Aggravation is a common human emotion. Your children or spouse can aggravate you. Your job can cause you to feel aggravated. But the idea of being “aggravated” is also a legal term.
Legally, you’ll see the word often combined with driving under the influence (DUI). A DUI charge means that you’ve been caught driving with alcohol or drugs in your system. An aggravated DUI is even worse; it means you’ve crossed the line into a more serious offense and should seek legal help immediately.
What’s the Difference Between DUI and Aggravated DUI in Colorado?
Colorado DUI laws mandate that it is illegal for any person to drive a motorized vehicle with alcohol or drugs in their system. Our statutes define the limits for your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is how much of these chemicals can be in your system before the police and court system gets involved. The laws also define how police can test for these substances and the penalties for the varying levels of DUI conviction.
An aggravated DUI is a step up in legal severity from “just” a DUI; if you are charged at this higher level, it means you face tougher sentencing. Aggravating circumstances on your DUI could include:
- An extremely high BAC
- Driving without or on a suspended license
- Excessively speeding while intoxicated
- Having a minor child in the car
- Causing an accident
- Having multiple DUIs over a certain period of time
Being pulled over and charged with DUI, along with any of these aggravating offenses, escalates the penalty structures for the offense.
Understanding DUI Laws in Colorado
Preparing the proper defense for an aggravated DUI in Colorado requires that you first understand the laws and penalties of the state. Like the majority of states, Colorado flags a BAC of .08% or higher for a potential DUI conviction. If your BAC is .17% or higher, the DUI bumps up to aggravated DUI.
Colorado has a zero-tolerance law on the books for any driver under the age of 21. That means if you’re driving impaired, even though you’re not supposed to drink at all under the law, any BAC level in your blood will saddle you with an underage drinking and driving charge.
You may wonder how the police determine if you’ve been drinking. Colorado also has an expressed consent law. That means if you’re driving a car, you have given your implied and expressed consent to submit to a blood-alcohol test, which the police can do on the spot.
It might be tempting to try to refuse this test; legally, you still can. However, if the arresting officer believes there are reasonable indications that you are impaired, and you refuse a chemical test, your license can be revoked for up to a year. The courts may install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your car, a kind of a mini-breathalyzer that you must blow into before you can drive. If the IID finds an elevated BAC, the car won’t start.
What if You’re Convicted of an Aggravated DUI in Colorado?
If you’re impaired while driving and see flashing blue lights in your rearview, call us immediately. We need to do everything possible to help you avoid an aggravated DUI conviction.
Colorado law allows the courts to immediately suspend or revoke your license if you’re convicted, and this is true even on a first-time offense. Even a first-time DUI in our state can come with jail time of up to a year, a fine of up to $1,000, or serious other penalties. But common aggravated DUI penalties include:
- A BAC over .17% will put you in jail for 10-days (mandatory) and suspend your license.
- Having a minor child in the car could get you charged with negligent child abuse in addition to the DUI penalties.
- Causing an accident could also bring a reckless driving charge. If you’ve injured someone, you could be charged with vehicular assault that brings a maximum six-year prison sentence and fines up to $500,000, along with a mandatory five-year license revocation.
- Having multiple DUIs over a certain period of time can land you in prison for up to six years.
If you’re convicted of an aggravated DUI, there are criminal penalties that can include fines, imprisonment, or public service. There are also administrative penalties such as points on your driver’s license that make you pay a lot more for auto insurance. You’ll lose your license, which can create difficulties in getting to work or even landing a job.
Anderson & Carnahan is an experienced Colorado criminal defense firm that is working to protect your rights and freedom. If you’ve been arrested for aggravated DUI, contact us immediately for a free consultation at 1-712-473-9099.