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FAQs about Impaired Driving in Colorado

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Colorado impaired driving laws are similar to those throughout the country. However, if you live in or are visiting Colorado, there are a few things you should know to ensure you are in accordance with the rules of the local roads.

What are some of the most frequently asked questions about impaired driving in Colorado?

What is the difference between DUI and DWAI?

Driving under the influence (DUI) refers to operating a vehicle when you are substantially incapable of, either mentally or physically, exercising clear judgment, employing sufficient physical control, or using due care because you have used alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two,.

Driving while ability impaired (DWAI) is a lesser version of the above, meaning driving is impaired to only a slight degree and you are slightly less able to drive than you would be under normal conditions.

What is the “legal limit” in Colorado?

A driver in Colorado can be charged with impaired driving (DWAI) if his or her blood-alcohol content (BAC) exceeds .05, but is still less than .08, at the time of the traffic stop or within a reasonable time after. If the driver’s BAC is .08 or more, he or she can be charged with DUI. If a driver’s BAC is .17 or higher, he or she might be classified as a persistent drunk driver, which can result in steeper penalties.

Do I have to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test if accused of driving while impaired?

Though breathalyzer and blood tests are typically part of an impaired driving charge, other methods can be used to show a person was driving while impaired. Do not assume that by refusing either test, you will elude charges.

Refusing to take a breathalyzer or blood test can result in the loss of your license. The fact that you refused the test will be used against you in court.

It’s legal for people over the age of 21 to use marijuana under Colorado state law. How does that affect impaired driving laws?

At present, driving under the influence of marijuana is treated much the same way as other forms of impaired driving. You can be accused of DUI or DWAI, whether it is alcohol or marijuana.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, the legal limit for driving with marijuana in the blood is 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood, but this is difficult to gauge in different people. Various methods of using marijuana and the amount of THC consumed determines how a person can be affected and each person can be affected differently. Just as with alcohol, if you choose to smoke or use marijuana, you should not drive.

According to the March 10, 2014 edition of USA Today, there are currently 200 Drug Recognition Experts in the state. Local police officers are being trained to spot drivers under the influence of marijuana and there is a public education program underway to warm drivers of the consequences of driving under the influence of marijuana.

Will I be arrested if law enforcement officials think I am driving impaired?

Yes. There are both criminal and administrative penalties associated with DWAI and DUI. First time offenses could result in two to 180 days in jail, fines, and public service requirements and various court costs and penalty surcharges. Administrative penalties include license points, potential loss of driving privileges. Second, third, and additional offenses result in increased penalties. These guidelines assume an impaired driver was not involved in an accident.

I’ve been arrested for impaired driving! What should I do?

The first thing you should do after an arrest is contact an attorney. This is the case regardless of charges, but if you are arrested for DUI or DWAI in Colorado, it is imperative you contact an experienced criminal law attorney that has experienced dealing with impaired driving laws. In addition to protecting your rights and ensuring the proper procedures were followed during a DUI or DWAI stop, an attorney can also negotiate on your behalf.

Miller and Steiert, P.C. has experience defending drivers in Colorado charged with DUI or DWAI. Whether this is your first offense or you are faced with repeat charges, we can provide the information and support you need. Contact us today for a consultation.

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