No one wants to face criminal charges, whether it has to do with theft, assault, or driving while intoxicated. While all charges have specific penalties and drawbacks, DUI charges and convictions can immediately have a serious negative impact on your life. Among the many penalties issued by the state of Colorado, a DUI conviction could take away your ability to drive for months at a time.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. If you are charged with DUI, you should learn about all aspects of Colorado’s DUI laws. The more you know about DUI charges, the better you can defend yourself and avoid the state’s harshest penalties.
What Is “DUI” Under the Laws of Colorado?
Each state has specific terms and laws regarding “what counts” as a DUI. In Colorado, you can be convicted for driving under the influence on the sole evidence that you were behind the wheel with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher.
Your blood alcohol content may vary based on many factors, and the same amount of drinks could affect your neighbor or partner very differently than they affect you.
Additional charges may apply if your BAC reaches .17. Moreover, if you are under the age of 21, you could be charged for driving with a BAC as low as .02. After all, any underage alcohol consumption is against the law.
It’s also important to understand that DUI charges apply whether you are driving a car or any other type of motor vehicle. Peace officers can pull you over if you show any signs of driving under the influence.
If you refuse chemical testing, automatic penalties apply. Colorado has an “implied consent law” that prevents drivers from using their Fifth Amendment rights to avoid DUI charges.
However, this law does not apply to Field Sobriety Tests or portable breath tests. Moreover, if peace officers engage in an unlawful arrest, you and your lawyer could use this as a defense strategy.
How Serious Are Colorado Charges?
You may have seen news recently about stricter laws for felony DUI offenders. If someone is convicted of a felony DUI, they are now required to spend time behind bars, even if they are granted probation. Legislation recommends 90 days behind bars.
This legislation came out of inconsistencies in how judges were penalizing repeat offenders. With this information out in the open now, it is less likely that judges will let repeat offenders off.
You don’t have to worry quite as much if you are only facing your first or second charge, though. These charges are misdemeanors, unless serious aggravated factors are present. Regular DUIs don’t become a felony in Colorado until you have hit your fourth charge.
In the meantime, however, penalties do increase for a second and third conviction, which is why it is so important to fight each charge with equal vigor.
Penalties for DUI Convictions in Colorado
Every case is different, but the penalties for DUI offenses are determined based on Colorado’s guidelines.
If you are found guilty on a first DUI offense, you could face the following penalties:
- License suspension for a minimum of nine months
- Ignition interlock device installation (this penalty is mandatory for repeat offenders)
- Completion of alcohol education and treatment programs
- Jail time (including a minimum of five days behind bars)
There Are Defenses Available for DUI Charges in Colorado
Remember, an arrest or charge is not a conviction. You can recruit the help of a Colorado DUI lawyer to build a strategy that helps you fight charges.
Even if you have been charged and prosecutors have evidence that you blew over a .08, you may not have to face any penalties. Dropped charges can lead to a clean record. Do your best to fight each and every DUI charge that you might be faced with – it’s an investment in your future.
About the Author:
Since 2005, Jeffrey L. Weeden has been practicing criminal defense law in Colorado and has helped countless clients protect their rights and freedoms as a respected, caring, hard-nosed criminal defense attorney. Over the course of his career, Mr. Weeden’s work has been recognized in numerous ways, including being named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers list by The National Trial Lawyers, earning a 10.0 “Suberb” Avvo rating, receiving Martindale-Hubbard’s highest peer review rating — AV Preeminent, and being asked to speak on several issues of interest to the legal community. Additionally, he is someone who cares deeply about his community and those in need, and is an active member of a number of professional legal organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center and Law Firm Pro Bono Coordinators.