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Colorado’s Drunk Driving Laws & Subsequent Penalties

The state of Colorado takes drunk driving offenses seriously and has a number of penalties for those convicted of breaking the law. Therefore, it's a good idea to become familiar with these laws, their penalties and how you can defend yourself if you are arrested and charged with DUI.

Drunk Driving

Colorado is a state that has an implied consent law. This means that a driver must agree to take a chemical test if they have been stopped by law enforcement and drunk driving is suspected. A driver may be asked to take a blood, saliva, breath, or urine test. These tests are designed to measure the amount of alcohol in a person's blood, referred to as BAC.

There are different drinking and driving offenses in Colorado for different levels of blood alcohol content. The offenses are:

  • Driving while impaired or DWAI - BAC registers over 0.05 but under 0.08
  • Driving under the influence - BAC registers over 0.08
  • Persistent drunk driver - BAC registers at 0.17 or more

If a person refuses to submit to a blood alcohol content test, then that refusal can be used in court.

Penalties for Drunk Driving Conviction

Each type of drinking and driving offense has its own set of penalties if a person is convicted. Furthermore, those penalties increase if a person is convicted more than once for drunk driving. In Colorado there are two sets of penalties that a person convicted of DUI faces and those are criminal penalties and administrative penalties. Criminal penalties include public service, jail time, and fines while administrative penalties involve license suspension, points being added to a person's driving record, and license revocation.

If a person is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, they can expect to have their license suspended for 9 months up to 2 years, pay a fine between $200 and $1,500, spend 2 days to a year in jail, and perform 24 hours to 120 hours in community service. Penalties for underage drivers are less severe.

When a person has caused an accident and someone else was injured or killed, then the criminal charges are more severe and that person could be handed a prison sentence and other penalties.

Defense and DUI

Given that penalties for drunk driving in Colorado are so severe, it is important to present the best criminal defense possible. For example, if a driver was tested with a breath machine, a criminal defense attorney may be able to point to deficiencies with the machine. Studies have shown that the breath machine can produce false readings since there are a number of everyday items that can influence the result such as breads, paint removers, gasoline, body temperature, physical activity, and health conditions according to the State University of New York.

If you are charged with DUI, it can be to your benefit to hire an attorney experienced in representing DUI clients. An attorney can advise you as to your options and will do everything they can to protect your rights.