Auto Accident Attorney
Being charged with a DUI is stressful enough. Unfortunately, this situation can be even worse if you are also charged with possessing a firearm while intoxicated.
If you were stopped for DWAI or DUI involving drugs or alcohol and you had a gun in your car at the time, you were also probably charged with possessing a weapon while intoxicated, which is sometimes listed as “prohibited use of weapons” on charging documents. This is a Class 2 misdemeanor in Colorado, which carries a sentence ranging from three months to 364 days in jail and a fine of between $250 to $1,000.
Whether your gun was loaded or not technically makes no difference in the eyes of the law. However, where the gun was in relation to you and whether it was loaded or not are factors the prosecutor may weigh when they are assessing the potential charges against you.
When you are charged with prohibited use of weapons along with a DUI, the prosecutor has to prove specific “elements” of your crime. The first element is possession; the prosecutor must be able to show that you did, in fact, possess the gun. This is an element that your criminal lawyer, like a DUI lawyer from Richard J. Banta, P.C., can really challenge. Many times, issues with the possession part of the prosecution’s case against you stem from where your gun was found.
A firearm can be found in many places in a car. It could be in a locked box in your truck’s cab, in the center console of your car, in the backseat, in your glovebox or even in the side pocket of your door. Just simply having the gun in your car when you’re stopped for DUI doesn’t automatically satisfy the “possession” element for the prosecution. It will fall on them to prove you really did have possession of the gun, legally speaking, when you were stopped.
The second element is a little more complex. Your case’s prosecutor has to show that you were under the influence or a controlled substance or liquor when you were stopped. In the actual “prohibited use of weapons” law in Colorado, there is no breath or blood alcohol level stated that automatically establishes this element.
A skilled criminal lawyer has many ways to defend you against a firearm charge related to DUI. They can, for example, argue that you were not intoxicated at the time, so the case is missing this element. They can also argue your stop was illegal to begin with or that the gun was found during an illegal search by law enforcement. As noted above, many defense attorneys aggressively pursue the possession element of the law because it’s not always easy for the prosecutor to argue that you did, in fact, have possession of the gun at the time.
Don’t wait for your DUI-related firearm charge to simply go away. You could be facing jail time and fines, and you’ll have a record that will follow you for the rest of your life if you are convicted. Contact an auto accident attorney for help immediately.