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Issue of voluntariness (unsuccessfully) raised at license revocation hearing

Last time, we spoke a bit on the topic of challenging a drivers’ license revocation in Colorado, which is a common issue that comes up in the course of DUI defense. As we noted, there are certain types of evidence that can be tried in a revocation hearing, and these issues relate to the license revocation rather than the defendant’s DUI charge, if such a charge exists.

A revocation hearing that took place at the end of April has become the subject of a lawsuit filed against the state of Colorado and a Department of Revenue hearing officer raises an interesting defense, and one which has not been definitively addressed as yet. The driver claims that because he was under the influence of Ambien at the time of his arrest, he did not voluntarily engage in drinking and driving.

 

At his hearing, the driver presented undisputed evidence that a chemical test performed at the time of his arrest came back with a positive result for both alcohol and Ambien. He also established that one of the common side effects of the drug is sleepwalking, or somnambulism. The weak point in the man’s case, at least according to the hearing officer, is that Colorado law does not require a showing that the drinking and driving was voluntary. The man is suing on the claim that it does.

It isn’t clear how far the lawsuit will go, but sources make no mention of a criminal case against the man. Presumably, then, the question of voluntariness relates only to the revocation hearing. We will be sure to keep our readers updated on any developments in the case. In the meantime,  it is safe to assume that you are not in the clear for drinking and driving just because you have taken sleeping pills!

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