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Colorado DUI Statute – § 42-4-1301 C.R.S.

Posted on April 30, 2023 in

Driving under the influence can have tragic consequences, and the law in Colorado treats it very seriously. If you have been charged with a DUI, it is vital that you are well informed. Colorado DUI statute § 42-4-1301 C.R.S. defines DUI, its legal penalties if convicted, and the process for prosecution.

Colorado DUI Defined

The state of Colorado defines DUI in § 42-4-1301 C.R.S. as a person driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both to a degree of impairment that makes them unable to operate an automobile safely. If there is a combination of drugs and alcohol, the statute applies.

Whether a driver demonstrates symptoms of impairment or not, if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limit of 0.08% or higher, they will be charged with a DUI and considered legally impaired. This falls under the DUI per se law.

Penalties for DUI Convictions in Colorado

Colorado enforces steep penalties for DUIs in an effort to deter drivers from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The consequences for driving under the influence become steeper with each subsequent conviction. Listed below are the penalties faced in Colorado for a DUI charge:

  • First offense: If convicted, the defendant would be required to pay fines of $600 to $1,000 and spend a minimum of five days in jail, with the possibility of a one-year sentence. First-time offenders also are required to perform at least 48 hours of community service and to complete an alcohol education and treatment program.
  • Second offense: Those convicted of a second DUI must pay fines between $600 and $1,500 with a mandatory sentence of 10 days in jail. They could be sentenced to up to a year in jail. Colorado law mandates they serve 60 hours of community service and attend a mandatory program for alcohol education and treatment.
  • Third offense: If convicted a third time of DUI, fines range from $600 to $1,500. Third-time offenders must spend a minimum of 60 days in jail but with the possibility of up to a year. The law requires them to serve a minimum of 96 hours of community service and mandatory attendance of an alcohol education and treatment class.
  • Fourth offense: When convicted of a fourth offense, penalties become much steeper. Fines between $2,000 and $500,000 must be paid. If convicted, there is a mandatory two-year jail sentence with the possibility of up to six years behind bars. Also required is the mandatory drug and alcohol treatment program, and 120 hours of community service must be served.

With any DUI charge, your license may be suspended or revoked, and you may be required to use an ignition interlock device.

DUI Legal Process for Prosecution in Colorado

Drivers who are driving erratically or demonstrating signs of driving under the influence can be stopped by law enforcement, who will then administer sobriety tests. These include field sobriety tests as well as breathalyzer tests. Breathalyzer tests will determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If it exceeds the legal limit of 0.08%, then they will be taken into custody.

Upon being taken into custody, they will then be transported to the police station or hospital so that a blood test can be administered. Blood tests confirming a BAC of 0.08% or higher will then be charged with a DUI. The next step is appearing in court to face the charges mounted against them.

At trial, the prosecution will present the evidence gathered against the defendant. These might include the following:

  • Field sobriety test results
  • Breathalyzer test results
  • Blood tests showing the blood alcohol concentration of the driver was over the legal limit.

All of the evidence they present will be to prove that the driver was driving while impaired.

The defense

The defense will typically present evidence to show that the driver was not impaired. Some typical strategies the defense might present to prove the driver should not be convicted are as follows:

  • The defense team may challenge the validity of the traffic stop.
  • The accuracy of the field sobriety tests may come into question.
  • Chemical tests might be challenged.
  • A “rising blood alcohol content” argument might be made.

Consequences for a DUI in Colorado

Other than the legal consequences for a Colorado DUI, if convicted, there are social, economic, and other long-lasting effects. Some of the consequences you may face, aside from those under the law, are as follows:

  • Loss of driving privileges can lead to difficulty garnering employment, taking care of family matters, and having a life outside of the home.
  • It can be difficult to maintain employment, as most employers are unwilling to hold a job for someone who is doing time.
  • Securing housing can be challenging. Many landlords run background checks on their potential tenants. They often will choose tenants without a criminal record since they pose less risk.
  • Career options may be limited, especially if they include driving. When multiple applicants are competing for a job, background checks turning up criminal convictions can be the deciding factor.
  • Insurance companies can refuse coverage to a policyholder who has been convicted of a DUI. If they do offer coverage, it can be at a ridiculously high premium.
  • If child custody is in question, a DUI could be an unfavorable strike against the parent with the DUI.
  • Finances can become tricky after a DUI. Legal fees and fines can be expensive, and if time is spent in jail, it can be challenging to keep the bills paid during that time.

There are many complications that drivers who have been convicted of driving under the influence face. It is crucial to have a Colorado DUI lawyer beside them to fight the life-altering charges.

Colorado DUI Statute § 42-4-1301 C.R.S.

Colorado DUI Statute § 42-4-1301 C.R.S. comprehensively outlines how DUIs are defined and penalized and the process for prosecuting them in Colorado. If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, immediately contact a Colorado DUI lawyer from Flesch and Beck Law.

Our experienced legal team will ensure that you understand your options and that your rights are protected. We will gather evidence and implement an effective legal strategy so that we can fight tenaciously for your freedom.

We are DUI attorneys, but we hope you will be safe and never need us. It is much preferable that you have a designated driver or use a rideshare company if you plan to drink so that you arrive safely and without incident to your destination.