The state of Colorado has two terms for charges of driving while intoxicated: DUI, which stands for “driving under the influence,” and DWAI, or “driving while ability impaired.” DUI normally includes people who have been drinking and driving, but it could also include those who have taken other drugs that affect driving skills. The blood alcohol content for driving under the influence is .08 percent. DWAI is used to identify drivers who have a blood-alcohol content that is greater than .05 percent but less than .08 percent. It is typically reserved for those who may have taken prescription medications or liquids that, while legal, could impact one’s ability to drive. Drivers under the age of 21 will receive a DUI charge if the blood alcohol level is .02 percent or greater. There is also an enhanced level, or aggravated blood alcohol content, that is .17 percent.
Colorado Implied Consent
Colorado DUI laws include an implied consent statute, which means drivers are required to submit to a chemical test if they are pulled over under the suspicion of driving while intoxicated. If you don’t submit to the test, then you will be fined. The amount of the fine will be based on how many charges you have and if there are any aggravating factors that led to the charge. Your license will also be automatically suspended. There are different lengths of time for which your license can be suspended. This is again based on the number of prior charges. For each driving offense, the same amount of time. For example, the first offense results in the license being suspended for one year or the third offense for three years.
Pleading A Lower Charge and Felonies
Defendants may have the option to plead to a lesser charge called “wet reckless.” If the charge involves alcohol, then, based on Colorado DUI Laws, it could be reduced to reckless driving instead of driving while intoxicated. Legislators are currently looking at trying to get some DUI charges passed as felonies. However, if you are convicted of a DUI in the state of Colorado, it is considered a Class II traffic misdemeanor until the legislation is passed. A felony charge would apply to those who have multiple DUI charges, and those who only have one or two would still fall under the misdemeanor category. The reason the felony charge has not been passed is because legislators believe the jails would become overcrowded with the number of people who receive convictions. If you receive a DUI, you could be placed in jail for three to 18 months as well as face fines ranging from $250 to $1,000.
If you have been charged with a DUI, consult an attorney to find out if the charges can be lowered. The attorney may be able to help in plea bargaining so that you could get your license back sooner than the required length of time if you attend classes or agree to an ignition interlock device being installed in your car. The ignition interlock device measures your blood alcohol content and will lock the ignition until the level is lowered.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In Colorado?
Alcohol-related driving offenses are punished very severely in Colorado. Among the penalties, a person may face are jail time, fines, loss of driving privileges, mandatory compliance with ignition interlock law and required substance abuse education.
Law enforcement officials in Colorado rely largely on breath and blood tests to determine a motorist’s level of intoxication. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a primary determining factor in the charges brought against individuals. Offenses include:
- Driving under the influence (DUI). A DUI is typically charged when a person has a BAC of .08 percent or higher.
- Driving while ability impaired (DWAI). A charge of DUI may be brought if a police officer witnesses signs of impairment and a person’s BAC is equal to or greater than .05 percent while being less than .08 percent.
- Under Age Drinking Driving (UDD). People under 21 may be charged with UDD for having a BAC equal to or greater than .02 percent and less than .05 percent – at which point the state’s standard adult charges may be applied.
In addition to these designations, applicable laws establish a legal alcohol limit of .04 percent for commercial drivers who operate buses, delivery trucks, and other vehicles.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In Colorado
Colorado laws incentivize people convicted of alcohol-related driving offenses to install an ignition interlock device (IID). Taking this step can enable individuals with all number of offenses to shorten the duration of a driver’s license suspension.
Ignition interlock devices:
- Won’t allow a person to start a vehicle without submitting a passing breath test
- Conduct ongoing breath tests as a motorist travels, assessments meant to prevent a person from drinking alcohol while behind the wheel.
- Must be installed and monitored by a state-approved vendor at a vehicle owner’s expense
It’s important for people installing an ignition interlock device to understand that failed breath tests can trigger additional penalties.
Colorado DUI Penalties
In Colorado, drivers can be convicted of two different levels of alcohol-related driving offenses. A DUI in Colorado is determined when a driver has a blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC, of .08 percent or greater. A DUI is considered the more serious of the two alcohol-related driving offenses and results in several potentially severe Colorado DUI penalties.
The other DUI-related offense of driving while ability is impaired by alcohol or drugs, or DWAI, occurs when a driver’s BAC registers between .05 percent and .07 percent.
Colorado has an express consent law, which means that a driver has automatically given his or her express consent to be administered a chemical test by simply being behind the wheel of a vehicle. An officer can administer a chemical test if they suspect a driver of operating a vehicle after drinking. If a driver refuses to submit to a test, his or her license will be revoked for one year for a first offense, two years for a second offense and three years for a third offense.
Colorado has a zero-tolerance law in place for drivers under the age of 21, who are considered minors. If drivers younger than 21 years old have a BAC of between .02 and .08 percent, they will automatically have their license revoked.
Colorado DUI Penalties for a 1st Conviction
A first DUI conviction results in jail time ranging from five days to one year, a fine between $600 and $1,000, a license suspension period of nine months, 12 points on one’s record and between 48 and 96 hours of public service. Jail time may be suspended if the driver participates in an approved alcohol treatment program.
Colorado DUI Penalties for a 2nd Conviction
A second DUI conviction results in jail time ranging from 90 days to one year, a fine of $1,000 to $1,500, license suspension for one year, 12 points on the person’s driving record and 60 to 120 hours of public service. The individual may have to have an ignition interlock device installed prior to having his or her license reinstated if the conviction is within five years of a previous DUI.
Colorado DUI Penalties for a 3rd Conviction
A third DUI conviction results in jail time ranging from 70 days to one year, a fine of between $900 and $1,500, license suspension for two years, 12 points toward license suspension and 56 to 112 hours of public service. The driver will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed prior to his or her license reinstatement.
Colorado DWAI Penalties
A first DWAI conviction entails a jail sentence ranging from 48 hours to 180 days, a fine of $200 to $500, eight points toward license suspension and 24 to 48 hours of public service.
A second DWAI conviction will result in jail time of 90 days to one year, a fine ranging from $1,000 to $1,500, one year of license suspension, 12 points toward license suspension and 60 to 120 hours of public service.
After a third DWAI conviction, one will spend 45 days to one year in jail, pay a fine of $600 to $1,000, have his or her license suspended for two years and perform 48 to 96 hours of public service.