Colorado DUI License Suspension

Anyone arrested for DUI in Colorado potentially faces some serious criminal penalties, including jail time and steep fines. However, one of the biggest impacts that come from a DUI arrest has nothing to do with the criminal case. I’m referring to your ability to drive. Without a valid driver’s license, many of us would be unable to get to work, to school, or be able to meet our responsibilities. For people who drive a motor vehicle for a living, the impact of losing driving privileges is even greater. For them, a license suspension could mean a loss of employment and financial catastrophe.

Under Colorado law, a DUI arrest will result in an administrative law suspension that could last months or, depending on your circumstances, even years.

Administrative License Suspension

A DUI arrest in Colorado initiates two separate processes – one criminal and the other civil.  The criminal case will move through the court system that has jurisdiction over your case. The civil process is overseen by the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV. This administrative process is completely separate from the criminal charges and revolves around the revocation of your driver’s license.

A driver’s license in Colorado comes with an “express consent” that you will provide either a breath or blood sample if you are arrested for DUI. Therefore, when you were arrested, you either did provide a breath or blood sample or you refused chemical testing.

If you provided a breath test, or if you refused chemical testing, it is likely the officer who arrested you gave you a Notice of Express Consent Affidavit and a Notice of Revocation. This document will let you know that you have seven days from the date of your arrest to go to a Colorado DMV office to request a hearing. If you do not do so, your driver’s license will be revoked on the eighth day after your arrest.

If you provided a blood sample, the process is somewhat different. The State will have your blood tested for alcohol content. If that content is above the legal limit, the officer who arrested you will be notified of the results. He or she will then file the Notice of Express Consent Affidavit with the DMV. Upon receipt of the Affidavit, the DMV will send a letter notifying you of the results of the blood test and informing you that you have ten days from the date on the letter to request a hearing. If you do not request a hearing, your driver’s license will be revoked on the 11th day after the date on the DMV’s letter.

The request for an express consent hearing must be made in writing on the form provided by the DMV. Because of this, it is best to go to the main DMV office in your city or county, bringing your Notice of Express Consent Affidavit or DMV letter with you, and fill out the form while you are there. On the form, you can request to have the officer who arrested you present at the hearing. There are advantages and disadvantages to having the arresting officer present. It is best to discuss this matter with your attorney to see which choice is best for you, given the circumstances of your case.

There are two reasons why it makes sense to pursue an administrative hearing with the DMV in regards to your license revocation. First, it affords you an opportunity to avoid revocation altogether, allowing you to keep your driver’s license. Second, it allows your attorney an opportunity to size up the State’s case against you. An advance look at the evidence the State plans on using against you at trial can be invaluable in planning the best defense to the charges pending against you.

The DMV hearing has to be held within 60 days of your request. You will be able to continue to drive during this time.

The Express Consent Hearing

The express consent hearing is overseen by an administrative hearing officer employed by the DMV. The hearing officer will look at the evidence and determine if that evidence establishes the following items by a preponderance:

  • Were you in control of a motor vehicle?
  • Did the police officer who arrested you have a lawful reason to initially pull you over?
  • Did the police officer have probable cause to require you to submit to chemical testing?
  • Did the results of that testing show that your blood alcohol concentration was .08 or greater?
  • Did you refuse chemical testing?

If the answer to all of these questions is yes and you submitted to chemical testing, your driver’s license will be suspended as follows:

  • 1st offense with BAC .08 or greater – 9 months;
  • 2nd offense with BAC .08 or greater – 12 months;
  • 3rd offense with BAC .08 or greater – 24 months.

If you refused chemical testing, your driver’s license will be suspended as follows:

  • 1st offense – 12 months;
  • 2nd offense – 24 months;
  • 3rd offense – 36 months.

In addition, refusing chemical testing will result in a Persistent Drunk Driver designation.

Early License Reinstatement

If your driver’s license was revoked after a DUI arrest, you can, under certain conditions, apply to the DMV for an early reinstatement of your license.

If this was your first DUI offense you can apply for early reinstatement

  • after one month of license revocation has passed. You do so by:
  • Completing an Application for Reinstatement;
  • Paying a $95.00 reinstatement fee;
  • Completing a DMV Alcohol Certification;
  • Having an ignition interlock device, or IID, installed on every vehicle you own or use;
  • Including a notarized Restricted License Ignition Interlock Agreement Affidavit; and
  • Providing the DMV with signed copies of an interlock lease agreement and installation certificate for each IID that has been installed on vehicles you own or use.

If the DMV approves your early reinstatement, you will be able to drive the vehicle(s) equipped with the IID. Your license will remain IID-restricted for the remainder of your revocation period. The DMV will also monitor the IID on a monthly basis, looking for alcohol use or tampering.

As a first time DUI offender, you can apply for the removal of IID restricted license status if the DMV monitoring shows that for four consecutive months:

  • There were no engine interrupts for alcohol detection; and
  • The device did not detect any attempt at tampering.

If this was your first offense and you refused chemical testing, the requirements for early reinstatement are the same as above, except:

  • You must wait until two months of your license revocation have passed;
  • Instead of supplying an Alcohol Certification, you must supply proof that you’ve enrolled in or completed a Level II Alcohol or Drug Education and Treatment class; and
  • Because of the Persistent Drunk Driver designation, your license will be IID restricted for two years following reinstatement.

If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Colorado, it is important to first discuss your situation with an experienced Colorado DUI attorney. Take the time to contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your options.