For more than two decades, Fife Luneau, PC has represented adults and juveniles charged with DUI and other serious criminal offenses in Colorado. Here we provide answers to some frequently asked questions about retaining defense representation and facing criminal charges in state and federal court.
To learn more about our services and the integral role defense counsel plays in criminal proceedings, please consult the questions below. For more information about how we can help you in your specific case, please contact Fife Luneau, PC for a free initial consultation with an experienced Denver DUI and criminal defense attorney. We are dedicated to fighting for our clients' rights and liberties. Do not plead guilty until you talk to us.
- What should I look for in defense counsel?
- How do I pay for your services?
- What are my rights as an accused?
- Should I enter into a plea bargain?
- This is my first arrest, and I just want to put it behind me; why not accept the consequences and move on?
- What's the difference between a DUI and a DWAI?
- How can I keep my driver's license if I've been arrested for DUI?
What should I look for in defense counsel?
Your attorney should instill trust and confidence in you. You should feel comfortable talking with your attorney about the details of your arrest, knowing that your interests and freedom are your attorney's highest priority. At Fife Luneau, PC, we work hard to earn our clients' trust and have a true passion for criminal defense. Willingness to fight for our clients' rights is a hallmark of our practice.
Also, the attorney you choose should have significant criminal defense experience, as well as specific experience handling your type of case. For example, if you have been charged with DUI, seek out an attorney with a proven track record for handling DUI/DWAI cases. Our firm has handled more than 2,500 DUI cases.
How do I pay for your services?
We work on a flat fee, which means we determine upfront the cost of handling a client's case. Fees vary according to many factors, such as the number and severity of charges, the complexity of the facts, and whether the case is likely to go to trial. After we discuss all of these issues and a fee is agreed upon, the client pays the fee (we accept all major credit cards) and we place the funds into a bank account held in trust for the client. Then we start working on our client's defense, and all money concerns are behind us. As a client, a flat fee means you know what to expect, payment-wise, and you do not have to worry about future fees down the road.
What are my rights as an accused?
Every person accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty, which means the burden is on the prosecutor and the state to prove your guilt. Accordingly, you never have to prove your innocence--you are not required to testify or call witnesses at a trial. If you are charged with a criminal offense, you have the right to:
- A public trial by judge or jury
- An attorney and the right to a court-appointed attorney if you cannot afford one
- Remain silent
- Cross examine your accusers
- Testify (but only if you want to)
- To compel witnesses to testify on your behalf
- Appeal a conviction to a higher court
Should I enter into a plea bargain?
Do not enter into a plea bargain until you discuss your case with an attorney. A plea bargain is an admission of guilt to all charges. While you may avoid a costly and lengthy trial by agreeing to a plea bargain, the long term consequences of a criminal conviction on your record can be much worse than fighting the charges in court. Moreover, a plea bargain does not always guarantee a lighter penalty.
In many cases, people have viable defenses to the charges brought against them, which means trial can result in a better outcome than a plea bargain. We are trial lawyers, and know how to obtain excellent results for our clients by fighting charges in court.
This is my first arrest, and I just want to put it behind me; why not accept the consequences and move on?
Going through an arrest and encountering the criminal justice system for the first time leaves most people scared, intimidated, and embarrassed. Of course you want to put the situation behind you and move on with your life. In many cases, however, simply accepting a conviction can cause you to revisit the incident long after you have completed your punishment. A criminal record can prevent you from obtaining a professional license, joining the military, or enjoying certain rights as a citizen.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can often achieve excellent results for first-time offenders. For example, through proactive and aggressive representation, the attorneys at Fife Luneau, PC have helped many clients reduce criminal charges to infractions, thus avoiding a criminal record, and we have obtained outright dismissals in many cases.
What's the difference between DUI and DWAI?
A person may be charged with DUI or DWAI depending on the results of a blood or breath test at the time of arrest. DUI (driving under the influence) is generally a criminal misdemeanor charged when a person's blood alcohol level is at least 0.08. On the other hand, DWAI (driving while ability impaired) is usually a traffic infraction issued to people with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.05 but less than 0.08.
A first DUI is punishable by five days to one year in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, and 48 hours to 96 hours of public service. The criminal penalties for a first DWAI are less severe but still serious, including two to 180 days in jail, at least $200 in fines, and 24 hours to 480 hours of public service. Our attorneys understand how to fight DUI and DWAI charges even when breath and blood tests place clients over the legal limit or within the DWAI window, and have successfully challenged the accuracy of breathalyzer tests in many cases.
How can I keep my driver's license if I've been arrested for DUI?
If you are charged with DUI based on a blood alcohol content (BAC) test of 0.08 or higher, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will start a suspension process against your license. Nine months is the shortest length of the potential suspension period, and it may increase to up to five years depending on any prior DUI convictions.
You may challenge a suspension, however, if you request a DMV hearing within seven days of receiving a notice of suspension. At the time you request the hearing, you will be given a temporary permit that allows you to drive until the date of the hearing. We represent clients in DMV hearings as well as criminal proceedings, and have helped clients obtain a probationary license or interlock license in lieu of an absolute suspension of all driving privileges.