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DUI Denver Blog
Colorado Diversion Program
Every parent’s nightmare is the call late at night from their teen saying they have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). It certainly is no one’s intent that such events occur, but many acknowledge that experimentation with alcohol and drugs is a common rite of passage for teenagers.
Over the past several years, Colorado has changed its drunk driving laws for DUI (driving under the influence) and DWAI (driving while ability impaired) in an effort towards cutting down on drunk driving that has spread across the country.
Before the passage of Amendment 64 by Colorado’s voters in 2012, legal challenges to medical marijuana dispensaries provided a glimpse of what the state now faces in attempting to fairly regulate recreational cannabis use.
Nowhere in the laws resulting from Amendment 64, Colorado’s 2012 voter referendum that allows possession and use of up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes, does it say “for Colorado residents only.”
Colorado’s laws regarding marijuana possession have certainly been liberalized relative to the rest of the nation. But it is still quite easy to be in violation of the law to possess, grow, distribute or use pot under some circumstances.
The passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado made clear that voters wanted to see cannabis made legal and that marijuana use should not be criminal in the state. But the particulars of the new laws around marijuana have left many scratching their heads – including provisions that allow marijuana users to grow their own plants.
Beginning in 2010, a full three years before Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 – the pot legalization bill – problems with marijuana in households with children began to surface.
Colorado DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) defense lawyers are beginning to encounter cases related to the state’s recently liberalized marijuana laws. What is clear is that pot possession of one ounce or less by persons age 21 or older is now perfectly legal.
There is one piece of good news for parents of a minor charged with illegal consumption or possession of alcohol. Parents are not held liable for their child’s actions (unless, of course, the parent instigated the illegal activity, such as taking your kid to the local bar for a drink — a bad idea if ever there was one.) However, if your child does not have the means to pay the $250 to $500 fine for a minor-in-possession (MIP) conviction, or the cost of a court-ordered alcohol education program, you may find yourself reaching into your own pockets.
Most Colorado residents have heard of the habitual offender law the state enacted in 1994. Simply put, the law mandates that anyone convicted of three felony offenses is subject to a mandatory prison sentence of four times the normal statutory penalty for the third offense. Thus, the law is often called the three-strike law borrowing from the classic baseball cry of three strikes and you’re out.
If you are arrested, one of the first things you hear from the arresting officer is that you have the right to be represented by an attorney and to have that attorney present when you are questioned. If you cannot afford a lawyer, they say, the state will pay for you to have one.
The image is familiar from the climactic scenes of Hollywood Westerns: Posses of justice-seeking townsfolk galloping across the wilderness, bearing down from all directions on a gang of outlaws on the run. In the chaos that ensues, the bad guys meet their destiny and the vigilantes ride away in victory. Roll credits.
Certainly, every parent is aware that underage drinking is illegal, but the Colorado laws concerning minors and alcohol are much more complicated than that. In fact, a minor does not even have to drink alcohol to be charged as a Minor in Possession (MIP). Even being in the vicinity of alcohol could be enough to get your child in serious trouble.
The criminal justice system is a mystery to most average people. Their only exposure comes from entertainment from books, television and movies, or from the media. But television and movies depict the criminal justice system in shorthand — abbreviated and dramatized to appeal to a large audience. The news media offers limited, highlights-only coverage — except in extreme cases, such as the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
If you’ve been through a trial and lost your case, you may have grounds for an appeal — or you may not. An appeal is not a chance for a do-over because you didn’t like the first result. It’s a request to have an appeals court review your case to make sure your trial was conducted fairly and the court properly considered every factor it should have in the course of the decision. Specific grounds must be called out for the appeal and their impact on your trial must be persuasively stated. It is by no means a fishing expedition.
Probation essentially allows for someone to be released from jail/prison into the community under the supervision of a probation officer. Probation differs from parole because it is actually a punishment system — an alternative to being incarcerated. Parole is for prisoners being released into the community.
The legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado doesn’t mean it’s okay to smoke marijuana in every circumstance. There are still laws around where and when it can be used, and by whom. State legislators are still figuring out exactly how the new laws will work. In addition, marijuana possession, distribution and use are still illegal under federal law. No one is sure how the conflict between state and federal laws will be worked out.
An arrest for driving under the influence is serious. It can mean jail time, loss of your license, hefty fines and long stretches of community service. If this is your first arrest, you might be tempted to fold your cards, plead guilty and accept the consequences. This might be more tempting if you’ve taken and failed a Breathalyzer test.
Colorado made history when voters opted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Following on the heels of a 2000 vote legalizing use of marijuana for medical purposes, Colorado now has some of the most lenient marijuana laws in the United States.