Driving Under the Influence

In Colorado, it is against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol, drug, or both alcohol and drugs. To convict you of driving under the influence (“DUI”), the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving a vehicle when you had consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, that made you 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.

DUI cases can sometimes get complicated. If you consented to a breath or blood test when you were stopped by police, you may also be facing a charge of “DUI per se.” Colorado has established a “per se” limit for blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of .08, and has made a law that says that it is illegal to drive with a BAC that high. That means that if you have a BAC of .08 or greater, you can be convicted of DUI per se even if you are not convicted of an ordinary DUI charge.

Beyond DUI per se, a BAC of .08 or greater has consequences for the traditional DUI charge you may be facing. If your BAC is .08 or greater, it is easier for the prosecution to argue that you were, in fact, substantially incapable of operating your vehicle as your BAC was higher than the limit that has been shown to cause substantial impairment.

In other cases, you can be found guilty of DUI even if your blood or breath alcohol content is less than 0.08 (though you can not be found guilty of DUI per se. Remember, there must be a BAC of .08 or greater to be convicted of DUI per se). The prosecution can prove that you were substantially incapable of operating your vehicle even if your BAC was less than .08. It can do so through evidence about your erratic driving, statements that you may have made to police, or other evidence that is relevant to proving whether you were incapable of driving.

In all of these scenarios, presenting your defense can be difficult. You should speak with an experienced DUI attorney if you are facing allegations of driving under the influence.

Penalties are more severe for a subsequent conviction (a conviction after a previous conviction for DUI, DUI per se, habitual user, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, driving under restraint, or DWAI). The higher penalty includes mandatory jail. At times it can be difficult to determine whether you have a previous conviction. If you think that you may have a previous conviction you should consult with an attorney to determine whether you do and how it might be addressed.

Penalties are also more severe when a defendant’s blood or breath alcohol content is 0.20 or higher. The penalties include a minimum of 10 days in jail. The judge in those cases has discretion to impose jail alternatives like work crew or house arrest, but you must argue and present a case for why you should be sentenced to an alternative in the event you are convicted.

CGH is here to help. From your first consultation, we are committed to helping you and devoted to effectively advancing your position. If you are facing a DUI charge, call us today to schedule your free consultation.