Every year, Colorado records over 26,000 DUI related arrests and more than 150 deaths in alcohol-related vehicle crashes. In this year’s legislative session, lawmakers are expected to try and pass a felony DUI bill. Colorado is one of four states without a felony DUI law, i.e., repeat offenses are not treated as felonies. In the context of alcohol-related offenses, BAC or blood alcohol content is an important factor that everyone must consider. A felony DUI in Colorado has failed in the legislation and in 2015 there is new felony DUI legislation.

BAC: The basics

Blood alcohol level is expressed in grams of alcohol per 100 millimeters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liter of breath. In Colorado, to be charged with DUI or DWAI, your BAC needs to be 0.02 if you’re a minor; if you’re over 21 years of age, 0.08 for DUI and 0.05 for DWAI apply. Factors like age, weight and the time between drinks consumed decide whether and to what extent you have reached the legal limit. It doesn’t take a lot of alcohol to be deemed legally impaired, so either you have the option not to really live it up at the bar and drive safely, or drink to your heart’s content but take a cab or have someone take you home.

DUI and DWAI laws and penalties

You can be charged with DUI even if your test results show a BAC of .080

You can be charged with DUI if you refuse to take a chemical test when showing signs or indications of impairment or being under the influenced. Consequently, your driver’s license can be revoked for a year.

As a no-tolerance state, you can be arrested and charged with DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) if your blood or breath alcohol content is between .050 and 0.079, with the possibility of being charged even if your test result shows the percentage to be below .050.

You may have to serve a 10-day minimum jail term for a second DUI offense and a 60-day term for subsequent offenses. The law gives you the option to stay in jail or apply for a work release program

DWAI is a misdemeanor charge, which imposes a minimum jail time of 2 days and a maximum of 180 days. Fines of up to $500 and up to 48 hours of community service may also be required.

Last September, The National Transportation Safety Board proposed that the legal limit for blood alcohol content be lowered from 0.08 to 0.05. While it is likely that anything concrete will come out of the proposal at least in the near future, it is in your best interests to drink and drive responsibly. Should you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, don’t hesitate to engage the services of an experienced Colorado DUI defense attorney at the earliest.