Types of DUI Charges In Colorado
As an experienced Colorado DUI lawyer, I have encountered numerous types of DUI charges in this state. Each charge has its unique set of circumstances and penalties, and understanding these differences is critical for navigating the legal system effectively. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the various categories of DUI charges in Colorado and discuss the consequences associated with each. By providing this information, we aim to help those facing DUI charges make informed decisions and understand the importance of seeking skilled legal representation.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Standard DUI Charges
In Colorado, the most common type of DUI charge involves operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. Additionally, drivers can be charged with a standard DUI if they are impaired by drugs, even if their BAC is below the legal limit.
First-time offenders face several potential penalties, including a maximum of one year in jail, fines reaching $1,000, and a license suspension lasting up to nine months. The consequences increase for subsequent offenses, with harsher jail sentences, larger fines, and longer license suspensions.
Aggravated DUI Charges
An aggravated DUI charge is brought against drivers who demonstrate particularly reckless behavior while intoxicated. Examples include having a BAC of 0.15 or above, causing a severe accident, or accumulating multiple DUI offenses within a short timeframe.
The penalties for aggravated DUI charges are more severe than those associated with standard DUI offenses. Convicted drivers can expect longer jail sentences, increased fines, and extended license suspensions or revocations.
DUI with Child Endangerment
If an intoxicated driver is found with a minor in the vehicle, they may face a separate charge for child endangerment. This offense carries additional penalties, such as extra jail time, higher fines, and mandatory child safety courses.
The presence of a minor in the vehicle during a DUI incident can significantly impact the severity of the charges and the consequences faced by the driver.
Chemical Test Refusal
Colorado’s implied consent law states that by operating a motor vehicle, drivers automatically give their consent to submit to a chemical test if requested by law enforcement. Refusing a chemical test results in a separate charge with added penalties, including a one-year license revocation for first-time refusals, fines, and mandatory alcohol education or treatment programs.
Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI)
A lesser offense than a standard DUI, a DWAI charge occurs when a driver’s BAC is between .05 and .08, or if they are impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol.
First-time DWAI offenders face potential penalties such as up to 180 days in jail, fines reaching $500, and a license suspension lasting up to three months. Like standard DUI offenses, consequences for subsequent DWAI offenses are more severe.
DWAI and DUI Differences
While both DUI and DWAI charges involve operating a vehicle under the influence, DWAI is considered a lesser offense because it applies to drivers with lower BAC levels or who are impaired by drugs. The penalties for DWAI are generally less severe than those for DUI charges.
Zero Tolerance Law
Colorado has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21 who operate a vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. An underage DUI charge can result in a license suspension of up to one year, fines up to $1,000, and mandatory alcohol education or treatment programs.
Standard DUI Charges for Minors
It is important to note that drivers under the age of 21 can also face standard DUI charges if their BAC is .08 or higher. In such cases, they will be subject to the same penalties as an adult, including potential jail time, fines, and license suspension.