What Does Persistent Drunk Driver Mean and Why Should You Care?

by | Oct 11, 2021 | DUI Defense

A Burdensome Title You Don’t Want

While most Pikes Peak Region residents consider persistence to be an admirable quality, that viewpoint can quickly change if the state of Colorado labels you a “persistent drunk driver.” That dubious designation, which you will receive on your second DUI conviction and for certain types of first-time DUIs, will have far-reaching and unpleasant consequences, increasing the penalties you face for subsequent offenses. It is also a label that will hang around your neck like a proverbial millstone for the rest of your life, threatening your future and your finances.

But what is a persistent drunk driver in Colorado, how do you earn this undesirable title, and what happens if you do?

Persistent Drunk Driver Defined

The word “persistent” implies repeated actions or offenses. However, Colorado law provides that some first-time convictions – and even just an arrest – for driving under the influence can earn a defendant the distinction of a persistent drunk driver.

Specifically, Colorado will consider you to be a persistent drunk driver on your first DUI if:

  • You had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or higher (the legal limit is 0.8)
  • You refuse a request to take a required breath, blood, saliva, or urine test following an arrest for DUI.

You will also automatically earn the persistent drunk driver label for your second DUI conviction or if, even when sober, you drive on a license revoked for a prior alcohol-related offense.

Automatic Driver’s License Revocation and Other Penalties

Persistent drunk drivers lose the privilege of driving until they satisfy several time-consuming, expensive, and burdensome court-mandated requirements. Fulfilling these requirements is just a portion of the penalties imposed for a drunk driving conviction. Other consequences include jail time, fines, and community service.

As a persistent drunk driver, your license revocation will remain in place and you will not be able to drive unless and until:

  • An ignition interlock device is installed on your vehicle and kept in working condition for at least two years. You will bear all costs relating to the device, including installation and regular maintenance and calibration.
  • You provide proof of financial responsibility (also called “SR-22 insurance coverage”) is filed with the State of Colorado, which coverage must be maintained for at least two years, and
  • You complete a Level II alcohol education and treatment program.

Related: What Is An Interlock Restricted License in Colorado?

Lengthy Alcohol Education and Treatment Programs

As noted, persistent drunk drivers must complete a Level II alcohol education and treatment plan in order to reinstate their driving privileges. These programs are longer and more involved than any Level I programs you may have completed as part of a previous drunk driving conviction.

There are four different “tracks” for Level II alcohol education and treatment programs. Which track the State of Colorado will require depends on the basis of your persistent drunk driver status. For instance:

  • BAC of at least 0.15 percent:
    • No prior DUIs: Track B – 52 hours over six months
    • One or more prior DUIs – Track D – 86 hours over ten months
  • 2nd or Subsequent DUI (but BAC less than 0.15): Track C – 68 hours over eight months
  • Test Refusal:
    • No prior DUIs: Track B – 52 hours over six months
    • One or more prior DUIs: Track D – 86 hours over ten months

Not All Consequences of a Persistent Drunk Driver Designation Come From The Court

Of course, not all of the fallout of a persistent drunk driver designation comes from Colorado’s criminal justice system or from the Department of Motor Vehicles. That disagreeable label will stay on your criminal record for the rest of your life with no opportunity to remove or expunge it.

In addition, the designation of being a persistent drunk driver can cost you employment, financial, educational opportunities, loss of your right to possess a firearm and result in increased car insurance premiums, among other consequences.

Avoid The Consequences Of Being Labeled As A Persistent Drunk Driver

The best Colorado Springs DUI attorneys will use the experience and insights gained as former DUI prosecutors to defend the rights of individuals charged with DUI, whether it is their first, second, or subsequent offense. Attacking every part of the prosecution’s case, James Newby Law will aggressively and strategically fight the allegations against you, placing you in the best position to obtain a favorable outcome to your case.

James Newby

James Newby

James Newby is a criminal defense attorney in Colorado Springs and the managing attorney of the criminal justice law firm James Newby Law. James got into law because of a deep-rooted passion for helping good people that may have made a poor choice that could have lasting consequences.