There are many myths and misconceptions out there about DUIs. If you have questions about Colorado’s regulations on driving under the influence, do not rely on what your friends or family have told you, and do not expect what you have seen in TV and movies to be accurate. It is important that you get your information from someone with in-depth knowledge of this field of law.
The following is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about Colorado’s DUI laws:
Q: In Colorado, what Blood Alcohol Content level is considered too drunk to drive?
A lot of people will tell you that the answer to this is simple – .08 percent. However, as with so many legal matters, the answer is more complicated.
It’s true that if you are 21 or over, then your Blood Alcohol Content must be at least .08 percent if you are to be charged with Driving Under the Influence. But here are two important things that many people don’t realize:
1) If you’re under 21, then having a Blood Alcohol Content level of just .02 percent is enough for a DUI charge.
2) Even if you’re 21 or over, you can get into legal trouble if you are driving when your Blood Alcohol Content is just .05 percent. There is a criminal offense called Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), and it refers to when someone drives with a Blood Alcohol Content level between .05 percent and .08 percent. A DWAI is not as severe as a DUI, but it can still result in jail time, and/or a suspension of your license.
Q: If I’m guilty of a DUI, will I go to jail?
It’s very possible. If you plead guilty to a DUI, or you are found guilty of a DUI, then the minimum sentence will involve jail time.
Let’s say you have the best possible circumstances for someone guilty of a DUI. This would mean that it’s your first offense, and your Blood Alcohol Content level was less than .2 percent. Even in that case, the minimum sentence you can receive involves 5 days in jail.
However, this jail time can be suspended, if you pay for an approved DUI treatment and education program, and complete it. This is only an option if the court allows it.
Keep in mind, too, that there are penalties for DUIs and DWAIs that go well beyond jail time, such as fees and public service.
Q: If I’m guilty of a DUI, will I lose my license?
Yes. If you plead guilty to a DUI, or you are found guilty of a DUI, then your license will be revoked.
This does not necessarily mean that it will be revoked permanently. License suspensions for DUI offenses often range from 9 months to 2 years.
Your license can be revoked even if the criminal charges against you are dropped, or if you are found not guilty at trial. When you are arrested for a DUI charge, your license can be revoked by the DMV, and the DMV’s process is separate from the Colorado criminal justice system’s process.
If you are arrested for a DUI charge, you will have the chance to request a DMV hearing, in which a judge will consider the evidence against you, and determine whether your license will be revoked. The outcome of this hearing is unrelated to the criminal charges filed against you.
Q: If the police want to test my Blood Alcohol Content, should I let them?
Yes. If you refuse to let the police test your breath or blood, then your license will be suspended for a year. Colorado has an “Expressed Consent” law, which states that anyone who drives in the state has expressed their consent to submit to a test to determine their Blood Alcohol Content level.
This does not mean, however, that you must consent to a roadside breath test, or any other type of roadside sobriety test. You are within your rights to refuse such tests.
Q: If I’ve been accused of driving under the influence, is it worth it to hire a lawyer?
Yes. A DUI could result in months of jail time. Even if you avoid jail, there are many potentially life-threatening punishments for DUIs. For example, losing your drivers license for an extended period of time could have devastating effects on your career. You owe it to yourself to find someone who will provide you with the best possible legal defense.