Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Colorado

Being arrested for DUI in Colorado can be expensive and have long-lasting repercussions. A conviction can affect your life regarding employment, relationships, and social standing in the community. Being aware of laws regarding driving under the influence and DUI penalties can help you better understand your rights and find a knowledgeable Colorado DUI defense attorney to help resolve your case.

Colorado Drunk Driving Laws

Colorado law breaks up drunk driving offenses into three categories. Typically, these offenses are misdemeanors, but they may be elevated to a class 4 felony if the driver is facing their fourth offense or injures or kills another person. Colorado drunk driving law includes being in actual physical control of a vehicle and vehicles that are parked if you were found in a position to drive the vehicle.

Implied Consent: Yes

Enhanced Penalties: BAC of .15% BAC or more; driving with a child in the vehicle, causing an accident of serious bodily injury or death; prior convictions

Driving while ability impaired (DWAI) requires a BAC of more than .05% but less than .08% and comes with penalties such as:

  • First offense: 2 days to 180 days imprisonment, $200 to $500 in fines, 24 to 48 hours of community service, and potentially two years of probation.
  • Second offense: 10 days to one year in jail, $600 to $1,500 in fines, a one-year license suspension, 48 to 120 hours of community service, an alcohol safety program, and a minimum of two years of probation.
  • Third offense: 60 days to 1-year imprisonment, $600 to $1,500 in fines, a two-year license suspension, 48 to 120 hours of community service, an alcohol safety program, a minimum of two years probation, and potentially alcohol intake monitoring.

Driving under the influence is known as a common-law offense, where a person’s substantial impairment affects their ability to operate the vehicle. A charge of driving under the influence per se means the driver has a BAC of .08% or higher. Colorado law makes a fourth DUI a Class 4 felony that can send you to prison for up to six years. The BAC level is lowered to .02% for drivers under the age of 21 years old. For commercial drivers (CDL), the BAC level is .04%.

Costs of a Colorado DUI

Law enforcement takes drunk and impaired driving very seriously in Colorado. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, there were 188 fatalities in Colorado in 2018 where the driver’s BAC was over .08% and alcohol was involved. State statutes define two tiers of driving offenses regarding impairment:

  • Driving While Ability is Impaired (DWAI)
  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI)

A publication issued by the Colorado Department of Transportation details the financial and other costs associated with a DUI arrest and conviction. The total cost of a first-time DUI can reach up to $13,500. Second and subsequent violations would have much higher costs and more stringent penalties attached. The 2022 Colorado Department of Transportation compilation of costs can include just some of the below:

  • $1,000 for alcohol drug and education treatment
  • $900 probation supervision fee
  • $50 victim impact panel
  • $3,650 estimated legal defense
  • $3,650 license reinstatement
  • $200 community supervision fee
  • $900 auto insurance increase
  • $1,000 restricted license
  • $2,172 ignition interlock device (IID)

A first-time DUI can be costly and there are far better ways to spend your hard-earned money, so plan a sober driver if you plan on consuming alcohol on a night out.

Benefits of a Colorado DUI Defense Attorney

An arrest for drunk driving does not have to end in a conviction. Your DUI defense attorney can investigate the circumstances behind the blood alcohol testing and arrest to ensure your rights are protected. In many cases, your lawyer can negotiate with the judge and prosecutor to reduce the DUI penalties. Seek out an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney who can help guide you through the process.

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