Alcohol and other drugs severely impair your ability to drive safely. They negatively affect coordination, good judgment, reaction time, and focus. The outcome of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be devastating to the person who chose to drive, as well as any other drivers or pedestrians near them. For this reason, Colorado has strict DUI laws and harsh penalties to help deter drivers from driving under the influence. Fighting any charge associated with violating these laws requires the skills of a seasoned Denver DUI Lawyer.
If you are facing a DUI or DWAI charge, the right way to fight the charges begins with understanding the laws. Multiple laws outline driving under the influence:
There are two main categories of charges applicable to driving while impaired: DUI and DWAI.
DUI is defined as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs. There is no specific blood alcohol level required to be charged with a DUI.
Under the umbrella of DUI is DUI per se. You can be charged with DUI per se if you take a test that shows your blood alcohol content (BAC) to be higher than the legal limit of 0.08. This is applicable even if you are not showing any indicators of impaired driving.
DWAI, or driving while ability impaired, can be charged when a person over the age of 21 has a blood alcohol content of 0.05 or greater but less than 0.08. If the driver is under the age of 21, they can be charged with DWAI if their blood alcohol content is 0.02 or greater.
There are two important notes about these charges:
The legal penalties for a DUI and a DUI per se conviction are the same. Each is broken down by the number of prior offenses:
A first-offense DUI, or DUI per se, is a misdemeanor and can be punished by:
A second-offense DUI, or DUI per se, is also a misdemeanor but carries more severe penalties:
A third-offense DUI, or DUI per se, is the last misdemeanor charge. It carries the heaviest of misdemeanor penalties:
A fourth-offense DUI, or DUI per se, is charged as a Class 4 felony:
If the DUI or DUI per se results in the serious injury or death of another, there are two felonies that can be additionally charged: vehicular assault and vehicular homicide.
DWAI penalties follow the same structure as DUI penalties, increasing as the number of convictions increases. The first three offenses are charged as misdemeanors, and the fourth or additional charges will be felonies. DWAIs also introduce DVM points as a consequence. These points are used to track demerits against your license. An accumulation of 12 or more points in one year, or 18 or more points in 24 months, will result in the suspension of your license.
The severity of the DUI or DWAI charge you will face depends on the number of driving while under the influence convictions on your record. The first three offenses are charged as misdemeanors, and the fourth and subsequent offenses will be charged as felonies. There is no time limit for the accumulation of these charges.
If you do not request a DMV hearing within the 7 days following a DUI arrest, your license will be suspended automatically. This suspension will occur even if you are later found to be innocent. The only way to prevent this automatic suspension is to request a hearing in writing within the seven days following your arrest.
Under Colorado’s Express Consent Law, you are required to take a chemical test if the requesting police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that you are impaired by drugs or alcohol. A violation of this law can result in losing your license. It can also be used as evidence of guilt during a trial.
If you were convicted of a DUI in another state, Colorado will still use this conviction for the purposes of counting DUI prior convictions. If any conviction from another state would count toward the prior conviction statute in Colorado, it can be used when determining the number of prior convictions. Colorado also does not have a lookback period, so any conviction in your history can apply.
Although these laws dictate harsh penalties for those convicted, there may still be routes that an experienced attorney can take. They might be able to get your charges dismissed or reduce the penalties you face. Contact The Law Center P.C. if you were arrested for driving while under the influence to examine your options and move past this mistake.