Colorado is renowned for its picturesque landscapes and attracts a significant number of tourists each year. Whether you're a visitor or a tourist, it's important to understand that Colorado's traffic laws apply to everyone, including out-of-state residents. This means that if you are caught driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in Colorado, you will face legal consequences, just like a Colorado resident.
Penalties for DUI in Colorado
When an out-of-state driver is detained in Colorado for DUI, they typically face the same penalties as a Colorado resident. If convicted, these penalties may include:
- License revocation
- Community service
- Fines and fees
- Online classes
- Possible jail time (though imprisonment is uncommon for a first-time offense)
It's important to note that the severity of the penalties may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the DUI offense. However, for a first-time violation, jail time is unlikely.
Representation by a Local Attorney
If you are an out-of-state resident facing DUI charges in Colorado, you have the option to hire a local defense attorney to represent you in court. This can be particularly beneficial as it allows you to avoid the need to return to Colorado for court hearings. Your attorney will handle various aspects of your case, including:
DUI Court Hearing: In most cases, it is not compulsory for out-of-state defendants to return to Colorado for their DUI court hearing. As long as you hire a Colorado criminal defense lawyer to represent you, you can continue your daily life in your home state without interruption. However, if your case advances to trial, it may be necessary to appear in person.
Specialized Defense Attorney: While it is not mandatory to hire a Colorado DUI attorney, it is highly recommended. An experienced defense attorney familiar with Colorado's courts and district attorneys can effectively navigate your case, negotiate with the prosecuting attorney, and contest the charges on your behalf. Representing yourself may require frequent travel to Colorado for court dates and may limit your ability to achieve the best possible outcome.
Driver's License Suspension: The suspension of your driver's license will primarily be governed by the state that issued your license. In general, other states' Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) will impose similar license suspensions as the Colorado DMV. However, each state may have its own specific rules and regulations regarding license suspensions for out-of-state DUI offenses. It is crucial to consult with a local attorney to contest the suspension and protect your driving privileges.
Interstate Compact: Colorado is one of the 45 states that adhere to the Interstate Driver's License Compact (IDLC). If you, as a non-Colorado resident, receive a DUI in Colorado, the Colorado DMV will place a hold on your license in the National Driver's Register (NDR) and report the offense to your home state DMV. However, not all states participate in the IDLC, and their suspension rules may differ. It is essential to consult with an attorney to understand the implications for your specific situation.
Reinstating Out-of-State Driver's Licenses
If your driver's license is suspended by the Colorado DMV due to a DUI offense, you will need to complete the suspension period and meet specific requirements to reinstate your license. The requirements may vary depending on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level and other factors. Generally, the reinstatement process involves:
Application for Reinstatement: You will need to submit an Application for Reinstatement (DR 2870) to the Colorado DMV.
Alcohol Certification and Residency Statement: Depending on the circumstances of your DUI offense, you may need to provide an Alcohol Certification form (DR 2598) and an Out-of-State Residency Sworn statement to fulfill Colorado's requirements.
Education and Therapy Classes: Completion of Level II Alcohol Education and Therapy classes may be necessary, depending on the specifics of your DUI offense.
It is important to consult with a state-certified provider in your home state to obtain a personalized evaluation and complete the required application for reinstatement. Once you have provided the necessary documentation and paid the associated fees, you can expect to receive a Letter of Clearance from the Colorado DMV. This letter will allow you to apply for a driver's license in your home state.
Completing DUI Classes and Community Service
Out-of-state offenders are typically allowed to complete DUI classes and community service in their home state. Courts often permit online classes and community service programs as long as they meet the specific requirements set by the court. It is crucial to confirm with the court in advance to ensure that the chosen online course and community service program are acceptable.
Failure to Appear in Court and Probation
If you ignore a DUI court date, a bench warrant for your arrest may be issued. For misdemeanor-level DUI cases, Colorado law enforcement may not actively pursue out-of-state defendants. However, for felony-level DUI cases, Colorado police may make efforts to locate and extradite the offender.
If you are on probation in your home state and are arrested for DUI in Colorado, it is essential to contact a local defense attorney immediately. The court in your home state may revoke your probation and impose additional penalties based on the terms of your probation.
Understanding Colorado's DUI laws as an out-of-state resident is crucial to avoid legal complications and protect your driving privileges. Hiring a local defense attorney can provide valuable guidance and representation throughout the legal process. Remember to consult with an attorney to ensure compliance with the specific requirements for reinstating your driver's license and completing any necessary classes or community service. By taking the appropriate steps, you can navigate the legal system effectively and work towards a favorable resolution.