Drunk Driving & DWAI FAQ

Drunk driving and DWAI FAQ

Under Colorado law, a driver of a motor vehicle who is believed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while ability is impaired (DWAI).

With over 25 years of experience in criminal defense, the Law Office of James Colgan offers personalized, confidential communications 24/7 with an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer in Denver.

What is the legal limit in Colorado?

 The legal limit is .08, however drivers under the legal drinking age of 21 can be charged with underage drinking and driving (UDD) when their breath-alcohol content is between .02 and .05.

Colorado is among the state’s that also have created a law to penalize motorists who test below the legal limit. Those who test between .05 and .08 are presumed to be driving with ability impaired (DWAI). A person whose BAC is 0.08 or more at the time of driving or within two hours after driving commits DUI per se, which means you are automatically deemed guilty by law enforcement.

What is the penalty for a first offense DUI in Colorado?

A conviction for DUI comes with a wide range of penalties and costs. In fact, it is estimated that a conviction will cost more than $10,000 once increased insurance premiums and other consequences are included.

Common consequences of a first offense include:

  • A misdemeanor criminal record,
  • Five days – one (1) year in jail,
  • A fine of up to $1,000,
  • 12 points on your Colorado DMV driving record,
  • A 9-month DMV revocation of your driving privilege,
  • Up to 96 hours of community service,
  • Mandatory alcohol education classes, and
  • Increased insurance costs.

Can I be convicted with a BAC under .08?

Yes. A BAC limit of .05-.08 is enough to convict you of DWAI in Colorado. Additionally, you may be convicted of DUI with a BAC under .08 if it can be shown you were unable to drive safely.

What are the defenses to DUI in Colorado?

There are many legitimate defenses. Drunk driving is the most frequent serious misdemeanor charge filed in the state of Colorado and a primary generator of revenue and  court fees used to support municipal court systems. Law enforcement and the courts count on you pleading guilty. Experienced Denver DUI defense lawyers know that is a mistake. The simple act of hiring a lawyer is often enough to reduce the penalties. And there are many legitimate defenses, including challenging probable cause for the step, challenging the arrest, challenging the results of BAC testing, challenging the allegations that you were operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner,  and challenging the training or conduct of officers involved in your testing or arrest. .

Should I cooperate with field sobriety and BAC testing?

Field sobriety tests, such as standing on one leg and the walk-and-turn, are difficult for many sober people to perform correctly. The officer is looking to make you look guilty on dash or body camera, and collecting probable cause for your arrest. You are not obligated to participate and there is no reason to do so. However, refusal will likely result in arrest. But so, too, will failing in the opinion of an officer (guess how often they think someone passes?)

Likewise, there is no law requiring you to take a portable breathalyzer at the scene. However, once arrested for suspicion of DUI, you are required to cooperate with breath, blood or urine testing. Our DUI defense lawyers in Denver are often asked about whether a motorist should do so.

Refusal to take the test will deny the state a key piece of evidence used to convict you, and may well result in your not being convicted of the charges. This could save you from going to jail. However, in most other ways, you will be punished as if guilty, regardless of the outcome of your criminal case. Refusal to take the test is punishable by license suspension of one year (for first offense, longer for subsequent offenses), mandatory drug and alcohol counseling, and many of the other consequences you would have faced if convicted.

Is it worth fighting a DUI charge?

Yes. As stated above, hiring a Denver drunk driving defense lawyer may be enough to reduce the penalties. A first offense is the easiest to beat, or to win a reduction of the charges. And arrest or conviction of a subsequent offense may result in far more serious charges. While you may not plan to ever be convicted again, those with a DUI on their record are often surprised at how frequently they are targeted and stopped by law enforcement.

Call drunk driving defense lawyer James Colgan for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call 720-909-6425 today.

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