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Boulder DUI Defense Attorney

Lots of people, including some lawyers, think that DUIs and DWAIs are a simple, basic type of case that anybody can handle. The reality could not be further from that misconception. DUIs are highly complex, specialized cases that can only be handled competently by our Boulder DUI defense lawyers with experience and expertise in this highly specific area of law.

At Dolan + Zimmerman LLP, our Boulder DUI defense attorneys look for creative solutions to complex charges of underage driving under the influence, driving while ability impaired, vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, and felony driving under the influence. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

Why Choose A Boulder DUI Defense Attorney From Us?

  • Our dedicated criminal defense lawyers customize our approach to each case to develop a strategy that will be effective for you.
  • We truly care for our clients and are selective in our cases to ensure we give each case the attention it deserves.
  • Our Boulder DUI defense attorneys are always accessible and treat clients like family.

What Is a DUI in Boulder, CO?

Boulder DUI lawyer

“Driving under the influence” means driving a motor vehicle or vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, that affects the person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.

A person who drives a motor vehicle or vehicle when the person’s BAC is 0.08 or more at the time of driving or within two hours after driving commits DUI per se.

What is DWAI in Boulder, CO?

Driving while ability impaired” means driving a motor vehicle or vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, that affects the person to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.

The Consequences of a DUI OR DWAI Driving Conviction In Boulder?

Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) charges can cause major problems for your employment, reputation and driving privilege. A DUI is not “just a traffic ticket,” it is a serious charge that carries far-reaching court-related and administrative consequences.

Every time that a person gets a ticket for DUI or for DWAI, they will face consequences in two separate areas. They will be required to go to court, where consequences can range from probation, to house arrest, to jail or prison, depending on the facts of the particular case. The court case is separate from but will interact with proceedings through the Department of Revenue.

Sometimes, people assume that it’s best to deal with a DUI or DWAI charge by just pleading guilty and moving on, in the same way that you would handle a speeding ticket. That is not the case at all. The expertise and advice of an attorney with training and experience in both the courtroom and driver’s license sides of DUI representation can make all the difference when it comes to protecting your driving privilege and navigating the court process in a fully informed, empowered way.

Why Do I Need a Boulder DUI Defense Attorney?

When you are facing DUI or DWAI charges, a Boulder criminal defense attorney can guide you through complicated court and administrative proceedings but are also invaluable when it comes to their:

  • Experience: An attorney will know how to examine the evidence against you and take necessary action to build a strong defense. Without a lawyer’s help, a detail, key piece of evidence, or a portion of the law that may help you get a plea deal, reduce your sentence, or have the charges dropped can easily be missed.
  • Knowledge of DUI laws: The laws involving DUI-related offenses can be confusing. Several factors can impact charges, the legal process, and the defenses available to you. A defense lawyer with specific knowledge of Boulder DUI laws can answer your questions.
  • Negotiation Skills: An effective Boulder DUI attorney can determine the strengths and weaknesses of your case and help you minimize your sentence. Plea bargains are common in DUI cases. A good plea bargain can result in lower fines and less jail time.

Whether your DUI charge is a misdemeanor or a felony, it is critical to seek the service of an attorney with criminal defense knowledge, experience, resources, and negotiation skills.

How a Boulder DUI Defense Lawyer Can Help You

If you wish to avoid the worst potential penalties associated with a DUI and minimize its effects on your life, a DUI defense lawyer in Boulder, CO can help you achieve these goals. A lawyer can create a proactive defense strategy to protect you from your charges. Your lawyer will also have connections to judges and prosecutors within the criminal justice system in your city to use to your advantage.

For example, your lawyer can attend hearings on your behalf and communicate with the prosecutor to work out a successful plea deal. This could greatly reduce the effects of the DUI on your life by minimizing the penalties. We do not give a blanket recommendation to all of his clients to take plea deals, however. He carefully analyzes each case to design unique legal strategies.

With help from a lawyer, it may be possible to have your charges dismissed or achieve case acquittal. If not, you can still count on your attorney to achieve the best possible case results on your behalf, such as by reducing the charges brought against you or negotiating a lighter sentence. When your future is hanging in the balance, a lawyer can work every aspect of your case to achieve an optimal outcome.

We Have Defended Hundreds of DUI and DWAI Cases

Our Boulder criminal defense attorneys have represented clients at jury trials in many of these cases, and have successfully negotiated unusually favorable plea bargains or dismissals in many others. We have successfully represented many clients in the Department of Revenue administrative driver’s license proceedings. We have also represented clients in appellate proceedings up to and including the proceedings at the Colorado Supreme Court. Because we have represented an enormous number of clients in DUI and DWAI cases, we recognize the importance of taking an individualized approach. We draw from our extensive experience to ensure that you get the best outcome in your particular case.

We handle all types of DUI and DWAI cases, including those involving:

DUI and DWAI are criminal charges. They carry consequences that can affect your freedom, your finances and your ability to drive. You need to be proactive from the time you are charged. The most important thing that you can do to protect yourself is to retain an attorney who can help you starting at the very beginning of your case.

What are the Colorado DUI Laws?

Colorado penalizes driving under the influence crimes according to the type of DUI and how many previous DUI convictions are on the individual’s record. If driving under the influence results in the driver causing a car accident with injuries or deaths, this will increase the related sentence.

Even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is under the legal limit, it is a crime to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs in Colorado. Those who drive with a BAC at or above the legal limit of 0.08% can be charged with a DUI or DUI per se. People commit DUI per se by driving with a BAC higher than the legal limit but are operating the vehicle safely and are not impaired. Those that drive with a BAC between 0.05% and 0.079% can be charged with the lesser offense of DWAI.

Here is a breakdown of the three main types of DUIs in Colorado:

  • DUI. An ordinary DUI means that a driver was found to be operating a vehicle under the impairing influence of one or more intoxicants. It can refer to DUI per se (a driver with a BAC at or above 0.08) or DUI with a lesser BAC. Penalties: misdemeanor, 5 days to 1 year in jail, $600 to $1,000 fine, 48 to 96 hours of community service, 9 months driver’s license suspension and 12 points added to the driver’s license.
  • Underage DUI. An underage DUI means that the driver is under the legal drinking age of 21 in Colorado. Colorado is a Zero Tolerance state, meaning that if a driver under the age of 21 is caught with a BAC of almost any measurable amount, it can lead to a DUI. Penalties (with a BAC of 0.02 to 0.05 percent): Class A traffic infraction, $15 to $100 fine, up to 24 hours of community service, 3 months driver’s license suspension and 4 points added to the driver’s license.
  • DWAI. DWAI means driving while ability impaired, or driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to even the slightest degree. DWAI comes with slightly lesser penalties than a DUI. The Department of Revenue typically will not order driver’s license suspension, for example. Penalties: misdemeanor, 10 days to 1 year in jail, $600 to $1,500 fine, 48 to 120 hours of community service and 8 points added to the driver’s license.

Note that these penalties will be increased for a second or subsequent DUI conviction. An offender who gets multiple DUIs on his or her record within five years can face up to six years in jail or prison and a fine of up to $1,500. If this is not your first DUI arrest, it is even more important to hire a criminal defense attorney to defend against these serious penalties.

Below are detailed tables explaining the charges, fines and sentences for DUI in Colorado:

Misdemeanor DUI Charge Colorado Penalties
First DUI or DUI per se
  • Jail time: 5 days to 1 year
  • $600 to $1,000 in fines
  • 48 to 96 hours of public service
  • 9-month license suspension
  • 12 DMV points
  • Alcohol education classes (in some cases)
  • Up to 2 years probation
Second DUI or DUI per se
  • Jail time: 10 days to 1 year
  • $600 to $1,500 in fines
  • 48 to 120 hours of public service
  • 1-year license revocation
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) for 2 years
  • 12 DMV points
  • Alcohol education classes
  • At least 2 years probation
Third DUI or DUI per se
  • Jail time: 60 consecutive days to 1 year
  • $600 to $1,500 in fines
  • 48 to 120 hours of public service
  • 2-year license suspension
  • Ignition interlock device for 2 years
  • 12 DMV points;
  • Alcohol education classes
  • At least 2 years probation
First DWAI
  • Jail time: 2 to 180 days
  • $200 to $500 in fines
  • 24 to 48 hours of public service
  • 8 DMV points
  • Up to 2 years probation
Second DWAI
  • Jail time: 10 days to 1 year
  • $600 to $1,500 in fines
  • 48 to 120 hours of public service
  • 1 year license suspension
  • 8 DMV points
  • At least 2 years probation
Third DWAI
  • Jail time: 60 consecutive days to 1 year
  • $600 to $1,500 in fines
  • 48 to 120 hours of public service
  • 2 year license suspension
  • 8 DMV points
  • At least 2 years probation


Driving under the influence is considered a felony in Colorado if a person already has three or more past DUI-related offenses, or causes a DUI-related accident resulting in serious bodily harm. Depending on the charge, a felony DUI can lead to the following penalties:

Felony DUI Charge Colorado Penalties
Fourth DUI or DWAI
(Class 4 Felony)
  • 2 to 6 years Colorado State Prison with 3-year parole
  • $2,000 – $500,000
  • 2-year license revocation
Vehicular Assault
a.k.a. DUI causing serious bodily injury
(Class 4 Felony 18-3-205 C.R.S.)
  • 2 to 6 years prison with 3-year parole;
  • $2,000 – $500,000
  • 1-year minimum license revocation
Vehicular Homicide
a.k.a. DUI causing death
(Class 3 Felony 18-3-106 C.R.S.)
  • 4 to 12 years prison with 5-year parole
  • $3,000 to $750,000
  • 1-year minimum license revocation


Being arrested and charged with a DUI or DWAI can be frightening, especially if you are familiar with the state’s penalties for these offenses. Regardless of the type of charge, no case is insurmountable. An experienced Boulder DUI defense lawyer will develop a strategy to challenge the reliability of the police and the tests given and guide you to the best outcome.

What To Do After a DUI Arrest in Boulder

Being pulled over for a DUI can be disorienting, but there are essential steps to take to protect yourself and the outcome of any charges you may face.

  • It is important to comply with a police officer’s instructions if you are pulled over on suspicion of a DUI. Colorado’s express consent law requires you to submit to a Breathalyzer or blood test if an officer establishes probable cause for a DUI. Refusing to consent to a chemical test can have significant consequences, even if you are not impaired. These tests are not the same as the preliminary breath test (PBT), which suspected drunk drivers are asked to take at the scene with a handheld device. Colorado drivers are not legally required to take a PBT and can politely refuse then agree to take the chemical test.
  • Contact a Boulder DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. It would be in your best interests to hire an attorney who understands DUI litigation in Colorado to help defend your side of the story.
  • Prepare for your arraignment. Your  Boulder DUI defense lawyer will advise you on how to plead at your hearing, as well as what to say and how to present yourself. If necessary, they will contest and fight your charges at trial.

Definition of Being in Control of a Motor Vehicle

Both driving under the influence and driving while ability impaired involves operating a motor vehicle or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while impaired by or under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination of both. 

In Colorado, simply sitting in the driver’s seat with keys located inside the vehicle is sufficient to be charged with DUI/DWAI in some circumstances, even if in your mind you had no intent to drive. 

Whether you’re in actual physical control of a motor vehicle will be determined by looking at the totality of the circumstances. Some factors that are considered include the following:

  • Where was the vehicle located?
  • Were the keys in the ignition?
  • Was the car on?
  • Were the windows up or down?
  • Was the heat or air conditioning on?
  • Were you in the driver’s seat or the passenger seat?
  • Were you in the back seat?
  • Was there alcohol or drugs in the vehicle? 
  • Is there evidence of intent to drive the vehicle?

Even if you don’t plan to drive, you should never “sleep it off” in your vehicle because you run the risk of serious legal charges.

Potential Defenses to DUI Charges

The strength of your defense strategy could be all that stands between you and a life-changing criminal conviction. Entrusting your defense to a knowledgeable and highly experienced lawyer in Denver can give you the best odds of success. Your lawyer will customize a defense based on your specific case. Potential defense options may include:

  • You were not intoxicated.
  • You were not in actual physical control of a vehicle.
  • Involuntary intoxication.
  • BAC test malfunction/inaccurate results.
  • Unreliable field sobriety test results.
  • Insufficient evidence.
  • Lack of probable cause to conduct the traffic stop.
  • Illegal search and seizure.
  • Police misconduct or civil rights violations.
  • Coercion, duress or entrapment.

In addition to crafting a defense strategy based on the charges against you, your lawyer can also use your criminal record to negotiate for a lighter sentence if dismissal isn’t possible. Your defense lawyer will use every outlet available to protect you from DUI charges and a criminal sentence that will impact your future.

Contact a Boulder DUI Defense Attorney

Being arrested for a DUI is be a frightening experience that can change the course of your future.  However, with the right law firm on your side, you can rest assured that your lawyer will fight for the best available case outcome using sound legal strategies and advanced resources. Your lawyer will fight the charges entered against you and help you navigate the consequences if you are convicted of a DUI.In a consultation, we can help you better understand your options and their possible outcomes. To talk to one of our Boulder DUI defense lawyers at Dolan + Zimmerman LLP, please call us at 303-593-1874 or submit an online contact form.