Good news for Colorado drivers: the percentage of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities fell by more than 53 percent from 2002 to 2012. The bad news: alcohol-impaired driving killed 133 people in 2012. These and other statistics reported by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility reveal that drunk driving is still an issue in Colorado. Hopefully, after learning about potential penalties, more Coloradans will get sober rides instead of driving intoxicated.
First Conviction DUI Penalties in Colorado
Drivers who are 21 or older can be charged with DUI if their blood-alcohol content is at least 0.08 percent. If convicted, a first-time offender will have his or her driver’s license revoked for nine months and have to pay fines of $600 to $1,000. Additional potential penalties for an initial DUI conviction include mandatory participation in an alcohol education program, up to 96 hours of community service, and as long as one year in jail.
Upon finding an individual guilty of DUI, the court may also require the installation of ignition interlock device. The driver must breathe into the device before attempting to start the vehicle and periodically while driving. If blood-alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the pre-determined limit, the device will shut off the ignition and the car will not start until measured BAC falls below the threshold.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, a first-time DUI offender should be prepared to pay more than $10,000 if convicted. This includes charges for a DUI lawyer, increased insurance premiums, driver license reinstatement fee, court costs, and probation supervision fees. The Colorado Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund was established to benefit adults and children with traumatic brain injuries and is partially funded by DUI conviction surcharges.
Underage DUI in Colorado
While drivers 21 or older must have a 0.08 percent or higher BAC to be charged with DUI in Colorado, drivers who are under 21 can be charged with underage DUI if their BAC is at least 0.02 percent. The first DUI conviction for an underage driver results in a three-month suspension of the driver license, community service, fines, and other penalties. If BAC exceeds 0.05 percent, the underage driver is penalized as an adult.
Underage drivers may find themselves facing additional charges if they are found in possession of alcohol or distributed it to other passengers whose BAC exceeds the legal limit. The arresting officer may charge the driver with other observed moving violations or vehicle maintenance violations. Underage drivers whose actions result in death of another individual face the harshest penalties.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.