Colorado outlaws the act of driving under the influence of substances like alcohol and drugs. This offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. It carries with it penalties that can be expensive to afford and take time away from one’s home life and family.
To avoid getting a DUI in Colorado, it is important for motorists to know what constitutes driving under the influence. They also can benefit by being aware of the legal penalties involved with committing this crime.
Driving Under the Influence in Colorado
Colorado has three definitions for the act of driving while inebriated or high. The first definition is DUI, which stands for driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or a combination of both. The second is DWAI, or driving while ability impaired by alcohol, drugs or a combination of both. The third is DUI per se, which is driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or higher.
In Colorado, it is also possible to get a DUI even if the car is not moving. If a driver is found to be in actual physical control of the vehicle, such as having the key in the ignition or motor running, while drunk or high, he or she can still be charged with a DUI.
The DUI level for commercial drivers in Colorado is 0.04 percent. This percentage is the same level used in other states and takes into consideration the risk that commercial drivers pose to the public if they drive under the influence.
The state also has laws that define driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol for minors. Drivers under the age of 21 cannot have a BAC of 0.02 or higher if they want to avoid being charged with DUI or DWAI.
If a driver’s BAC is 0.15 percent or higher at the time of his or her arrest, the driver will be designated as a persistent drunk driver and repeat offender even if it is his or her first charge. This designation applies to drivers regardless of their age in Colorado.
DUI Penalties in Colorado
Colorado penalizes DUIs with a variety of fines and jail sentences. Offenders can also be sentenced to community service and alcohol or drug awareness programs depending on their prior DUI record and the seriousness of their current infraction.
First-time DUI offenders in Colorado can be sentenced up to five days in jail and receive a fine of $600 to $1000. They can also have their drivers’ licenses suspended for up to nine months and be required to serve 48 to 96 hours of community service.
Second-time DUI offenders are sentenced to 10 days to one year in jail and ordered to pay fines ranging from $600 to $1500. Their licenses can be suspended for up to one year, and they must serve 48 to 120 hours of community service. They also can be ordered to install and use an ignition interlock device on their vehicles at their own expense for up to two years.
People convicted of a third DUI in Colorado can be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail and receive a fine of $600 to $1500. They can have their licenses suspended for up to two years and be ordered to perform 48 to 120 hours of community service. They also must use an IID on their cars for up to two years after their licenses are reinstated.
In Colorado, jail time is mandatory on the second and third DUI convictions. It can also be mandatory on a first conviction if the offender’s BAC is 0.20 percent or higher. Additional penalties for DUI can include completed court-mandated alcohol education classes and incurring 12 points on the offender’s driving records.
DWAI Penalties in Colorado
Colorado uses similar penalties to address DWAI convictions. First-time offenders for DWAI can receive two to 180 days in jail and be ordered to perform 24 to 48 hours of community service. They also receive eight points on their driving records.
Second-time DWAI convictions result int 10 days to one year in jail. Ten days is the mandatory minimum sentence for this conviction. Additional penalties are a fine of $600 to $1500, 48 to 120 hours of community service, and eight points on the driving record.
As with a DUI conviction, jail time is mandatory after a second or third offense. It is also required if the offender’s BAC is 0.20 percent or higher.
Felony DUI and DWAI in Colorado
Colorado charges a DUI as a class 4 felony if it occurs after three or more separate convictions in any U.S. state or territory for:
- DUI per se
- Vehicular homicide
- Vehicular assault
Penalties for a felony DUI or DWAI conviction in the state results in a fine of $2000 to $50,000, two to six years in a Colorado state prison, and a mandatory parole sentence of three years. Offenders also may be sentenced to mandatory alcohol education classes at their own expense.
Expressed Consent in Colorado
People who operate motor vehicles in Colorado give express consent for DUI and DWAI testing. If they refuse, they can have their drivers’ license suspended automatically for up to one year. They also must install and use an IID at their own expense for up to two years. Their refusal can be admissible in court as proof of their guilt.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious civil and criminal infraction in Colorado. People convicted of this crime can receive expensive monetary fines as well as mandatory jail sentences. They can also have their drivers’ licenses suspended and receive points on their driving record. These laws apply to both in-state drivers as well as motorists who are licensed from out-of-state.