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DUI testing issues could help defendants get charges dropped

When Colorado drivers are stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, one of the main ways in which law enforcement and prosecutors will secure a conviction is through testing procedures to determine their blood-alcohol concentration. While it is never wise to get behind the wheel after drinking, a simple traffic stop, investigation and arrest does not automatically mean that the driver is guilty and should be convicted. One strategy to lodge an effective defense is to call the testing into question. Recently, the state has implemented new procedures to test drivers and issues with the protocol could warrant dropped charges.

There has been a rise in blood tests for DUI and it could be problematic for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Over the summer, CBI began offering free blood testing to law enforcement agencies due to cash shortages. This was designed to encourage tests when the agencies might not have given them. However, their decision led to a private lab that handled a significant number of tests to close and subsequently put more pressure on CBI. Drivers who are charged with DUI after a blood test should be aware of this because there is a limit to how long people can be made to wait to go to trial before the charges must be dropped.

When there are cases for which CBI has not completed the tests in time, people can have the charges dropped because of speedy-trial rules. The number of tests that CBI needed since the change was implemented on July 1 has doubled to more than 1,500. Even if there is an overload, the closure of the testing lab means other methods would be necessary to meet the need for tests. The director of CBI stated that the process is still proceeding well, but prosecutors have concerns.

For people arrested on DUI charges, there are many avenues to lodge a defense. This is important because a conviction can have a negative impact on their lives in myriad ways with lost driving privileges, jail time, fines and more. The driver might have a viable reason for having appeared to have been under the influence. The stop could have violated the driver's rights. Or if law enforcement did not follow the required protocol and adhere to the necessary time limits for testing, there could be a dismissal of the charges. Regardless, having legal assistance can be critical to the case and calling a qualified drunk driving defense attorney is the first step.

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