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  • DUI & DWI in Colorado

    Defining the Crime

    Colorado has two levels of alcohol-related driving offenses, and both are based on the measurement of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in the body.

    • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI).
    • Driving While Ability is Impaired (DWAI).

    Colorado BAC Limits

    Simply put, blood alcohol concentration is how much alcohol is pulsing through your blood after you drink.

    The legal limit BAC for drivers over 21 years old is 0.08%, while the limit for drivers under 21 years old is 0.02%.

    The BAC limit for DWAI is 0.05%.

    The Penalties

    DWAI 1st Offense―8 points toward license suspension; $200 to $500 fine; up to 180 days in jail; up to 48 hours community service.

    DUI First Offense―License revocation for 9 months; $600 to $1,000 fine; up to 1 year in jail; up to 96 hours community service; alcohol education.

    The penalties increase substantially for repeated offenses and, in some cases, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your car. That means your car won't even turn on if the device detects a certain percentage of alcohol in your breath, and you could face penalties for attempting to start the car after drinking.

    The Arrest

    • If you fail the roadside sobriety test, which could entail anything from standing on one leg while answering a barrage of questions to touching your nose and walking a straight line, you will be read your rights.
    • You will be handcuffed and taken to a city or county jail.
    • A tow truck will take your car and impound it.

    The Cost of Keeping the Keys

    The CDOT offers a line item assessment in an informative brochure of what a DUI costs the individual charged with a first offense. The total comes to over $10,000 and includes lawyer fees, rising insurance rates, fees to get a license back, probation supervision fees, all the way down to the brain injury surcharge and court costs. This figure is based on the minimum fine. It is easy to see that drinking and driving is not worth any cost.

    Laws on the Book

    Express Consent Law: By operating a motor vehicle in the state of Colorado you are automatically giving "express consent" or granting permission to be administered a chemical test by breath, blood, or urine to measure your blood alcohol content. If a law enforcement officer requires you to take a test because of suspected drinking and driving and you refuse, your license will be revoked at that point for one year.

    Zero Tolerance: Drivers under 21 years old with a BAC between .02% and .08% face automatic revocation of their license.

    Buy and Possess: If you are under 21 years old and get caught with alcohol in the vehicle, you will have your license revoked.

    For more information on DUIs and BAC consult the Colorado Driver Handbook or visit the Department of Transportation website.

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