What You Need To Know Before and After a DUI Arrest
As Colorado Springs drunk driving defense attorneys, we answer DUI FAQs daily. Specific questions about driving under the influence come up more frequently than others simply because so many people are arrested for and charged with DUI so frequently.
In 2019 alone, Colorado prosecutors pressed charges against 26,165 people for driving under the influence. So, if you were recently pulled over and charged with DUI, you are far from alone.
An arrest for drunk driving can be a scary and unsettling experience. You may not understand Colorado law or know what to expect next regarding your driving privileges and the penalties you could face. You might think you have no chance of defeating the charges and that prosecutors have a slam-dunk case against you. But that is not true, and one of many misconceptions about DUI.
DUI FAQs in Colorado
We are posting the following answers to common DUI FAQs, so you have the information you need to understand your situation, your rights when pulled over, and how a good DUI defense lawyer can help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
What Is Colorado’s Legal Limit for Alcohol When Driving?
The amount of alcohol you can legally have in your bloodstream when driving – your blood alcohol content (BAC) – depends on who you are and why you drive.
The legal limit for drivers 21 years old and up is 0.08%. But for drivers under age 21, the limit is a significantly lower 0.02%. The legal limit for individuals who hold a commercial driver’s license is 0.04%.
Will I Be Charged If I Test Under 0.08%?
You may face charges even if your BAC is under 0.08% or another legal limit that applies to you. Colorado law establishes a separate offense called DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired).
Police can arrest you, and you will face DWAI charges if your BAC is 0.05% or higher (but less than 0.08% BAC) if the officer determines that you were impaired to even the slightest degree.
Should I Even Try to Fight the Charges if I Test Above 0.08%?
This is one of the most common DUI FAQs for a good reason. If you face charges for driving under the influence, you may feel the odds are against you.
But this is where you are wrong.
The requirements for charging someone with DUI are far less than those needed to convict someone of a DUI. As you likely know, in our criminal justice system, everyone charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. This means that prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated above the legal limit.
When it comes to Breathalyzers and other tests, there is often plenty of reasonable doubt about the accuracy of the results, as the device may not be maintained or calibrated correctly, the officer may have administered the test incorrectly, or there were other errors that could render the result unreliable as evidence.
Even if the results are accurate, a skilled DUI defense attorney can challenge their admissibility and raise other defenses based on the legality of the traffic stop or your arrest, failure to advise you of your Miranda rights, or other errors.
Do I Have to Submit to a Field Sobriety Test?
This is one of the most common DUI FAQs we receive. The simple answer is no.
If the police pull you over but have not arrested you on suspicion of DUI, you are well within your rights to respectfully refuse an officer’s request to perform any field sobriety test, such as the “walk and turn” test or “one leg stand” test. There are no penalties or consequences for refusing such testing, and prosecutors cannot use your refusal as evidence against you in court.
Can I Also Refuse a Breathalyzer, Blood, or Chemical test?
Don’t make the mistake of confusing field sobriety tests with Breathalyzer tests. Unlike field sobriety tests, your refusal to submit to a post-arrest blood, breath, or chemical test in Colorado has serious consequences. The fact is that you have already given your consent to submit to such testing.
Under Colorado’s “express consent” law, simply driving on a road or highway in Colorado means that you consented to blood, breath, or chemical testing when validly arrested for suspicion of DUI or DWAI.
That said, yes, you can refuse testing after your arrest so long as you are ready to deal with an automatic license suspension and the fact that prosecutors can introduce your refusal at trial as evidence of guilt.
Can Police Arrest Me For DUI For Driving While High?
The answer to this DUI FAQ is yes.
Colorado does not have different laws for drunk driving and driving high. The same two offenses – DUI (driving under the influence) and DWAI (driving while ability impaired) –apply to both substances.
Colorado Springs police can arrest you, and El Paso County prosecutors can charge you with a DUI for driving high if the cannabis you’ve consumed affects you to the degree that it makes you “substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.”
Is a First-Time DUI Conviction That Bad?
This DUI FAQ answers itself when you realize how seriously Colorado law, police, and prosecutors take drunk driving. They will not go easy on you because it’s your first offense. A first-time Colorado DUI conviction can result in several criminal and civil penalties, including:
- a mandatory minimum of five days up to one year behind bars;
- loss of your license for nine months;
- installation of an IID (ignition interlock device) on your vehicle at your expense if you want to obtain a restricted license;
- fines of up to $1,000;
- hundreds of dollars in additional administrative, court, and treatment program costs;
- between 48-96 hours of community service;
- twelve points added to your driving record, with the increase in insurance premiums that come with those extra points.
The penalties are stiffer for a first-time DUI if your blood alcohol content is .20% or higher. If someone is injured or killed, be prepared for consequences that reflect the seriousness of such an outcome.
Get Reliable Answers to These DUI FAQs and More
Do you have more questions about Colorado’s drunk driving laws? Get answers to additional DUI FAQs in our article DUI Lawyer Questions.
You need reliable answers from experienced DUI defense attorneys. Don’t delay. Schedule your free, confidential DUI consultation today.