Monday, November 29, 2010

COA: No Statutory Preference for State's Chemical Test in Determining "Persistent Drunk Driver"

The Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled that Department of Revenue hearing officers cannot, as a matter of law, disregard conflicting chemical test evidence in determining whether a driver is a "persistent drunk driver" under Colorado law. In Garcia v. Huber, a Dept. of Revenue hearing officer refused to consider the driver's independent chemical test results which conflicted with the state's blood test results which showed the driver's BAC at .174, claiming that Colorado statute established legal preference for chemical tests conducted by the state over private testing done on behalf of the driver. The COA clearly found that, while a preference for state-conducted tests exists in determining Blood/Breath Alcohol Content for per se revocations, no such preference exists regarding BAC levels in determining whether a driver is a "persistent drunk driver."

Colorado law provides enhanced criminal penalties and harsher driver's license restrictions for persons found to be "persistent drunk drivers." In order for a person to be designated a "persistent drunk driver," he/she must be found driving a vehicle with a Blood/Breath Alcohol content of .170 or greater. This is but one example of the many unique provisions of Colorado DUI law which necessitate the assistance of an experienced attorney to understand all implications of this type of criminal charge.

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