How Is DUI Defined Under Colorado State Law?

DUI stands for driving under the influence and it means being in control or possession of a motor vehicle with a present ability to drive and having consumed alcohol, drugs, or any combination of alcohol and drugs to the point that you were substantially unable to safely operate the vehicle. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or more, you are over the legal limit. That means you do not have to have the other elements of not being able to drive, mentally or physically. The mere fact that your BAC is 0.08 or more is a DUI. Driving with a BAC of 0.08 or more is a separate crime. On conviction of a DUI you are assessed 12 points against your driver’s license.

On conviction of a DUI with a BAC of 0.08 or more you assessed 12 points against your driver’s license.

DUI and DUI with a BAC of 0.08 or more are included within the meaning of a Habitual Traffic Offender. The DMV can determine you to be a Habitual Traffic Offender when you are convicted of three (3) major traffic offenses within a five (5) year period. Major Traffic Offenses include DUI, DWAI, DUI with excessive BAC content of 0.08 or more. There are other traffic offenses which are included in the meaning of Habitual Traffic Offender which is not relevant to the subject matter. You can read more on Habitual Traffic Offender when we discuss Habitual Traffic Offender in a separate article.

The lesser included crime of DUI is driving while ability impaired (DWAI). DWAI means being in control or possession of a motor vehicle and having the present ability to drive and having consumed alcohol, drugs, or any combination of alcohol and drugs to the point that you were unable to safely operate the vehicle to the slightest degree.

You do not have to be actually driving. Being in the driver’s seat of the front passenger seat and having the ignition on or keys to the ignition in your pocket may be sufficient to be treated that you had physical control or possession of a motor vehicle with a present ability to drive.

What Should I Do If I Am Pulled Over On Suspicion Of DUI In Colorado?

If you are stopped by police, the first thing you should do is make sure you have your driver’s license, registration, and insurance readily available. Make sure you can get it as quickly as possible without fumbling. Only lower the driver’s side window to a very small extent, so that you can pass the paperwork. Make sure you have locked your vehicle, so the officer cannot force or push open the door from outside. Place your hands on the steering wheel and try not to talk towards the face of the officer, so the police officer cannot claim to smell alcohol on your breath.

If the officer asks you to lower your window further, tell him you are concerned for your safety. Make sure that your hands remain on the steering wheel, so he can see that you do not have a weapon. If you have to get access to information in the glove compartment, get his permission and move your hand slowly with one hand on the steering wheel. If he asks you to get out of the car, ask him if he is ordering you to get out. If he is ordering you to get out, then you have to comply but do not speak to the police officer.

Remember the police officer is allowed to talk to you when he is investigating a crime or possibility of crime. This talk by the police officer is called “consensual conversation” when you voluntarily engage with the police officer. We are trained to respond to anyone contact you and ask you questions. We are trained that your responding to someone asking you questions is called “being polite and social”. However, you too have the absolute right not to talk to the police officer or answer his questions. You have the absolute right not to engage in any type of “consensual conversation” with anyone including police officers. You do not have to be afraid by refusing to answer questions of any police officer. You do not have to be “polite or social”. You do not have to be belligerent, aggressive, rude or hostile. You can just say to the police officer you do not to engage with the police officer. Psychologically you are afraid that the police office with get angry, be aggressive or arrest you. Remember if the police officer has “probable cause” the police officer can and will arrest you. You can deal with that inconvenience by going to court or getting bail at the police station or detention center, being arrested or on bail is not the end of the world. Yes, it is inconvenient, may cost you some money, and temporary loss of freedom. The only purpose of police officer trying to engage in this “consensual conversation” is to gather sufficient evidence to arrest you and charge you with a crime. You have the right not to provide the police officer with the evidence for the police officer to arrest and charge you with a crime. Sometimes, people are on the false belief that not talking to the police officer means you must be guilty. Also, people mistakenly believe I have done nothing wrong so I will talk to the police officer for I have nothing to hide. Further, people also believe that innocent people having nothing to fear so talking to police cannot harm them. Remember, the only purpose of the police officer engaging in “consensual conversation” is to gather evidence sufficient to meet the legal standard to arrest and charge you is probable cause. For without probable cause the arrest and charge would be illegal and the case will be dismissed, and you may have a case against the police officer, the police department and the civil government for unlawful arrest. No sensible officer wants to face these consequences for unlawful arrest. The probable cause is the legal shield the police officer needs to insulate him or her from a civil case for illegal arrest and departmental sanctions for such unlawful arrests.

Do not submit to the standardized field sobriety tests. You do not have to. The purpose of these tests is for you to fail and for the police to establish probable cause. You do not have to take the portable breath test. It is very inaccurate and only gives evidence for the police to establish probable cause. You can choose between a blood test, a breath test, or a refusal. If you refuse, there are penalties in that the DMV can revoke your driver license or privilege to drive for 1 year for the first refusal; 2 years or a second refusal; and 3 years for the third or subsequent refusal. If it is your first refusal and although you are revoked for 1 year you can reinstate with a restricted after 60 days with an interlock in your vehicle. If you’re drunk, it is wise to refuse. If you hit a 0.2 BAC, there are enhanced penalties with regard to a minimum mandatory 10 days in county jail, but you may be eligible for work release or in-home detention (ankle bracelet).

For more information on DUI Charges In The State Of Colorado, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (303) 557-4425 today.

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