Drunk driving is incredibly dangerous, with drivers under the influence harming others on the road by the thousands annually. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, on average, one person is killed in a drunk driving accident every 53 minutes and another is injured every 90 seconds. For 2012, drunk driving accounted for 28 percent of all of Colorado’s traffic fatalities, and the state arrested over 20,000 people for driving under the influence.
Colorado state law determines who is drunk by their blood alcohol levels. A driver under the age of 21 is considered legally drunk at a blood alcohol level of 0.02 or higher. A non-commercial driver who is at least 21 is legally drunk once their blood alcohol level exceeds 0.08. Commercial drivers, including those driving school buses, are held to tighter standards than non-commercial drivers. They are considered drunk once their blood alcohol levels go over 0.04.
The penalties that drunk drivers face range from fines to jail time and license suspension or revocation. Punishments are determined by a variety of factors, including the number of incidents, the impaired driver’s age, and whether he or she caused an accident and/or harmed another person as a result of driving while intoxicated.
Offenses are always considered first, second, third and so on, regardless of how far apart they occur. In other words, if a person is convicted of driving drunk and then does not repeat the infraction for an entire decade, the second incident ten years later is still considered a second offense.
In any DWI charge, if the driver’s blood alcohol level is 0.17 or higher, he or she must use an ignition interlock device for a year to continue to drive. This device allows certain offenders to drive under a restricted license with a controller that will prevent a car from starting if the driver attempting to engage the ignition is intoxicated.
A first-time offender faces a county jail sentence of five days to 12 months. Fines range from $300 to $1,000, and the judge might order required community service terms of 48 to 96 hours. In some cases, a first-time offender may have his or her license suspended for 90 days.
Second-time offenders may receive county jail time of 90 days to 12 months and a fine ranging from $500 to $1,500. A judge can order community service from 60 to 120 hours, and the driver may lose his or her license for an entire year.
Those who are third-time offenders are looking at a possible sentence in the county jail anywhere from 70 days to an entire year. Public service hour requirements range from 56 to 120 hours, fines start at $450 and go up to $1,500, and driving privileges may be revoked for a year.
A person who is convicted of drunk driving more than three times over the course of seven years is considered a “habitual” offender. At this point, he or she may lose driving privileges for up to five years and cannot be a part of the state’s ignition interlock program. Learn more at: www.zanerhardenlaw.com.