Back in August, professional basketball player and reality TV star Lamar Odom, was arrested for suspicion of DUI. Odom was contacted for driving too slowly and in a “serpentine” manner. Odom refused to submit to a chemical test to determine his blood alcohol level, which resulted in automatic revocation of his license under California law. While Odom’s refusal prevented law enforcement from knowing his blood alcohol level, other objective signs of intoxication, provided police with sufficient evidence to arrest Odom and, apparently, sufficient evidence for the prosecution to prove the case because Odom entered into an agreement with the prosecution, deciding not to take the case to trial.
Odom entered a no contest plea to DUI and was sentenced to three years of probation with alcohol treatment. Most judges in Colorado do not accept no contest pleas. Most judges require a guilty plea in order to accept the benefit of a plea bargain. In the alternative, a defendant may enter a not guilty plea, setting the case for trial and requiring the prosecution to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
In Colorado, the elements of a DUI, or what the prosecution would have to prove at trial, are that the charged person, on or about the date and place charged, drove a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both. “Under the influence” means substantially incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. In comparison, to prove a DWAI, the prosecution must prove that the charged person, on or about the date and place charged, drove a motor vehicle while his or her ability was impaired to the slightest degree by the consumption of alcohol or drugs or both.