Home DUI and Traffic Defense

Breckenridge DUI and Traffic Defense Attorneys

Thorough and Skilled DUI Defense in Breckenridge

Summit County is one of the most visited regions in Colorado, with travelers coming from all over the state and country to enjoy our slopes in winter and roaring rivers in summer. This constant flow of traffic often leads to serious accidents and DUI arrests that end with tourists behind bars. Local police are often on the lookout for criminal activity and arrest drivers nearly every day on charges of driving under the influence and traffic offenses. Whether you are facing a DUI arrest or charges for other traffic crimes in Summit County, you need a strong defense to avoid the full consequences of a conviction.

At Whitaker & Penix, LLC, our Breckenridge DUI defense lawyers have seen firsthand how harshly Summit County’s courts can come down upon defendants, but we also know how to fight back. As trial attorneys and former prosecutors, we understand the intricate laws surrounding DUIs and other traffic crimes. We can use our expertise to advocate for your best interests, whether in an administrative hearing, criminal trial, or traffic court.

To begin preparing your defense today, call us at (970) 368-0602 for a free phone consultation.

Ive recently had to reach out to the law office Whitaker & Penix , LLC, for a DUI I received back in December and had the pleasure of being represented my Mr. Ehren Penix. I'm beyond happy with his services and highly recommend you reaching to him for anything you may need representation for.
- Adam F., Google Review

Colorado’s DUI Laws

Despite our state’s liberal facade, Colorado courts often impose harsh penalties upon anyone charged with driving under the influence – whether a driver was intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Our state utilizes two laws to prosecute drivers for intoxicated driving: driving while impaired by alcohol or (DWAI) and driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).

DWAI’s apply when a driver operates a vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.05% and less than 0.08%. If a driver’s BAC is at 0.08% or higher, then the charge is elevated to a DUI. In addition, if a driver has a BAC of 0.15%, then he or she can be declared a persistent drunk driver and face harsher penalties.

With regards to marijuana, a driver can be charged with driving under the influences of drugs (DUID) if their blood contains 5 nanograms or more of delta¬–9 THC while operating a vehicle. Officers can also test drivers for other drugs, including street drugs like ecstasy and prescription medication, which can also lead to a DUID.

There are specific procedures for arresting a driver for a DUI, however. Police officers must have a reasonable suspicion that a driver is intoxicated before they can pull a driver over. This can include observing a driver swerving between lanes, running a red light, speeding, or making sudden stops. If an officer pulls a driver over without a reasonable suspicion, then the arrest may be considered illegal. Breckenridge officers must also perform field sobriety tests and use breathalyzers according to specific procedures, otherwise a driver may register a false positive.

Understanding the intricacies of Colorado’s DUI laws and police procedures is key to launching a strong defense. At Whitaker & Penix, LLC, our lead attorneys have seen how prosecutors charge these cases and can use our in-depth knowledge to build a defense on your behalf.

Consequences of a DUI Conviction

DUIs are handled by two departments: the Colorado DMV and the Summit County criminal courts.

DMV Hearings

For the DMV, the focus is primarily on imposing administrative punishments on defendants, which includes suspending or revoking a driver’s license, requiring drivers to take DUI classes, and the installation of ignition interlock devices. After a DUI arrest, a defendant will have seven or eleven days to request a DMV hearing, depending on the type of test the officer administered. Once you have requested a hearing, the DMV has up to 60 days to schedule one. A DMV hearing is your opportunity to defend your driving privileges, and you should have an attorney at your side to ensure your rights are protected.

If you fail to request a hearing within the time limit or you are found guilty of a DUI, the DMV can suspend your driving license for:

  • First Offense: Nine months
  • Second Offense: 12 months
  • Third Offense: 24 months

With a DWAI, a first offense will not lead to a license suspension, but it will lead to at least eight points on a license. In addition, if you are charged with another DWAI or DUI, it will elevate your charges to a second DUI offense. You may be able to have your license reinstated early by completing DUI school or installing an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.

Criminal Penalties

Alongside the potential administrative charges, you will also face penalties from a Summit County criminal court. It is important to understand that, like administrative penalties, DUIs are priorable in criminal courts, meaning that any previous DUI convictions on your record can lead to additional penalties for any subsequent conviction. If you are convicted of a DUI in Breckenridge, you can face:

  • First Offense: Two to 180 days in county jail, $200 to $500 in fines, and 24 hours to 48 hours of community service.
  • Second Offense: Five days to one year in county jail, $600 to $1,000 in fines, and 48 hours to 96 hours of community service.
  • Third Offense: 60 days to one year in county jail, $600 to $1,500 in fines, and 48 hours to 120 hours of community service.
  • Fourth Offense: Two to four years in state prison, $2,000 to $500,000 in fines, three years of parole, and 48 hours to 120 hours of community service.

A fourth DUI offense is treated as a felony in Colorado, meaning you may also lose custody rights, the right to own a firearm, and be unable to seal your criminal conviction. The penalties for a DUID are also the same as a DUI, however a DWAI will have a lighter sentence for the first offense. Any subsequent DWAI offense will lead to the same charges as a DUI, including felony penalties for a fourth DWAI.

Drivers can also face additional penalties for having a BAC of over 0.15%, being involved in a DUI accident (vehicular assault), having a child in a vehicle (child endangerment), or if someone dies during a DUI accident (vehicular manslaughter).

Summit County Out-of-State DUI Arrests

In Breckenridge, the impact of a DUI may vary depending on whether you are a Colorado resident. To be clear: both residents and tourists can face harsh penalties for a conviction, but the process for out-of-state defendants is slightly different.

For one, out-of-state defendants who are arrested for a DUI in Summit County, may have their driving privileges suspended in both Colorado and their home state. This is because Colorado is a part of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact (IDLC), which means that Colorado’s DMV will report all DUIs to the National Driver Register (NDR). When this occurs, a driver’s home state may also suspend a driver’s license. The exceptions to this are the states of Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, which are not a part of the IDLC.

Out-of-state drivers may also not apply for early reinstatement of their license. This is because Colorado does not have jurisdiction in the driver’s home state to reinstate the license under local laws, and out-of-state drivers are required to serve the full suspension before getting their driving privileges back.

A major worry you may have as an out-of-state driver is appearing in court on a DUI charge in Summit County. DUI charges may be negotiated for months between a defense lawyer and district attorney before the case even goes to trial. While you may assume that you have to remain in Colorado during these negotiations, you can actually return home if you allow your attorney to represent you at court appearances and during negotiations. You will only have to return if your case goes to trial, but a skilled Breckenridge DUI attorney may be able to get your charges dismissed or reduced during negotiations prior to a trial.

Representation in Summit County Traffic Court

Alongside DUIs, drivers in Breckenridge often face other traffic charges like speeding, running red lights, and reckless turns. Defendants have up to 20 days to pay a traffic fine in Colorado, but you may be able to negotiate your case through the mail, allowing out-of-state drivers who are issued traffic tickets in Summit County to return home. Our Breckenridge traffic offense attorneys at Whitaker & Penix, LLC can also provide representation in these cases to have your charges dismissed, including cases involving:

  • Nonmoving and petty traffic violations
  • Driving without a driver’s license
  • Driving under a revoked license
  • Texting while driving
  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding
  • Running red lights
  • Vehicular eluding
  • Hit-and-runs
  • Aggravated driving

Speak to a Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

The consequences of a DUI or traffic offense should always be taken seriously, especially if you are an out-of-state driver. Even if the prosecution is offering a plea deal, you should always exercise your right to speak to an attorney. At Whitaker & Penix, LLC, we have experience on both sides of the court and have worked for years to give our clients the best possible defenses in DUI and traffic ticket cases. We can review the charges against you, size up your options in a DMV hearing or criminal court, and advocate for your best interests.

Get started on protecting your future. Call us at (970) 368-0602 for a free phone consultation with a Breckenridge criminal defense attorney.

Additional Information