.  The driver who is charged has no burden.  Cops who charge people with reckless driving have determined that the driver’s conduct “fits” the definition of the charge (or at least that’s their opinion anyway).  In other words, the cop has made a determination that he/she has probable cause to charge the driver.

Reckless driving is no doubt a serious charge.  It’s 8 points against a driver’s license, it’s a criminal charge, and it’s a habitual traffic offender charge.  A driver in Colorado may be charged with Reckless Driving under the state statute or a similar municipal code section.  State statute Reckless Driving charges are heard by the county court where the alleged bad driving occurred.  These charges are prosecuted by the district attorney’s office for the corresponding county.   Whereas, municipal code Reckless Driving charges are brought forth by the city or town prosecutor where the alleged violation occurred and are typically prosecuted under the Model Traffic Code- adopted by the particular municipal court.

Reckless driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor criminal traffic offense under the state statute.  The penalty ranges from a minimum of 10 days in jail up to a maximum of 90 days in jail and a fine of $150 up to a maximum of $300.  Both a jail and fine may be imposed.  Additionally, 8-points will be assessed against a driver’s DMV record.  Under the state statute, a district attorney would have to prove that the driver drove a motor vehicle with a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.  Bicycles, electrical assisted bicycles, and low-power scooters also qualify under the reckless driving statute.  Reckless driving is often charged in cases when there is an accident, when a high speed is alleged, where drag racing is alleged, when hit-and-run is alleged, and where aggressive driving is alleged.

The possible penalty for reckless driving is even greater in most municipal courts throughout Colorado.  For example, in Greenwood Village Municipal Court, reckless driving is punishable by a possible penalty of $2650 and up to 180 days in jail.  8-points are also assessed against a driver’s record in municipal court.  In Commerce City Municipal Court, reckless driving carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and a $2650 fine, or both.  The same penalty of 1 year in jail and a $2650 fine applies to reckless driving offenses in Brighton Municipal Court.

The elements for reckless driving under the Model Traffic Code are the same as the elements under the state statute.  Those elements are that the person drove a motor vehicle with a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.  Bicycles, electrical assisted bicycles, and low power scooters also qualify for reckless driving charges under the model traffic code.

Jury trials are available in both county court and municipal court for reckless driving charges.  However, in municipal court the defendant must submit a written jury demand and pay the jury demand fee to the Court within the allotted time period.  Written jury demands must be filed within 21 days after entry of a not guilty plea and must accompany a jury payment of $25.00 pursuant to CRS 13-10-114 and CMCR 223(a).  Some municipal courts require a higher fee for jury trials, thus it’s best to check with the municipal court clerk where the case is being heard to confirm the jury demand fee prior to payment.  No jury demand filing or payment is required in county court.

According to the Yanaga case, 635 P.2d 295 (Colo. App. 1981), “knowing” or “wilful” conduct is sufficient to establish the culpable mental state of “recklessness”.  Although the police sometimes charge both careless and reckless driving, careless driving is a lesser included offense of reckless driving according to the Chapman case, 557 P.2d 1211 (Colo. 1977).  Thus, a driver cannot be found guilty of both careless and reckless driving.

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IMG_0241-e1524851406320-768x1024Grand County, spanning 1870 square miles, is a very popular recreational destination in Colorado.  Whether it’s skiing or snowboarding at Winter Park or Mary Jane, or summer hiking near Cascade Falls or Horseshoe Lake Trail, Grand County seems to have endless outdoor opportunities to get away from it all.  Unfortunately, some people are arrested in Grand County for driving under the influence or driving while ability impaired while partaking in recreational activities.  Because many of those arrested are not residents of the county (or even the state), the court process can quickly become confusing and even overwhelming at times.

Rest assured that if you have been charged with DUI or DWAI in Grand County, you do have options and you do have rights throughout the process.  Experienced DUI defense counsel can help you navigate the system and the DUI process to obtain the best possible result when facing a difficult and stressful situation.

First, second, and third DUI offenses in Grand County are misdemeanors.  Fourth and subsequent offenses are Class 4 Felonies.  Convictions for DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, aggravated driving with a revoked license, and driving under restraint (alcohol-related restraint) are considered to be a “prior” offense under Colorado law.  Colorado factors-in prior convictions anywhere in the US over the course of the person’s life.  There are no time constraints on the “look back period” for priors- it’s lifetime.

The Grand County Judicial Center is located at 307 Moffat Avenue, Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado 80451.  County court misdemeanor DUI and DWAI matters are heard by Judge Catanzarite.

147 DUI and DWAI cases were filed in Grand County Court in 2017, with an average BAC of .155.  If a person has been arrested in Grand County for DUI, she must act immediately within 7 days to protect her driver’s license.  An administrative hearing request must be filed with the Colorado Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles.

Kremmling Police, Colorado State Patrol, Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Granby Police, Fraser/Winter Park Police are active police agencies in the county charging drivers with DUI and DWAI offenses.

Drivers who have been pulled over in Grand County will be asked to perform standard field sobriety tests (SFST).  These tests typically include, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), walk-and-turn, and one leg stand.  Sometimes police will also request other tests such as counting backwards, reciting the alphabet, Romberg balance test, etc.  These tests are not easy for everyone to perform.  Medical problems, fatigue, complex explanations of how to perform the tests, stress, being nervous, poor coordination, and other innocent reasons can cause a person to perform poorly on the roadside tests.  The “graded performance” of a person’s roadside tests is based upon the officer’s subjective opinion and can be challenged in the DUI case.

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