Suppose you have an arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Colorado. In that case, you face serious consequences that increase depending on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level at the time of the arrest.
According to the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice’s report issued in 2020, drivers in the 26-34 age range accounted for 30% of Colorado drunk driving cases filed in court in 2018. Colorado’s conviction rate for DUI is 88%, with a 96% conviction rate for high blood-alcohol levels.
Statistics like that make understanding the consequences of a Colorado DUI conviction worthwhile. It is also easy to see why representation by an attorney experienced in DUI cases is critical to a successful defense against a DUI charge.
What is Colorado’s Maximum Threshold for Blood Alcohol Level?
In Colorado, driving under the influence per se means the content of your blood or breath tests with a blood alcohol content level above the legal limit of .080 or higher. You can also be charged with DUI for driving under the influence of drugs, prescription medications, or a combination of any of these intoxicants.
Colorado law makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .080 or higher, making the charge a DUI Per Se.
Some important things to note are:
- The authorities may charge you with DUI even if your test is below .080.
- You may face a DUI charge if you refuse to take a chemical test while showing signs of impairment to the police officer or being under the influence.
- If you are “substantially incapable” of safely operating a vehicle (motorized or otherwise) due to some type of substance, you are guilty of DUI.
Colorado DUI laws also include a Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) statute, which makes driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both illegal if you are even slightly impaired.
What Are the Potential Consequences of a DUI Charge?
You can find the penalties for DUI and DWAI in the Colorado Revised Statutes in Sections 42-4-1301, 42-4-1307, 42-2-125, 42-2-126, and 42-2-127. The statutes provide criminal penalties, such as fines, court costs, imprisonment, community service, and alcohol education classes.
The law also provides administrative penalties through the Department of Motor Vehicles, such as suspension or revocation of a driver’s license due to alcohol offenses or excessive driver’s points in addition to the criminal consequences
What Are Examples of Potential DUI and DWAI Penalties?
Conviction of a first DWAI charge may mean the following:
- Jail term of two to 180 days
- Probation of up to two years,
- Monetary fines of $200–$500,
- 24-48 hours of community service
- Administrative penalties of eight points on your driving record (but no driver’s license suspension unless your BAC was above 0.08%)
The first conviction under a DUI charge faces the following:
- Possible jail term from five days to one year
- Probation of up to two years,
- Monetary fines from $600–$1,000,
- 48-96 hours of community service
- Administrative penalties of nine months of driver’s license suspension
- 12 points on your driving record, which also results in a suspension
Administrative and criminal penalties increase for subsequent convictions of persistent drunk drivers. The DMV administrative sentence for a DUI charge can result in your driver’s license suspension even if found not guilty.
What Do You Risk Losing?
The law does not permit drivers to expunge (remove) a conviction of a DUI or DWAI in Colorado. The conviction becomes a part of the permanent record.
In addition to the suspension or revocation of driving privileges for DUI, it’s essential to understand that a DUI will appear forever on a criminal background check in Colorado. And a court can’t ever seal your DUI conviction.
Certain professions—teaching, law enforcement, and medical personnel, among others—do not employ candidates with a DUI on their records. The charges may also impact custody rights if a parent’s DUI convictions show evidence of alcohol or drug addiction.
In Colorado, a person convicted of a felony, including a felony DUI, may not knowingly possess firearms or weapons.
What Are Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in Colorado DUIs?
A driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.15% or higher faces an aggravated DUI charge.
You also face aggravated DUI charges and penalties if the incident involves any of the following:
- Includes evidence of careless or reckless driving
- Results in an accident
- Occurs with children in the car
- If the driver has previous DUI convictions.
If a passenger in the car was a child under age 16, the charges might be upgraded to include child abuse, even if the child is not physically harmed. Child abuse charges may increase the potential jail time, impacting child custody or other social services matters.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer for a DUI Charge?
It does not matter if you have or do not have aggravating factors in your DUI or DWAI case; you need a lawyer.
You face severe penalties and repercussions once charges are filed, so there is only one smart course of action. Consult with an attorney who has experience in defending DUI cases. An attorney will work vigorously on your behalf to protect your rights under the law, reduce penalties, and minimize any aggravating factors.
Call today to discuss your situation with a legal team that understands DUI laws and will guide you on your best path forward.