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Driving while under the influence is always a serious offense, and the state of Colorado takes it a step further. Not only can a driver be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), but in Colorado they can also be convicted of a DWAI (driving while ability impaired). A DWAI is a lighter offense with correspondingly lighter penalties and fines, but can still create serious and expensive problems for those who are convicted.
Basic DUI Laws for the State of Colorado
If a person is over the age of 21, the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is .05 percent for a DWAI conviction in Colorado. If the driver’s BAC is at or above .08 percent, they are considered to be DUI (Driving Under the Influence). For individuals under the legal drinking age of 21, the legal BAC limit for arrest is .02 percent. In Colorado, a DUI or DWAI charge can also apply when individuals are operating a bicycle, boat, airplane or other motorized vehicle while under the influence.
Penalties Associated With Driving Under the Influence in Colorado
Colorado has the Implied Consent law regarding chemical testing in place where a law enforcement officer will choose a test (blood or breath) and advise the driver they have a right to refuse the tests, and what the associated penalties will be for refusal. Any testing that results in a Blood/Alcohol Content reading of .10 percent or greater is immediately subject to a 90-day license suspension. The penalty for refusing a test is a 12-month license suspension.
A convicted driver may request a hearing with Colorado’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), to try and get their license back. However, if the DMV upholds the suspension of the driver’s license after they go through the requested hearing, they will receive a 3-month suspension period. First offenders are able to request a restricted license after they have served the first month of their license suspension period.
First time offenders receive a fine from $600 to a maximum of $1,000. Jail time could be from five days to one year, with license suspension of up to one year and a potential 48 to 96 hours of public service. Jail time may be suspended if the driver chooses to go into an alcohol treatment program. In addition, a first time offender who was convicted of a DUI will receive 12 points on their license, while a driver convicted of a DWAI will receive eight points on their license; however the recipient of a DWAI will not receive a license suspension.
For DUI offenders with a BAC of .17 percent or higher when arrested for a first conviction you will be mandated to have an ignition interlock device installed for a minimum of 2 years after they regain use of their license. First offenders will be eligible for a restricted license if they agree to have an interlock device installed in their vehicle. During the time the driver has the interlock device in their car, they will also be required to carry a license marked as restricted, which prohibits them from driving any car without an interlock device.
SR-22 Requirements in the State of Colorado
In the State of Colorado, SR-22 Insurance is defined as a rider to the driver’s insurance policy, in which the insurance company is guaranteeing the driver will maintain current, paid insurance liability coverage for a certain period of time. When a driver selects an SR-22 policy, the insurance company will notify the state that the driver has an insurance policy that meets at least the minimum insurance coverage required by the state.
Colorado SR-22 insurance is required for a period of 3 years following a drunk driving conviction, and if a driver lets the policy lapse, their insurance company is required to notify the DMV that the SR-22 policy is no longer in effect, although it is still required; this will cause the driver’s license to be suspended. If the driver decides to change insurance companies, they must have a new SR-22 filed before their old SR-22 policy goes out of effect. If an individual is caught driving with a lapsed SR-22 policy, they will be subject to a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five days.
Effects of a DUI on the Cost of Car Insurance
In the state of Colorado, a DUI will stay on a driver’s record forever, although the Colorado DMV will typically only show the last seven years of driving history on their standard vehicle record. Even though insurance companies will now regard a convicted driver as a higher insurance risk, the calculation of insurance rates is based on so many different parameters that it is important to speak with several companies in order to find the lowest priced policy.
Colorado Car Insurance Companies for High-Risk Drivers
After a driver receives a DUI conviction, they may have a bit more difficulty finding insurance, or at least affordable insurance. It might take a bit of extra searching, but there are several companies that are willing to insure SR-22 drivers such as Progressive Insurance or The General Car Insurance Company. Colorado also has regional SR-22 insurance providers, such as Serenity Insurance, which is an insurance agency focused primarily on serving the specialized needs of drivers with DUIs or related offenses.