It is against the law to drive "under the influence." It is not, however, against the law to drive after consuming a small amount of alcohol. Colorado DUI law defines the difference between the two. Whether you are legally under the influence, or are within acceptable bounds, is determined by two separate DUI statutes. One DUI statute defines being "under the influence" as the point at which your ability to drive is impaired "to a substantial degree." The other statute defines under the influence as having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater while driving. In DWAI cases, impairment is defined as impairment "to the slightest degree." The mere presence of some alcohol in your system does not make you guilty of DUI. In fact, if a blood alcohol test reveals a result of 0.049 or lower, you will be presumed not guilty of any alcohol driving offense.
There are two different laws that the prosecutor can use to try to convict you of DUI. The first law, as mentioned above, requires the jury to find you guilty if they are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving when your ability was impaired to a substantial degree. The second DUI law is called "DUI Per Se." The DUI Per Se statute requires the jury to convict you if they are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that you had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher while you were driving, or within two hours of driving.
The defense of a DUI case involves examining the conclusion that you were driving under the influence with skepticism. Each piece of evidence against you is subject to either human or machine error. When the evidence is pulled apart, and studied for these errors, it may turn out that you did not meet the legal definition of DUI, and should not take a conviction.
The jury must consider the police officer's testimony about things such as the smell of alcohol on your breath - or whether you served on the road - when determining if you were substantially impaired. "Substantial impairment" is a matter of opinion - and the officer's opinion will play a large role in forming the jurors' opinions.
Your attorney must challenge the sometimes mistaken officer. The officer is only human, and capable of over-stating the indications that you were drunk. Like all people, the police don't want to be wrong - and they are experienced trial witnesses that know what questions to expect defense attorneys to ask them. An experienced Denver attorney knows this, and prepares accordingly. Our experience will allow us to anticipate how the officer that testifies against you will respond to our questions, and how they will present their evidence against you.
Blood alcohol evidence is subject to both human and machine error. Your breath machine may have been performing inaccurate BAC tests, or the officer may have failed to follow the legally required procedures that are meant to ensure the accuracy of the test. It should never be assumed that your result was accurate.
For these reasons, actual guilt under the law depends on evidence that must be closely scrutinized before you plead guilty to any DUI related offense. The penalties you could face are too substantial to ignore the reality that the evidence against you could be inaccurate.