Harsh Penalties Await Those Who Cause Auto Accidents While Intoxicated
Alcohol is one of the major causes of auto accidents in Colorado, and when someone driving under the influence (DUI) causes an accident that results in injuries or death, the consequences for both the offender and the victims are usually very serious.
Colorado DUI Laws
Colorado has a variety of drinking and driving-related laws on the books, each involving different blood alcohol concentration (BAC) thresholds, charges, and penalties:
- DUI BAC .08 or greater. A minor accident that causes no injuries or property damage may be charged as a misdemeanor DUI in Colorado, carrying a mandatory five days in jail up to one year, a fine of between $600 and $1,000, a mandatory 48 hours of useful public service, and up to 24 months of probation.
- Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) BAC .05-.079. DWAI, a lesser charge of DUI, carries a minimum of two days in jail up to six months, a fine of $200-$500, a mandatory minimum of 24 hours of public service, and up to 24 months of probation.
- Underage Drinking and Driving (UDD) BAC .02 or greater. Colorado drivers under age 21 who are found to be driving with a BAC of .02 or greater can be charged with UDD, which is a class A traffic infraction, carries a minimum of 24 hours of public service, the completion of an alcohol evaluation, assessment, education program, or treatment program at the offender’s own expense.
- Vehicular Assault. Vehicular assault is a DUI-related accident that results in serious bodily injury. A class 4 felony, vehicular assault is a strict liability crime, meaning that specific intent to commit the act or crime does not have to be present. A vehicular assault conviction will result in two to six years in prison (one to 12 years for exceptional aggravating circumstances), and a mandatory three years of parole if sentenced to prison.
- Vehicular Homicide. A DUI-related accident that results in death is charged as vehicular homicide, a class 3 felony that carries a penalty of three to 12 years in prison (or two to 24 years for exceptional aggravating circumstances), and a mandatory five years of parole if sentenced to prison.
Colorado also has a term called “persistent drunk driver” or PDD, for those who have:
- Been charged and convicted of more than two DUIs.
- Driven with a license suspended or revoked due to an alcohol-related violation.
- Driven with a BAC in excess of 0.15 percent.
- Had their license revoked because of two or more alcohol-related offenses.
- Refused to submit to testing after a DUI arrest.
To get their driving privileges back, PDDs need to have to an interlock device installed on their vehicles for two years, provide proof of financial responsibility for two years, and complete a level II drug and alcohol education and treatment program. Although drivers have the right to challenge a PDD designation, they must do so within seven days of their DUI arrest.
The victim of a DUI-related accident will also have the right to pursue a case in civil court to receive compensation for property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you were injured in a Colorado automobile accident involving a drunk driver, contact attorney Daniel R. Rosen for a free consultation to discuss the details of your accident.