DUI & DWAI 2018-01-04T18:30:40+00:00

Colorado DUI, DWAI, and DUI Per Se Law

A person found to be driving a motor vehicle within the State of Colorado may be charged with the misdemeanor of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, or Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) by alcohol or drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs.

There are actually two distinct sets of crimes related to Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI). The initial portion of the applicable Colorado statute provides that Driving Under the influence means driving a motor vehicle or vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, that affects the person to a degree that the person is 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.

Whereas Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) means driving a motor vehicle or vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, that affects the person to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, 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.

For these offenses the actual Blood Alcohol Content, if a BAC test was completed, is not determinative. With certain caveats, the prosecution simply needs to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual is guilty of meeting the rather subjective criteria set forth in the description of DUI and DWAI regarding the degree to which the person was properly able to drive the vehicle at the subject time. In addition to the potential blood test or breath test results there are numerous other contentions, and counter-contentions that may be introduced to show to a judge or jury that a person was, or was not, DUI or DWAI at the subject time.

In any prosecution for DUI or DWAI, the defendant’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at the time of the commission of the alleged offense, or within a reasonable time thereafter, gives rise to the following presumptions or inferences:

(I) If at such time the defendant’s BAC was 0.05 or less, it shall be presumed that the defendant was not under the influence of alcohol and that the defendant’s ability to operate a motor vehicle or vehicle was not impaired by the consumption of alcohol.

(II) If at such time the defendant’s BAC was in excess of 0.05 but less than 0.08, such fact gives rise to the permissible inference that the defendant’s ability to operate a motor vehicle or vehicle was impaired by the consumption of alcohol, and such fact may also be considered with other competent evidence in determining whether or not the defendant was under the influence of alcohol.

(III) If at such time the defendant’s BAC was 0.08 or more, such fact gives rise to the permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol.

The inferences and presumptions are not to be construed as limiting the introduction, reception, or consideration of any other competent evidence bearing upon the question of whether or not the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or whether or not the defendant’s ability to operate a motor vehicle or vehicle was impaired by the consumption of alcohol.

In addition to the foregoing prohibitions, the applicable Colorado statute contains a further per se provision stating that it is a criminal misdemeanor for any person to drive a motor vehicle or vehicle when the person’s BAC is 0.08 or more at the time of driving or within two hours after driving.

If a person drives a motor vehicle in Colorado when the person’s BAC is 0.08 or more at the time of driving, or within two hours after driving, the person is considered to be guilty of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) per se. The words per se simply mean that if the alcohol content is above the certain designated limit, which is .08, at the time of driving or within two hours after driving, the person can be considered guilty of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). This determination is made completely irrespective of any evidence as to what was the capability of the driver to drive his or her vehicle in Colorado at the applicable time. It is also made irrespective of the existence under law of a permissible inference that can be made as to whether the driver was Driving Under the Influence.

During a trial of any person accused of both DUI and DUI per se, the prosecution need not elect between the two violations. The court or a jury may consider and convict the person of either DUI or DWAI, or DUI per se, or both DUI and DUI per se, or both DWAI and DUI per se. If the person is convicted of more than one violation, the sentences imposed must run concurrently.

During a trial, if the state’s evidence raises the issue, or if a defendant presents some credible evidence, that the defendant consumed alcohol between the time that the defendant stopped driving and the time that testing occurred, such issue shall be an affirmative defense, and the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the minimum 0.08 blood or breath alcohol content required in this paragraph (a) was reached as a result of alcohol consumed by the defendant before the defendant stopped driving.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) for 1st Colorado DUI Offense with No Previous Applicable Offenses in Colorado or any other Jurisdiction within the United States

What constitutes a previous offense in Colorado for the purposes of DUI sentencing is complex and previous offenses encompass many violations which may not be readily apparent to a defendant.

If an individual meets the criteria for having no previous applicable offenses, in Colorado or elsewhere in the United states, and their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was 0.08 or above, but less than 0.20, the following penalties apply:

  • Jail – From 5 Days to 1 Year, which may be Suspended in Accordance with Colorado Law
  • Fine – From $600 – $1,000
  • 12 Penalty Points
  • Public Service – From 48 to 96 Hours

In addition to the foregoing the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles will typically suspend the license of an offender.

Colorado law provides that for jail to be potentially suspended an individual must, in addition to any other requirements:

Receive a presentence alcohol and drug evaluation;

Based on that evaluation, satisfactorily complete an appropriate level I or level II alcohol and drug driving safety education or treatment program; and

Abstain from the use of alcohol for a period of one year from the date of sentencing. Such abstinence is to be monitored by the treatment facility by the administration of disulfiram or by any other means that the director of the treatment facility deems appropriate. This does not mean that an individual must simply abstain from using alcohol prior to driving, but rather, that the individual must abstain from any use of alcohol whatsoever for the stated period.

If the offender does not satisfactorily comply with the conditions of the suspension of the jail sentence, the sentence may be reimposed, and the offender may be required to spend that portion of such offender’s sentence that was suspended in the county jail.

In the event that a first time offender’s Blood Alcohol Content “BAC” is determined to have been 0.20 or more within two hours of that person having driven a motor vehicle in Colorado, the Court is required to impose a sentence of at least ten days but not more than one year in the county jail, in addition to a penalty which includes fines, surcharges and court costs, between forty-eight and ninety-six hours of useful public service and other sanctions and conditions as permitted by law for the Judge to impose. The suspension of a jail sentence is not available if the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is determined to have been at 0.20 or greater.l to be potentially suspended an individual must, in addition

Penalties for Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) for 1st Colorado DUI Offense with No Previous Applicable Offenses in Colorado or any other Jurisdiction within the United States

DWAI is a lower standard and means that the driver has consumed a level of alcohol and/or drugs that renders him unable in the slightest degree to operate his vehicle. This means that he is, in any way less able to operate the vehicle than an ordinary person without drugs or alcohol in their system would be.

What constitutes a previous offense in Colorado for the purposes of DWAI sentencing is complex and previous offenses encompass many violations which may not be readily apparent to a defendant.

If an individual is convicted of DWAI, meets the criteria for having no previous applicable offenses, in Colorado or elsewhere in the United States, and did not have an initial BAC greater than 0.20, the following penalties apply:

1st DWAI Offense

  • Jail – From 48 Hours to 180 Days, provide the original BAC was under 0.20. Jail may be Suspended in Accordance with Colorado Law
  • Fine – From $200 to $500
  • Eight Penalty Points
  • Public Service – From 24 to 48 Hours

In addition to the foregoing the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles may suspend the license of an offender based largely on the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) recorded.

Colorado law provides that for jail to be potentially suspended an individual must, in addition to any other requirements:

Receive a presentence alcohol and drug evaluation;

Based on that evaluation, satisfactorily complete an appropriate level I or level II alcohol and drug driving safety education or treatment program; and

Abstain from the use of alcohol for a period of one year from the date of sentencing. Such abstinence is to be monitored by the treatment facility by the administration of disulfiram or by any other means that the director of the treatment facility deems appropriate. This does not mean that an individual must simply abstain from using alcohol prior to driving, but rather, that the individual must abstain from any use of alcohol whatsoever for the stated period.

If the offender does not satisfactorily comply with the conditions of the suspension of the jail sentence, the sentence may be reimposed, and the offender may be required to spend that portion of such offender’s sentence that was suspended in the county jail.

In response to public pressure and alarming rates of alcohol-related traffic accidents, Colorado DUI laws have become increasingly harsh within the last decade. Colorado DUI Attorney Ross Koplin provides experienced DUI defense representation in all Denver metropolitan area, including all misdemeanor and felony cases related to DUI.

DUI Charges & Convictions

Colorado Drunk Driving Law consists of two parts: the Criminal Case with possible jail time, alcohol classes, community service, fines and costs, and the Civil Drivers License Case with the possible revocation of driving privileges. If you have been arrested for drunk driving, you must go to the Department of Motor vehicles within seven (7) days to request a hearing, or your license will automatically be suspended. If convicted of a DUI in Colorado, the consequences can be severe, costly, and have a lasting negative impact on your life for years to come.

Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Ross Koplin

DUI laws are very complex and the consequences of a conviction depend upon the particular facts of the case, severity of the charges (misdemeanor vs. felony), and the court handling the case.  Therefore, finding the right lawyer can make a big difference with regard to the outcome of your DUI case.  Attorney Ross Koplin will fight to get your charges dismissed or reduced and will help you cope with the stresses of a DUI charge.  If you are seeking a DUI attorney in Colorado, call Ross Koplin for a free, confidential telephone consultation at:  (303) 831-8924.

Legal Disclaimer – The information contained at this web site is not intended to be legal advice and all information regarding Colorado criminal law is general content only and should not be relied upon for any specific Colorado criminal law situation. Information on this web site is not intended to be comprehensive and does not cover all the issues, nuances or ramifications related to the topic discussed. This web site may not be updated routinely to reflect the very most current Colorado law.

Individuals should consult an experienced Denver criminal lawyer for advice regarding an individual situation.