Challenging Drunk Driving Charges in Colorado
It is a crime in Colorado to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the legal limit. State laws are tough on DUI. Drivers with a BAC of only .05% to .08% can be charged with driving while ability impaired (DWAI). With a BAC of .08% or higher, you can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) per se, even if you were unimpaired and driving safely. Criminal and administrative penalties for all DUI offenses become more severe with each subsequent offense. An experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer can help you challenge these charges.
Penalties for DUI Conviction
Conviction of a DUI offense carries both administrative and criminal penalties. Administrative penalties involve driver’s license suspension for a period of nine months for a first offense, 12 months for a second offense, or 24 months for a third or subsequent offense with a BAC of .08% or higher. Severity of criminal penalties can depend on various factors, including any previous DUI convictions, BAC levels, and whether the defendant was under the age of 21.
- First offense DWAI (misdemeanor): Jail time of two to 180 days, a fine of $200 to $500, and 24 to 48 hours community or public service.
- First offense DUI or DUI per se (misdemeanor): Five days to one year in jail, a fine of $600 to $1,000, and 48 to 96 hours of public service.
- Second offense DWAI or DUI (misdemeanor): Jail time of 10 days to one year, a fine of $600 to $1,500, and 48 to 120 public service hours.
- Third offense DWAI or DUI (misdemeanor): 60 days to one year in jail, a fine of $600 to $1,500, and 48 to 120 hours of public service.
- Fourth or subsequent DWAI or DUI (Class 4 felony): Two to six years imprisonment, three years of parole, and 48 to 120 hours of public service.
- First offense under 21 drinking and driving with BAC at least .02% but less than .05% (Class A traffic infraction): Fine of $15 to $100 and up to 24 hours public service.
- Second or subsequent offense under 21 drinking and driving with BAC at least .02% but less than .05% (Class 2 traffic misdemeanor): 10 to 90 days in jail, fine of $150 to $300, and up to 24 hours public service.
Legal Defenses Against DUI
There are many possible defenses a Colorado criminal defense lawyer could raise against DUI. The most applicable defenses will depend on the circumstances of your case. Common defenses against DUI/DWAI charges include the following:
- Police had no probable cause for the traffic stop.
- Your Miranda rights were not read to you.
- Field sobriety tests were incorrectly administered.
- The sobriety checkpoint was unconstitutional.
- Your diet or a medical condition caused a false BAC result. (This can happen with diabetes, hypoglycemia, acid reflux, and high protein diets.)
- Breath or blood testing equipment was defective, or tests were improperly administered.
- Independent testing of your blood sample produced inconsistent results.
- Rising blood alcohol levels: Your BAC was under the legal limit while you were driving, but it continued to rise at the time of blood alcohol testing.
- Other explanations exist for your physical symptoms or driving conduct.
- You were not driving the vehicle.
At Welsh Law, LLC, we are passionate about the law and dedicated to our clients. We use our expertise to fight for our clients’ best interests in DUI cases and in all legal matters. If you are facing DUI or DWAI charges in Colorado, call us at (720) 836-1777 to schedule a free consultation. We can explain your options under the law.