Colorado DUI Diversion Program for Drunk Drivers

Colorado DUI diversionPeople are charged with DUIs every day in the United States. Whether you’re a habitual offender or you suffered a momentary lapse in judgment, as a DUI offender you can expect to be prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law. However, first-time offenders who meet certain conditions may be eligible for a deferred sentence.

In the state of Colorado a program exists to prevent defendants from committing additional crimes, aid victims of crimes, enable defendants to pay restitution to their victims and reduce the number of cases in the Colorado judicial system. The the Colorado DUI Diversion program creates a legally binding agreement between the defendant and the district attorney in which the defendant agrees to counseling, payment of restitution, and certain other conditions, and the district attorney agrees that if the defendant successfully completes the program, no charges will be filed or they will be dismissed if already filed.

You must meet certain criteria to be considered for the Colorado DUI diversion program. The following things will be considered when determining your eligibility:

  • The nature of and circumstances surrounding the crime
  • If you have any special characteristics or circumstances
  • If diversion is consistent with your rehabilitation or reintegration
  • If public interest is served

Your Colorado DUI diversion agreement will be unique to your situation. It must take all the circumstances and facts surrounding your particular incident into account to determine the best ways for you to provide restitution. It will require at least a few of the following:

  • An alcohol assessment
  • Alcohol counseling and treatment
  • Payment of restitution
  • Community service
  • You cannot commit any other crimes or possess firearms while in the program if you own a firearm you will be required to surrender it
  • Ignition interlock

Drinking and driving is a serious offense, and even if you qualify for a diversion program the repercussions are vast. Money and time will be sacrificed in this process. Save yourself from both by having a plan to prevent drinking and driving.

Calling a Parent to Prevent Colorado Underage DUI

colorado underage DUIOn any given Friday or Saturday night across the country thousands of high schoolers and underage college kids attend parties. A lot of these parties will have alcohol available. It is naive to think that your child will never try alcohol, or that they might not be frightened to call you after already making an unwise choice and then compound it by getting behind the wheel. This is why it’s important for parents to communicate with their kids and be aware of the law.

In Colorado there is zero tolerance for underage drinking. This means if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .02% or above, you will be charged with a Colorado underage DUI. Not only that but if your BAC .05% or above, you will receive the typical adult consequences associated with a DWAI or DUI.

The penalties associated with a Colorado underage DUI include:

  • A fine up to $150.
  • 4 points on your driving record.
  • Up to 24 hours of useful public service.
  • Automatic 3-month suspension of your driver’s license.
  • An evaluation or assessment of alcohol and/or drug addiction at your expense.
  • An education and treatment program for alcohol and/or drugs at your expense.
  • Possible ignition interlock requirement.

Additional charges such as minor in possession, soliciting alcohol and moving and vehicle maintenance violations among others can also be added on to your Colorado underage DUI and will carry additional penalties. You will also have the additional cost of increased insurance premiums or even struggling to find a new insurance premium who will cover a driver with an underage DUI conviction.

The penalties associated with a BAC above .05% are even harsher and are not something you want to have to be associated with, as some of them can have lifelong effects on things such as getting into college or obtaining certain jobs. Remember, calling mom or dad for a ride might be scary and the consequences might not be fun, but your parents’ consequences are much better than criminal consequences that will stay on your record forever.

New Plates for Rising Colorado DUI Rates?

scarlet letter plates for colorado dui driversThe word on the street is that dangerous drunk drivers are increasing the rates of Colorado DUI incidents to such an extent that law enforcement is looking into new methods to discourage DUIs. Well, the new method is actually an old one – public shaming. The Colorado State Patrol asked followers on Twitter if they would support “scarlet letter plates” for drunk drivers. In fact, many think that this solution would only exacerbate the problem of drunk drivers, rather than solving it.

A new Colorado DUI offender license plate could mean… more DUIs.

Scarlet letter plates, sometimes called “whiskey plates,” are special license plates that a few states use for DUI offenders. The idea is a public acknowledgment of a person’s drunk driving will make him or her think twice about repeating the crime. However, there are two problems with this solution. The first is that a person who thinks they are okay to drive after drinking is probably not concerned with those license plates. Bad judgement is bad judgement. In addition, special license plates do not have magical powers to stop a person from drinking and driving once they are installed on a vehicle.

Along those lines, a suspended or revoked driver’s license also does nothing to stop a person from driving. There are more penalties involved in driving illegally, but there is no actual mechanism to prevent those people from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and driving.

The only thing that stops a person from driving under the influence is an ignition interlock device – a device which prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects alcohol on a driver’s breath. Given that a Colorado DUI offender has already made at least one bad choice where alcohol is involved, the honor system is no longer a reliable method to prevent drunk driving. Instead of pointing out the DUI offenders on the road, or hoping they do not drive with a suspended or revoked license, relying on devices like ignition interlocks seems to be the only solid plan to stop the rising Colorado DUI rates.

There is No Getting Around Colorado Implied Consent Laws

Colorado Implied ConsentGetting your driver’s license was probably one of the biggest milestones in your life. In exchange for a few signatures, a road test and written test, and a lot of practice, you gained your freedom to drive legally. Do you remember exactly what you signed as you went through the steps to get your license? You agreed to the Colorado implied consent law, often referred to as the express consent law.

All 50 states have implied consent laws like those in Colorado

Colorado implied consent or express consent laws are what you are faced with if and when you are pulled over by law enforcement, suspected of drinking and driving. These laws allow an officer with probable cause to screen you for any alcohol or drug influence, including breathalyzer and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) testing. If and when you are pulled over and asked to blow into a police breathalyzer, you actually already agreed to the test. If you refuse to blow at that time, you are in violation of the Colorado implied consent laws and will face additional penalties, including a possible ignition interlock requirement.

On top of that, you will likely be investigated further for possible DUI or other drunk driving charges, after which you will have no choice but to submit a BAC sample… at the police station.

Colorado implied consent laws keep the streets safe from drunk drivers, even those who may not actually have a BAC reading above the per se limit. If there is enough evidence without hitting that number, like refusing the BAC test, you could still be convicted of a DUI or DWAI. Keeping yourself out of trouble means keeping all others safe on the roads you are driving on. You already agreed to the BAC testing back when you got your license, so you may as well follow through and only drive when you are safe and sober.

A Colorado DUI is Another Full-time Job?

Colorado DUI cost full time jobA Colorado DUI is obviously a big deal, with plenty of consequences that follow an offender for many years. A recent analysis of those consequences actually equates a Colorado DUI with taking on another full-time job. So when you’re ready to hit the road and have some drinks with friends, perhaps the threat of another nine-to-five type obligation can convince you to have a better plan in place.

Here’s the breakdown: a Colorado DUI will require as much time as a full-time job, with a minimum of 170 hours spent on dealing with consequences until the court is satisfied.

Those consequences include the court hearings, visits to the DMV, victim impact panels, alcohol assessments or evaluations and any other directives or recommendations by the court. The financial costs of a first-offense Colorado DUI are steep ($13,530 on average), and well over the national average of $10,000, too. Of course, making it to all of those scheduled meetings and appointments requires transportation, so an offender may want to consider an ignition interlock even if the court doesn’t require the device.

All of those requirements can also mean you lose time at work, too. Less time for work could mean a reduction in wages or being terminated. That’s additional stress, time and money worries you didn’t need.

When you’re already stressed out about your job or other life and family obligations, it may not seem like a big deal to blow off steam at a bar. When you’re safe about it, you can have the freedom to decompress and destress while surrounded by friends, and maybe share a drink or two. Just be sure you have a safe ride home before you head to happy hour, ensuring that your stresses and obligations aren’t essentially doubled by a lack of careful, safe planning.

MADD Clears Up Colorado DUI Confusion

MADD clears up Colorado DUI confusionMADD is one of those organizations that challenges us all to think, whether we want to or not. Not only is the name a pretty big line in the sand, but it is often held as an example of the power of activism across the U.S. So when MADD says Colorado DUI reports are wrong, we should probably listen, even if we don’t like what those mothers have to say.

A recent report states that drugged driving is a bigger problem than Colorado DUI driving.

Granted, Colorado has legalized marijuana, and those types of DUI incidents are rising. However, the report has flawed data, including:

  • Only reporting results from drivers who were killed during the incident, not those who were injured or unharmed.
  • Leaving out the fact that there is no standard measurement (like blood alcohol concentration for traditional DUI drivers) for drug-related DUI drivers.

Those two aspects immediately bring to mind the faulty data that can be used to inhibit current emphasis on Colorado DUI and drunk driving across the country. That includes awareness campaigns and the push for all-offender ignition interlock laws in every state.

“With that report, they were only able to look at fatally injured drivers, it didn’t look at whether or not they caused the crash or not, if the driver did cause the crash, but the driver survived, that test, that data, those aren’t included in the report so I feel like it’s an incomplete picture…”

A Colorado DUI, whether a result of alcohol, drugs or a combination, carries strict penalties, including an ignition interlock device in many cases, even for a drug-only DUI (DUI-D). In a state where recreational marijuana is legal, it isn’t surprising to see the number of DUI-D incidents on the rise. But, MADD still says alcohol is the top cause of DUI in Colorado, as well as across the U.S.

The Rising Cost of a Colorado DUI

Colorado DUI costs are on the riseThe average cost of a DUI used to run a cool $10,000. However, inflation being what it is, that cost is rising. Right now, the estimated bill for a Colorado DUI is around $13,000. Conversely, an Uber ride in Denver runs around $25 minimum. It doesn’t take a lot of math skills to see what the smart choice is at the end of the night.

From a financial perspective, a legal perspective and a safety perspective, that $25 Uber ride makes a lot more sense than a Colorado DUI. Not to mention the risk to others’ lives on the road.

Those Colorado DUI costs include medical detoxification, towing and storage of your vehicle, almost two dozen court costs and fines, attorney’s fees, increased auto insurance premiums and an ignition interlock requirement (if you are eligible for the device). Plus, there is the loss of wages if you cannot make it to work, as well as the time involved in making it to court and DMV hearings, victim impact panels, and your probation officer. Time, money, frustration and a criminal conviction, all for the low price of at least $13,000.

Currently, Colorado DUI numbers are rising at an alarming rate, too, perhaps adding into the overall cost of the crime. Colorado State Patrol statistics are already showing an 11 percent increase in DUI crashes that cause fatalities or injuries this year. Saving money is important, but saving lives is the most important reason to rethink how you’ll be getting home.

Instead of counting the reasons to try to drive yourself home, remember that your car is a lot safer left in a parking lot overnight than being towed and impounded by law enforcement after a DUI. Your life is also much more precious than the risk you take after that “one for the road,” too. $13,000 adds up quickly to thousands of reasons to plan for a safe ride home if you’ll be drinking.

DUI Don’t: Colorado Ignition Interlock Device Violations

Colorado ignition interlock violationsAfter a Colorado DUI, most people feel pretty lucky to have an ignition interlock device instead of a driver’s license suspension or lengthy jail sentence. Others, however, see that device as more than frustrating and do their best to keep driving without being monitored. Unfortunately, when you have a court or DMV-ordered ignition interlock device, you could run into more problems if you drive without the device.

It is possible to also have a Colorado ignition interlock requirement for a DUI violation from marijuana use or any other substance. In fact, there are convictions for those who drive dangerously and don’t quite meet the legal per se blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of .08 percent.

Colorado Ignition Interlock Device violations include:

  • Tampering with or attempting to mechanically circumvent the device.
  • Blowing a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) result above the pre-set limit.
  • Refusing a BAC test at start-up or during a rolling retest.
  • Not having the device calibrated regularly.

All of those steps will ensure you have a smooth ride with your device and that it is removed at the right time. However, sometimes you have the best intentions and could still end up with a violation of your requirement. In that case, you could face additional time with the Colorado ignition interlock or be removed from the program completely. In that case, you’ll have to serve out your entire license suspension. If your violation was the result of a failed BAC test, you could also face additional DUI or DWAI charges, depending on the reading that was recorded by your device.

It isn’t difficult to get through your time with the device, as long as you follow the instructions given to you by your service provider. The number one rule is to not drive if you’ve been drinking, the very same problem that led you to an ignition interlock requirement to begin with.

Either Way, You’re Under the Influence: Colorado DUI and DWAI

Colorado DUI and DWAIDid you know you can be convicted of drunk driving even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below the legal, per se limit?

In Colorado and other states across the U.S., there are different designations for DUI or DWAI that are based on the BAC of the offender or the understanding that the driver is otherwise impaired by drugs, medications or controlled substances. These different terms and criteria allow law enforcement to remove a dangerous driver from the road, even if they don’t meet the standard definition of an impaired driver.

DUI per se is defined in each state as meeting or exceeding the BAC limit of .08 percent.

A Colorado DUI charge or conviction occurs when a person demonstrates they are driving dangerously. Typically, a BAC of .08 is considered a DUI.

“Driving under the influence” means driving a vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, which alcohol alone, or one or more drugs alone, or alcohol combined with one or more drugs affects the person to a degree that the person is 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.

A Colorado DWAI charge or conviction occurs at a lower BAC limit (.05 – .079 percent) along with the observation of dangerous driving.

“Driving while ability impaired” means driving a vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, which alcohol alone, or one or more drugs alone, or alcohol combined with one or more drugs, affects the person to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, 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.

In either case, alcohol does not have to be present, either, as long as there is proof of drug use or controlled substances in the person’s system. If you’re driving erratically, you run the risk of a Colorado DUI or DWAI when you’ve also been drinking or using drugs. You face criminal penalties, a possible ignition interlock and the risks to yourself an others on the road. The easiest choice is to not take the risk and always have a safe way to get home if you’re under any sort of intoxicating influence.

Impaired Influence: Colorado Ignition Interlock Violations

Colorado ignition interlock violationsIn Colorado, a DUI conviction means that you probably have an interlock requirement through the court or DMV. That means two major things in your life: you must remain sober when driving, and you must not drive a vehicle without a Colorado ignition interlock installed until your restriction is lifted.

It seems simple enough, but even with the requirement, not everyone feels it is a fair or simple solution after a DUI. Colorado ignition interlock violations are taken seriously and any attempts to circumvent the device or drive illegally mean that you’ll face an even tougher road to reinstating your license and resuming your normal life.

According to the Colorado DMV:

“Any Interlock-restricted driver who either drives a non-equipped vehicle or attempts to circumvent the proper functioning of the interlock device is subject to a license revocation with no driving for at least 1 year.”

Circumvention can be either mechanically bypassing the device, allowing another person to submit a breath sample, or driving illegally without a Colorado ignition interlock. So that quick run to the store down the road in a car without an interlock device could mean you find yourself removed from the program, facing a full suspension of your license.

Please note that once your license is suspended for an interlock violation in Colorado, the consequences for driving after that point will be severe. Also, not paying for your interlock and having it removed as a result of non-payment also qualifies as a violation.

In other words, your best bet to easily get through your Colorado ignition interlock requirement is to use the device as instructed… or just don’t drink and drive in the first place.

Colorado doesn’t mess around with any type of impaired driving, and you could even have an interlock requirement if you are under the influence of any type of substance, not just alcohol. Violating the law and putting lives in danger is a choice that can be avoided when you plan ahead if you know you’ll be drinking (or using any other legally-intoxicating substances) and have a safe ride home.

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