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Colorado law enforcement ramps up DUI patrols for summer

On behalf of Dolan + Zimmerman LLP July 3, 2018

It’s the summer time. A time to relax and enjoy a good barbeque and a few drinks with some friends. However, before you hit the road, keep in mind that Colorado law enforcement is out in full swing during the summer months, looking for drunk drivers.

Agencies throughout the state participate in something called The Heat Is On – a campaign that goes throughout the year that specifically targets drunk drivers through a series of initiatives, including sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols.  The entire goal of this campaign is to arrest as many drunk drivers as possible – with many of the initiatives taking place in the summer months.

But….I only had two drinks

In Colorado, the legal driving limit for a driving under the influence (DUI) charge is 0.08 percent. For a driving while ability impaired (DWAI) charge, an even lower blood alcohol content of 0.05 triggers a presumption of impairment. But no particular blood alcohol content level is required for a DWAI charge; a driver is legally considered impaired if they were impaired “even to the slightest degree.” This means that for some people – depending on things like how your body metabolizes alcohol, whether or not you recently ate, and how even a small quantity of alcohol impacts your ability to do divided attention tasks like driving – just one or two drinks can put someone over the legal limit.

Darrell Lingk, the Director of the Office of Transportation for the Colorado Department of Transportation is even quoted as saying, “Some people think getting behind the wheel after one or two drinks is acceptable, but that isn’t the case. Even a few alcoholic drinks can impair your ability to drive — it’s simply not worth the risk.”

This means that while you may feel sober – and even think that logistically you must be since you only had one or two drinks – the truth is that you could end up over the legal driving limit and arrested for DUI or DWAI.

Hundreds arrested over long holiday weekend

Law enforcement know that people like to go out and celebrate in the summer – especially over long weekends. That is why they specifically increase their enforcement around federal holidays, such as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

Just to give you a glimpse into this past Memorial Day – 300 people were arrested in Colorado and accused of driving under the influence. That’s 300 people in just four days of increased patrolling.

The consequences for those arrested – if found guilty – can be quite steep. Even a first time DUI can result in a year-long jail sentence, driver’s license suspension and very expensive fines. And if this is a second or subsequent DUI or DWAI charge, the consequences only go up from there upon conviction.

Keep this in mind when going out to celebrate this summer, while also keeping in mind that an arrest is not a conviction and that there is time after an arrest to consult with an attorney to work toward getting the charge either dismissed or a sentence negotiated in your favor.