Military DUI Lawyers in Colorado Springs
Helping Military Members Reduce DUI Penalties
Being charged with a DUI can have severe consequences in any scenario. But if you are a member of the military, you could face additional penalties that can impact your career as well as your personal life. The Colorado court system is especially harsh on DUI cases and may enact further penalties against military personnel as additional punishment. If you are facing DUI or DWAI charges in the military, hiring a criminal defense attorney is essential.
At Joyner Law, our team has years of experience representing military clients in the face of DUI charges. We will review your case and develop a legal strategy to protect your military career and reduce the penalties against you. Criminal charges can be detrimental to anyone in the military justice system, so having representation is essential. For a free consultation, call our office today at 719-294-0566.
How Does Colorado Define DUI?
A DUI, or driving under the influence, is defined as being intoxicated to the point that you cannot safely control a motor vehicle. Driving under the influence is illegal whether you’re operating a car, truck, motorcycle, or any other kind of vehicle on the road. If any drivers are caught on the road with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, they can be charged with a DUI.
In Colorado, you can also be charged with driving while ability impaired, or DWAI. DWAI charges apply if you are operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content between .05 and .08. Although the penalties for a DWAI case tend to be less severe, they can still impact your military career and your future job prospects.
Although the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle is .08, any amount of impairment can cause a military member to be charged with a DUI. If you are found to be driving under the influence in a way that impacts your normal ability to drive, you can and most likely will be charged.
What is an On-Base DUI?
If a member of the military is accused of driving under the influence while on a military base, it is referred to as an on-base DUI case. On-base DUIs are much more likely to be handled through the military justice system or a court-martial. The military court uses a different system than a civilian court, which can impact how individuals defend themselves.
For one, the military court has a much lower burden of proof than a civilian court does. In most civilian cases, there is a hearing where the defendant can defend themselves with an attorney present. Prosecutors have the burden of proof and must prove guilt without a reasonable doubt for the defendant to be convicted. These proceedings often take a long time, especially in Colorado, where DUI cases are taken very seriously.
In a military court case, the accused can be convicted of drunk driving even if it cannot be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt. While a legal hearing is still required, military members may convict a defendant even without substantial evidence against them.
What is an Off-Base DUI?
An off-base DUI case happens when a member of the military is found driving under the influence on civilian land. In the case of an off-base DUI, civilian authorities will try the military member instead of the military court. However, the defendant’s commanding officer may also choose to take punitive action alongside the civilian court. If a military member is convicted, they could be required to take corrective training or get enlisted in a substance abuse treatment program. They may also be relieved of their pass privileges.
Even if a military member is convicted in civilian court, they may also be tried and convicted in military court as well. In this case, the military court will often try military members for a different charge related to driving under the influence. If convicted, the military member could face two different sets of punishments from two different courts. This does not violate an individual’s right against double jeopardy because they are being tried in two separate systems of justice.
What is a Court-Martial?
A court-martial is a judicial court that is used to try members of the armed services. It can be used for any criminal offense, including DUIs and DWAIs. In most cases, one commissioned officer will serve as both judge and jury during a court-martial hearing. The accused can cross-examine witnesses, testify, or call witnesses of their own. Any military member who is accused of a crime has the right to have an attorney present at a court-martial, although they do not have the right to a free military attorney.
Court-martial hearings are typically much faster than civilian court hearings and are normally reserved for serious offenses, like felonies. You may be charged with a felony DUI if you cause a car accident that harms, injures, or kills another person. You may also be charged with a felony DUI if this is your fourth or subsequent DUI conviction in a specific time period. In this case, you may face civilian penalties as well as potential military penalties for the same crime.
What Are the Potential Consequences of a Military DUI?
If you are tried and convicted of a DUI in civilian court, the penalties can include 12 months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,500, and a driver’s license suspension of up to one year. If you are convicted of a second or subsequent DUI, the penalties will be even harsher. You will also have to pay court costs, attorney fees, and probation fees, which can add up to a substantial amount.
For military personnel, the penalties do not stop in civilian courts. You may face the following consequences for a military DUI:
- Extra duty
- Letter of Reprimand
- Reduction in rank
- Reduction in wage
- Non-judicial punishment
- Diminished rations
- Suspended deployment
- Corrective or additional training
- Bar to reenlistment
Punitive actions, like a reduction in pay or rank, are meant to punish the military personnel in an attempt to discourage them from repeating their actions. Administrative actions are meant as punishments to teach the military member a lesson and encourage them to change their ways. Any military member who faces two incidents of alcohol-related misconduct in a single year could be dishonorably discharged.
What Are the Post-Military Challenges You May Face After a DUI Conviction?
Although military penalties may be severe, jail time, fines, and rank reductions aren’t the only consequences you may face after a DUI conviction. A conviction on your criminal record can impact your life for years.
You may experience the following challenges after a DUI conviction:
Difficulty Getting a Job
Many members of the military face challenges finding a civilian job once they’ve left their military career behind. However, having a criminal conviction on your record can make it even more difficult. Many hiring managers are hesitant to hire convicted criminals, which can make your job search a long and arduous process.
Difficulty Securing a Loan
If you are planning to take a loan out for a house, a car, or even your education, a conviction on your record can derail your plans. Certain banks will not give loans to those with convictions on their records, making it very hard to make large purchases in the future.
Fewer Educational Opportunities
College applications often require applicants to disclose any criminal history they have. Some college admission staff will hesitate to allow a convicted criminal to attend their university. If you have plans to go to college, a DUI conviction could make it difficult.
Many military members are the primary breadwinners of their families. If you are convicted of a DUI and discharged from the military, your family may find it difficult to survive without your income. This can put a strain on your marital relationship.
What Are the Common Defenses in a DUI Case?
After a DUI arrest, it is essential to contact a military DUI defense lawyer to begin working on your case. While your DUI defense will depend on your specific circumstances, there are a few common defense strategies that may be useful in your situation.
The most common defense strategies in a DUI case include:
Lack of Probable Cause
Law enforcement officers must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed before they stop someone on the road. If you were pulled over and you were not swerving, braking, speeding, or driving erratically, our team can argue that there was no probable cause and that your case should be dismissed.
Faulty Breath Test
A breath test is done with a breathalyzer to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC). These tests must be administered correctly with working equipment to be admissible in court. If your breathalyzer test was not done correctly or the results were faulty, our law firm can argue that the results should be thrown out.
Improper Field Sobriety Tests
Officers may check your level of intoxication with field sobriety tests. This can include standing on one leg, following an object with just your eyes, and walking and turning quickly. If officers do not follow the correct test procedures, our team can create a defense strategy to have these test results thrown out.
Certain medical conditions can mimic the signs of driving under the influence. If you have allergies, diabetes, or conditions that cause fatigue, our team can argue that your mannerisms were not due to inebriation and that you should not be charged with a DUI.
Mishandling of Blood Samples
If you are arrested for a DUI, you will likely be required to submit to a blood test for civilian prosecution. A blood test is a chemical test that analyzes how much alcohol is in your blood. If this blood test was given improperly or not stored correctly, our legal team can advise a judge that the evidence is invalid and cannot be used against you.
Miranda Rights Violation
Members of the military still have Miranda Rights, or the right to remain silent, and the right to an attorney in civilian cases. If an officer arrests you but does not read you your rights before questioning you, our team can argue that anything you told officers is inadmissible and cannot be used against you.
Inconsistent Testimony from Officers
The officers who pulled you over will likely have to give their witness statements on the stand at trial. If their statements are inconsistent or do not align with other witness statements, our team can advise a judge that they should not be allowed into evidence. In some cases, civilian judges will dismiss DUI cases entirely due to inconsistent police testimony.
What Does a DUI Attorney Do?
If you are facing DUI charges, it is essential to contact a Colorado Springs military attorney immediately. As your DUI lawyer, our team will assist you every step of the way, from your arrest all the way to your trial.
There are many things a DUI attorney can do for you, including:
- Gathering evidence on your behalf
- Representing you in DMV hearings
- Representing you in a court-martial
- Negotiating with prosecutors to reach a plea deal
- Representing you in civilian court before a judge
Because our team has experience in the federal court system as well as in military law, we know exactly how to navigate your case and provide the best defense. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about us, contact our office today.
Should I Hire a DUI Lawyer?
Being convicted of a DUI can have significant consequences for military personnel. Civilian penalties like jail time, fines, and community service are just some of the consequences you may face after a conviction. Reduced wages, reduced rank, extra duty, and a Letter of Reprimand can all set your military career back. The best thing you can do for yourself when facing DUI charges is to hire a criminal defense attorney to help you avoid a conviction.
At Joyner Law, our team of experienced attorneys knows how to defend you in a military DUI case. Whether you are facing an on-base DUI or an off-base DUI, we can help you navigate the judicial system and negotiate with prosecutors or your commanding officers. We will represent you in a civilian court, court-martial, or both. Above all, we want our clients to feel like they are in charge of their own futures instead of being left to the whim of the judicial system. Our lawyers will be there to answer any of your questions and adjust your legal strategy as needed to get you the outcome you deserve. For a free consultation, call us today at 719-294-0566.