Whenever a person is accused of DUI or DWAI, essentially two cases are simultaneously triggered against that driver – an administrative case and a criminal case. The Express Consent Law affects both cases but in different ways. In this post we will address the administrative case. In the next blog post we will address the criminal case.
The administrative case against a driver suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is conducted by the Colorado Department of Revenue. The whole objective of this case is to determine whether or not the state will revoke a person’s driving privilege and if so, for how long. A driver is entitled to have an attorney on his or her behalf and, with almost all legal matters, it is in a driver’s best interest to have one represent him or her in this matter as a driver has certain rights in this case and some of these can be lost within 7 days of being charged if not act upon. In this administration case the state, through the Department of Revenue, determines by a preponderance of the evidence that a driver was driving while impaired by alcohol. If so, the DMV will revoke that driver’s license for a certain amount of time. It is the Department of Revenue that will revoke a person’s driving privileges for refusing a chemical test under the Express Consent law. Note that they do not have to determine beyond a reasonable doubt, like in a criminal case, that a person was driving while impaired by alcohol. The Department of Revenue only has to determine by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she did. That is all that it takes to revoke a driver’s driving privileges. It is very beneficial to the Department of Revenue to have a chemical test in determining whether or not a driver was impaired. Without the chemical test, there must be enough other evidence to determine the likelihood that a driver was driving impaired. Also note that once a driver’s license is revoked it is can be expensive and complicated to get a license reinstated especially if an interlock device is required at the time of reinstatement (read more here). If a driver consents to a chemical test and his or her BAC is 0.08 or greater, he or she will lose his or her license. The amount of time that a driver’s license is revoked depends largely on whether there have been prior convictions of DUI or DWAI among other factors. Currently, a driver’s license is revoked for one (1) year if he or she has at least one prior DUI or DWAI conviction. After January 1, 2014, a driver found to be driving while impaired by alcohol that has 2 or more prior DUI or DWAI convictions will be eligible for an Interlock device after one month of having a revoked license.