Larry D. Combs - Steamboat Springs Criminal Defense Attorney

Larry D. Combs


Colorado DUI Charges Q & A

These are some of the questions I get asked most frequently about DUI charges in and around Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

I don't live in the area. Do I have to come back to face the DUI charge?

If you live more than (3) hours from Steamboat, you should avoid the expense and effort of returning to Steamboat for a brief court appearance. However, you must protect your bail bond and not allow a warrant to be issued for failing to appear in court. I can appear on your behalf and obtain an Order from the Judge excusing you from returning to Steamboat. The objective is to avoid you having to appear in court. If you live out of state, this can be done. If you live in Colorado, you should only have to appear in court one time.

If there is any court disposition, I can arrange the following:

  1. All court costs to be paid by mail.
  2. If you are required to perform Public Service, I can find a sponsor in your community.
  3. If you must attend an Alcohol Education Class, I will locate a program near your home.

May I Refuse the Roadside Tests?

Unless you are an Olympic gymnast, do not attempt the roadside tests. Your performance will not avoid an arrest and will give the officer more to criticize. The roadside tests are voluntary and your refusal to perform them cannot be used against you. Also you decision not to perform them may be explained by several reasons, including physical issues, weather conditions, location and medical problems.

The result of the roadside breath test is not admissible evidence in court because it is not necessarily accurate. Say "no thank you" if offered the roadside breath test.

When Shoud I Refuse a Breath Test?

When you are arrested for DUI, the officer will request you to complete a test of your blood or breath to determine your alcohol level. The Colorado Express Consent law requires any person, whether or not a resident of the state, who drives a vehicle on the streets or anywhere in the state, to complete a test of the person's breath or blood for the purpose of determining the alcohol content. If the DMV decides that you refused to submit to the chemical test following a lawful contact and probable cause for the arrest, your Colorado driving privilege will be revoked for one year. This one-year revocation does not allow any driving privilege.

If you submit to a test of your blood or breath following a lawful arrest and the reported test result is greater than .080 and there was a previous reported test result greater than .080, your driving privilege is revoked for one year without any form of driving privilege. The difference is that after this one-year revocation, you must drive with the electronic ignition device for two years. A Refusal Revocation of one year does not require the electronic ignition device for the following two years.

Therefore, the best decision may be to refuse to complete the chemical test if you have a prior revocation because of a .080 alcohol level and the second test will likely result in a blood alcohol level greater than .080. This Refusal Revocation avoids driving with the ignition device for two years.

What Do Breath/Blood Tests Mean?

Upon Being Arrested for DUI, DWAI or DUID in Colorado, you will be requested to submit to a chemical test of your breath or blood. You will lose your driving privilege if:

  1. Your blood alcohol level is greater than .080.
  2. You refuse to submit to a chemical test of your blood or breath.
  3. Your THC level exceeds the legal limit, which has not yet been established.
  4. You are convicted of DUI or DUID.

Your driving privilege will be cancelled for:

  1. One year if you refuse to submit to a chemical test of breath or blood.
  2. One month to one year if your blood alcohol level is greater than .080.
  3. One year to five years if you have prior convictions.

I had legal prescription medication but still got a DUI?

Driving under the influence of any drug is illegal even if the drugs are legal and were obtained with a prescription, medical marijuana card or purchased over the counter. If your medication reduces your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, you can be arrested for DUI. Law enforcement agencies have trained Drug Recognition Experts to identify drivers impaired by drugs. DRE evaluations occur after a driver has been arrested for DUI and the reason for the impairment is not obvious. However, DRE evaluations are voluntary just like performing roadside maneuvers.

Even though the prescription medication may not reduce your physical and/or mental faculties to safely operate a motor vehicle, consuming alcohol with the medication may alter your physical behavior and appearance.

Regardless of the substance, the legal question is still whether your driving was impaired or not and what are the indications of impairment. There is no "per se illegal limit" for drugs like alcohol (.080). Therefore, all aspects of your arrest must be examined: driving behavior, physical behavior and appearance, statements, roadside maneuvers and chemical test results. If you are arrested while driving with prescription medication, you must use all the defense tools available to protect your driving privilege and your health.

When I Got Pulled Over I didn't Get Read The Miranda Rights

When you are contacted for an alleged traffic violation, welfare check or road block, you are not "in custody." Also, any questions asked by the officer are not considered "interrogation" but only an investigation. Therefore, in the absence of "custodial interrogation," you are not entitled to be read the Miranda rights. However, you do have the right to remain silent. Any explanations will be used against you. Just say "yes and no". Be polite and quiet.

What About Court Costs?

The legislature has established mandatory court costs which are assessed in every case. The Judge does have discretion over the amount of the fine and the cost of any jail sentence. If a cash bond was paid, it will be applied towards the court costs. Court costs can be paid on a payment schedule over a number of months. A form must be submitted and a monthly amount is agreed upon. The cost of the time payment plan is $25.00. The objective is to minimize the financial impact and inconvenience.

Do I Have to Do An Alcohol Evaluation?

If you enter a plea of guilty or if you are convicted of an alcohol or drug driving offense, the Judge will not sentence you without an evaluation and recommendation for alcohol classes and therapy. The cost of the evaluation is $200.00 and involves completing a questionnaire and being interviewed. The recommendation can be for Level I classes (12 hours) or Level II classes (24 hours). Additional therapy can require 42 to 86 hours. The objective is to minimize the classes and therapy hours. Also, obtaining the evaluation early can have a favorable impression on the Judge and prosecutor, allow you to drive to classes and avoid a second court appearance.

Will I Need An Electronic Interlock Device?

If your blood alcohol level is reported to be more than .080, the Department of Motor Vehicles will seek to revoke your driving privilege for nine (9) months. You must request an Administrative Hearing and if the revocation is ordered, you will have no driving privilege for 30 days. You must apply immediately for reinstatement of your driving privilege with the interlock device. I will take you through the procedure and provide you with the required forms, contacts and information to get you driving again.

What Can I Do To Avoid A Contempt Citation?

Upon sentencing, you will be ordered by the Judge to:

  1. Pay court costs and fine
  2. Perform Public Service hours
  3. Attend Alcohol Education Class and therapy
  4. Serve a jail sentence
  5. Not commit other offenses.

If you fail to comply with any part of the Sentence Order, you will be served with a contempt citation. If the Judge finds that you did not comply, you will be punished with jail time or public service hours. This can be avoided, if you call me in time.

Criminal Defense for Stamboat springs, Craig, Routt and Moffat Counties

"Over the last fourteen years, I have tried more jury trials than any practicing attorney in the 14th Judicial District (Routt County, Moffat County, and Grand County Colorado including Steamboat Springs, Craig, and Hot Sulphur Springs) with consistent success."

       -- Larry D. Combs



Attorney Larry Combs provides DUI and DWAI defense within the 14th judicial district which includes Routt County, Moffat County, and Grand County Colorado. This includes the municipalities of Steamboat Springs, Craig, Hot Sulphur Springs, Oak Creek, and Hayden.


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