In January of this year, an off duty Denver police offer side-swiped another car, causing the other driver to swerve, rolling the car. That off duty officer, Jessie Espinoza, was drunk at the time. A jury has found him guilty of DUI. Espinoza’s BAC was more than three times the legal limit. Espinoza has a prior DWAI from 1996. Espinoza joined the police force in 1999.
In Colorado, if a person is convicted of a DUI or a DWAI and has a prior DUI or DWAI, there is a mandatory jail sentence. However, the age of the prior DUI or DWAI is important. If the prior conviction is more than five years old, then the judge has the option to allow the defendant to serve any and all jail time in the form of an alternative sentence, such as in-home detention. If, on the other hand, the prior conviction is within the last five years, then the judge must sentence the defendant to a minimum of 10 days jail and the time must actually be served in jail and no good time will be awarded on those first 10 days.
Espinoza has not been sentenced yet for his second conviction. This is likely because Colorado law requires an alcohol evaluation before the court can sentence him. The evaluation is likely required for Espinoza for two reasons: 1. He has a prior conviction and 2. His BAC may have been greater than a 0.200. The alcohol evaluation addresses the facts of the case, the defendant’s criminal and traffic history, including any prior alcohol related driving offenses in Colorado or any other state. Any and all prior convictions “count” as a prior regardless of where the prior conviction occurred. The evaluation will also assess the defendant’s risk factors and recommend a level of therapy. The evaluation is a recommendation to the judge.
If you have been charged with a DUI, even if you believe you are guilty, it is still important to speak with an attorney. A DUI lawyer is not only skilled in defending and trying a case, but also in providing mitigation and making sentencing arguments to a judge to put the client in the best light possible to receive a lenient sentence. Providing mitigation and making sentencing arguments can be just as important as going to trial on a case. All phases of your defense are important to the attorneys at Dahl, Fischer & Wilks. Please contact us today for a free consultation