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March 11, 2011
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Carbondale woman's license was revoked after DUI stop

ASPEN - While a Carbondale woman won't face a DUI charge after registering a .232 on a breath-alcohol test following her arrest last summer, her license was revoked as part of a standard administrative action by the Department of Motor Vehicles, her attorney said.

The revocation was separate from the court case of Erika Gallegos, 26, who was pulled over at approximately 2:15 a.m. on June 26, 2010, by Aspen Police officer Greggory Cole on the Maroon Creek Bridge, located on Highway 82.

On March 4, Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely suppressed all evidence made after the stop, ruling that the reasonable-suspicion criteria was not met by Cole when he pulled over Gallegos. The judge noted, in her ruling, that she disagreed with Cole's portrayal that he stopped the Nissan Frontier that Gallegos was driving because it was crossing lines, among other claims. On Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Richard Nedlin dismissed the case.

"The video does not confirm that the driver crossed the line three times or that she almost hit the sidewalk or that she drove in a manner that was unsafe or careless," the judge wrote. "The evidence presented shows that such crossing on the marked lines was minimal and technical in nature. The Court finds that under the totality of the circumstances there was no reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed justifying the stop."

Gallegos' attorney, Lawson Wills, said his client's license was revoked by the DMV last summer after the DUI stop. Gallegos does not have any prior drinking-and-driving related offenses, Wills said.

If the DMV determines that a driver had a breath- or blood-alcohol content greater than .17 for a first-time DUI arrest, the offenders have the option, after their license has been revoked for 30 days, of having a breath-alcohol ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. The interlock device will not allow a vehicle to start if the driver's BAC is no higher than, generally speaking, .04. Under Colorado law, motorists are considered legally intoxicated if their BAC exceeds .08.

DMV records are closed to the public, and Wills said he did not know if Gallegos opted for an interlock device after 30 days, rather than having her license revoked for the required nine months. If she did, she would have been required to have the device in her car for two years.

Wills said public criticism against the judge for suppressing the evidence is off base. He noted that the judge's job was merely to determine whether the stop by Cole was warranted. Gallegos' breath-alcohol content had no bearing on the judge's decision, because the breathalyzer test was taken after the stop in question.

"If you're going to allow an officer to pull people over based on feelings then you're limiting our constitutional rights," Wills said.

The APD stands behind Cole, who, in the last six weeks, has seen evidence suppressed in two DUI arrests he made because the judge determined that video evidence ran counter to Cole's description of the incidents.

"Cole's supervisors seem to think that's OK," Wills said. "If that were you or I we'd be in jail for perjury."

rcarroll@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Mar 11, 2011 07:02AM Published Mar 11, 2011 02:53AM Copyright 2011 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.