At the Law Office of Andrew L. Bertrand, PC, we devote a substantial portion of our practice to representing clients accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in northern Colorado. Based in Fort Collins, our attorneys serve residents of Larimer, Weld, and Boulder counties, including students attending Colorado State University, University of Northern Colorado, University of Colorado in Boulder, and Front Range Community College.
Legal Limits in Colorado
Colorado law prohibits a person from driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs (DUI) or while the person's ability to drive is impaired by alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs (DWAI). Blood tests and breath tests play a significant role in the enforcement of DUI and DWAI laws. In fact, Colorado's Express Consent Law presumes that every driver agrees to take a blood, breath, saliva, or urine test if law enforcement has reasonable grounds to believe the person is driving under the influence. The legal limits are as follows:
- A person is presumed to be driving while impaired (DWAI) if a blood test or breath test shows a blood alcohol level of more than 0.05 but less than 0.08.
- A person is presumed to be driving under the influence (DUI) if a blood test or breath test shows a blood alcohol level of at least 0.08.
- A person may be classified as a persistent drunk driver and subject to greater penalties if the test shows a blood alcohol level of at least 0.17.
If you refuse to take a chemical test, your driver's license may be revoked for one year or more depending on how many times you have refused a test. However, within seven days of the incident you have the right to request an administrative hearing to determine if the Department of Motor Vehicles has the right to revoke your license. With only this small window to protect your driving privileges, it is imperative to seek the advice of a DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after refusing a chemical test.
DUI & DWAI Penalties
There are both criminal penalties and administrative penalties for drunk driving. Courts impose criminal penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and required public service, and the Colorado Department of Revenue imposes administrative penalties, including the suspension or revocation of a driver's license and the accumulation of points assessed for violations. The criminal penalties for DUI and DWAI are as follows:
- First DWAI - A first DWAI is punishable by two to 180 days in jail, $200 to $500 in fines, and 24 hours to 480 hours of public service.
- First DUI - A first DUI is punishable by five days to one year in jail, $600 to $1000 in fines, and 48 hours to 96 hours of public service.
- DWAI or DUI with one previous DWAI or DUI - A DUI or DWAI with prior convictions is punishable by 10 days to one year in jail, $600 to $1500 in fines, and 48 hours to 120 hours of public service.
- DWAI or DUI with two or more previous DWAIs or DUIs - A DUI or DWAI with two or more prior convictions is punishable by 60 days to one year in jail, $600 to $1500 in fines, and 48 hours to 120 hours of public service.
The administrative penalties for DUI are also severe, as they affect your driving privileges, and are often more difficult to reduce or bargain away than criminal penalties. The administrative penalties for DUI and DWAI include:
- BAC test of at least 0.08 - Nine months suspended driver's license
- Second BAC test of at least 0.08 - One year suspended driver's license
- Third or subsequent BAC test of at least 0.08 - Two years suspended driver's license
- DWAI - Eight points on your record
- First DUI - Nine months suspended driver's license and 12 points on your record
- Second DUI or DWAI - One year suspended driver's license and eight points for DWAI or 12 points for DUI
- Third DUI or DWAI - Two years suspended driver's license and eight points for DWAI or 12 points for DUI
- Under 21 drinking and driving (BAC of at least 0.02 but less than 0.05) - Three months suspended driver's license for first offense, six months for second offense, one year for third or subsequent offense, and four points on your driving record
In addition to facing criminal and administrative penalties, people charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs may have to pay court costs, penalty surcharges of up to $500 to help pay for persistent drunk driver programs, surcharges to benefit the crime victim compensation fund, fees to reinstate a driver's license after suspension or revocation, and other miscellaneous charges and penalties.
Additional Charges Related to DUI
If alcohol or drugs were involved in an accident causing injury or death, you may face charges for vehicular assault or vehicular homicide, which are very serious. Also, if you are convicted of a third DUI or DWAI offense within seven years, you will face a mandatory five-year license revocation as a "habitual traffic offender." At the Law Office of Andrew L. Bertrand, we have experience handling even the most serious DUI cases, always working with the same level of commitment and zeal no matter the challenges before us.
Please see our vehicular assault and homicide and driving under revocation and habitual traffic offender pages for more information about these charges.
Seek Experienced, Aggressive DUI Defense Representation
With experienced DUI defense counsel on your side, you increase your chances of avoiding both the immediate and lasting consequences of a DUI charge. Whether you are a first-offender or have multiple prior convictions on your record, contact the Law Office of Andrew L. Bertrand, PC today for a free initial consultation. We will waste no time in helping you evaluate your options and choose the best course of action to fight the charges brought against you.