Though more prevalent in some age groups, drunk driving occurs across all demographics. Rich and poor people, young and old, members of every ethnic group are regularly arrested and prosecuted for DUIs.
The ubiquity of drunk driving, however, should not lead you to consider a DUI a minor offense. On the contrary, the state of Colorado prosecutes DUIs harshly. A conviction for a DUI offense can have a dramatic effect on your freedom, future career prospects, and wallet.
Colorado DUI Laws
Like every other state in the US, Colorado abides by the national .08% BAC limit. Unlike other states, however, Colorado law also retains the ability to prosecute drivers under the legal limit.
If an officer judges your ability to be impaired, and you have a BAC higher than .05% but
lower than .08%, you can face a DWAI charge—short for driving while ability impaired.
Since the legalization of recreational marijuana use, it’s worth noting that the state also imposes a legal limit on the amount of marijuana in your system when driving as well.
Anyone driving with 5 nanograms or more of THC per milliliter in whole blood can be arrested for a DUI.
The presence of other drugs in your system—including a number of prescription drugs—can also lead to a DUI charge
Penalties for DUIs
The penalties for driving while intoxicated increase with the number of past offenses. It’s important to note that past DWAIs on your record are considered the same as past DUIs in the eyes of Colorado law. For example, if you had one DWAI on your record and you were charged with a DUI, you would face the same penalties as someone arrested for their second DUI.
DUIs can result in administrative penalties, criminal charges, and a number of fines.
Administrative Penalties. A first offense DUI will result in an automatic 9-month suspension of your driver’s license and 12 points on your driving record. A second offense will result in a 12-month suspension, and a third comes with a suspension of 24 months.
Criminal Penalties. For a first conviction of a DUI offense, the criminal penalty is 5 days to one year in jail and a $200 to $500 fine. Offenders are often given the opportunity to perform work release in lieu of a jail sentence. Though jail time is rare for first offenders, it is mandatory if they test at .20% BAC or higher.
The criminal penalties only increase with subsequent DUIs. You can find a full list of the specific penalties associated with a 3rd, 4th, and further offenses on the Colorado portion of DMV.org.
Most people convicted of a DUI will also have to perform community service. The amount will be dependent on the number of prior offenses. A first offense can result in a sentence of community service of up to 96 hours.
Real Cost of A DUI Conviction: Fines and Fees
In addition to the high criminal fines associated with a DUI, those convicted can face a number of costs that can add up to over $10,000 dollars, according to a brochure created by CODOT.
The highest cost for the majority of individuals who are convicted of a DUI will be the increase in their insurance rates. How much your insurance will actually rise depends a number of factors, including your age and your insurance company’s policies.
The average increase for a DUI conviction in Colorado has been estimated at $565 by CarInsurance.com, or a 52% increase over the average rate for non-DUI drivers. This increase can last anywhere from 5 to 12 years—adding thousands to your insurance rate over time.
A DUI arrest is not a conviction, however. With the assistance of an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney who has successfully handled these kinds of cases in the past, you have the best chance of getting a positive outcome.