Colorado Has A Drinking Problem

ignition interlock When the state of Colorado legalized marijuana in 2013, they opened the door to the possibility of an increase in drug-related crashes, injuries, and deaths. But what they might not have realized at the time is that alcohol was going to continue to pose a far greater danger to the people of Colorado and other mountain states.

A study released last year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that these areas have the highest alcohol-related death rates in the country. In the report, the CDC looked at 54 different causes of death linked to alcohol consumption including motor vehicle crashes, binge-drinking, violence, and alcohol poisoning. Colorado and it’s neighboring states logged some of the most alcohol-related fatalities, coming in several points higher than the national average of 1 in 10 alcohol-related deaths.

Take Colorado’s motor vehicle crash statistics as an example of how alcohol is killing people in the state – according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), there were 142 alcohol-related traffic deaths in Colorado in the past year, and that number was up by 6% from the year before. To fight back against the number of drunk driving deaths, lawmakers have passed an all offender ignition interlock law and they now allow a shorter license suspension period for those people who opt to immediately install an ignition interlock after a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction.

The CDC’s findings that excessive drinking is one of the leading causes of premature death for working-age adults is disturbing, especially in states like Colorado where people are literally drinking themselves to death. They recommend all states try to curb alcohol-related deaths by going straight to the source – regulating alcohol stores and increasing state alcohol taxes, so purchasing that bottle of beer or wine becomes harder for those who want to drink it.

Man Sacrifices His Life To Stop Colorado Drunk Driver

colorado dui Colorado alcohol-related fatalities may have dropped by 53% over the past 13 years, but there are still people killed on Colorado roads every year because someone made the choice to drive drunk.

Public awareness campaigns are promoted by law enforcement and other organizations to teach people how to spot drunk drivers when they’re on the roads, and people can and do call in suspected drunk drivers when they see them. Unfortunately for one man, he decided to do more than call in a driver to the police – he took it one step further and lost his life trying to stop a Colorado drunk driver.

Police were called out to a domestic disturbance and arrived to find a woman had crashed her vehicle into a tree with her partner on the hood. He had jumped on the hood of the car to try to stop her from driving under the influence (DUI), and after she crashed he suffered critical injuries and died.

The driver was charged with suspicion of vehicular homicide, DUI, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, and driving with a suspended license. In addition to the penalties she’ll receive for vehicular homicide and other charges, violating Colorado DUI laws will add additional fines, longer license suspensions, and if she’s ever licensed to drive again, a mandatory ignition interlock device.

It’s a tragic outcome, and all because someone made the choice to drink and drive. If you think you’ve spotted a drunk driver, here are a few tips from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to keep you safe:

  • Don’t approach the vehicle. Stay as far away from it as you possibly can
  • If you are driving beside someone you suspect of drunk driving, don’t try to pass the vehicle or signal the person inside
  • Obtain the license plate, make, and model of the vehicle. If you have a passenger, ask them to write it down for you. If you don’t, try to memorize the plate number
  • Safely pull over and call 911. They’ll ask for the location of the vehicle and a description

For more information on how Colorado is working to keep drunk drivers off the roads, take a look this post on what happens if you are in an alcohol-related crash in Colorado.

The Worst Outcome – Colorado Repeat Offender Causes Fatal Crash

ignition interlock There’s a reason why repeat drunk drivers receive harsh penalties – each time they get behind the wheel it becomes more and more likely they could injure or kill themselves or someone else.

Case in point? A suspected Colorado drunk driver with eight prior driving under the influence (DUI) arrests was involved in a two-vehicle crash recently that took his life and the lives of an entire family. The truck he was driving crossed the center line and plowed into a Honda minivan, and out of the 5 people involved, only one survived.

It’s a tragic outcome that happens all too often because of repeat offenders, and it’s a case that should stand out when lawmakers sit down and take a look at repeat offender laws in Colorado. The current law states that if you have 3 or more DUI or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) convictions in the state, you’ll receive up to one year in prison, pay fines up to $1,500, lose your driver’s license for 2 years, and be required to install an ignition interlock device.

In contrast, states like Florida with even harsher repeat offender laws will send offenders to jail for up to 5 years if the offense occur with a 10 year period, they will have their vehicle impounded for 90 days, and for a fourth conviction, they will lose their license permanently with no hope of receiving a hardship license.

More and more states are signing all offender ignition interlock bills to stop first offenders from becoming repeat offenders, and it’s working – statistics show that ignition interlock devices reduce the likelihood that drunk drivers will drive intoxicated again by 67%. That’s a lot of potential lives saved, all because the power of choice is taken away from someone who constantly makes the decision to drink and drive.

If You Received A DUI Conviction In Colorado, You Better Read This

ignition interlock It’s a fact that repeat drunk drivers are a big problem in the United States. If you’ve watched how driving under the influence (DUI) laws have progressed over the past few years, you know that lawmakers are working to improve penalties like jail time and ignition interlock laws so they can reduce the likelihood that a drunk driver will drive drunk again.

Most states require a repeat offender to be charged with a felony after they’ve been caught drinking and driving several times over a period of years, and now Colorado, one of the only states without a felony DUI law for repeat offenders, is jumping on board.

Right now, if you’re a repeat DUI offender in Colorado you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor and will receive up to one year in jail, pay $1,500 in fines, and lose your driver’s license for one year. You’ll also be required to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle you drive.

If House Bill 15-243 passes in Colorado, it will be considered an automatic felony to receive 3 DUIs within 7 years, and you’ll also receive a felony if:

  • You’re caught driving drunk with a minor in the vehicle
  • If you cause harm to someone or damage property
  • Leave the scene of a crash
  • If you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than .15.

Anyone who receives a second DUI in Colorado will also be required to use an ignition interlock device for a period of time between two and five years.

According to data Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) published in 2008, there were over 2 million three time or more repeat DUI offenders on the roads. That’s a lot of drunk drivers who make the choice to drink and drive over and over again. If Colorado makes repeat DUI offenses a felony, they are taking a positive step in the fight to end drunk driving.

What Happens If I Fail An Interlock Device Breath Test In Colorado?

ignition interlock When it comes to ignition interlock devices, the state of Colorado has some of the toughest laws around. You’ll be required to install an ignition interlock device if you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), refused to submit to a breathalyzer test, or you’re considered a habitual traffic offender. That means if you are convicted of 3 offenses over a 7 year period of time, including DUI, driving while ability impaired (DWAI) or reckless driving, your driver’s license will be revoked for 5 years and you’ll be required to install an ignition interlock device upon application for a restricted license.

When you have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, you’re required to submit breath tests before your vehicle will start and submit a breath sample once your vehicle is in motion. But what happens if you submit a breath test and you receive a fail?

If you attempt to blow into your interlock device and you receive a fail, your car won’t start. If your vehicle is in motion and you fail a rolling retest, the vehicle’s horn will sound and your lights will flash until you safely pull over and turn off your vehicle. All data from your interlock device will be compiled and submitted to Guardian Interlock when you bring your vehicle in for servicing, so any fails logged on your interlock device are kept track of.

In Colorado, you must bring your interlock device in for calibration every 60 days. If the data submitted shows alcohol was detected 3 times in a 12-month period, you may receive additional time added to your license suspension and additional time added to your interlock program. According to Colorado ignition interlock law, you may be required to add one year to your program for each set of 3 fails.

Failing a breath test in Colorado is never a good idea, so stay sober and always make the decision to hand over the keys to a sober driver if you’ve been drinking.

How Much Booze Must You Drink To Overload a Breathalyzer?

meter showing alcohol percentagesWhen you’re out with friends, having a few drinks and having a good time, how do you know when to stop drinking? Most people who have drank alcohol before know how to set a limit on how much they consume, because if they don’t they’ll get sick or out of control.

Although a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is considered legally intoxicated and can result in double vision, impaired coordination, and slurred speech, some people don’t stop there. That’s why you routinely hear of repeat driving under the influence (DUI) offenders with blood alcohol concentrations of double or triple the legal limit.

But as a Colorado woman just realized, there is a limit to what your body can handle, even if you don’t have a personal threshold for when to stop drinking. A BAC of .4 is considered lethal, and hitting that limit can result in your death, yet she was driving and arrested for DUI with a BAC of .44. That’s 5 times the legal limit for driving in Colorado. When the arresting officer tried to perform the breathalyzer test, her BAC was so high it actually caused the device to malfunction.

No, she didn’t die from alcohol intoxication, but she was arrested and taken to jail for DUI. Although it’s not known if this was her first offense or if she was a repeat offender in Colorado, she could spend up to one year in jail, pay fines up to $1,500, hand over her driver’s license for a one year suspension, and if she’s a second or subsequent offender, will be required to install a car breathalyzer.

Drinking alcohol is a fun pastime for most Americans, but you should also know that like anything in life, there are always limits. In large quantities, alcohol can kill. Part of drinking responsibly is knowing when to stop, and you should never forget that drinking and driving is always a bad idea.

Crashing In Colorado? An Ignition Interlock Will Be Waiting For You

drive safely signColorado has been popping up in the news a lot lately. The first state to legalize marijuana, there have been a lot of publications taking on the issue of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and the crashes caused by people who made that choice. From a 7 car pileup caused by an intoxicated driver to a Colorado State University student involved in an alcohol-related hit and run, the stories from the state seem to come in at a steady pace.

Because there appears to be non-stop crashes and after 500 people died on Colorado Highways in 2013, Colorado State Police decided to implement the Zero/Zero campaign. Aimed at bringing down the number of fatal crashes, the campaign was designed to step up law enforcement and reduce distracted driving and driving under the influence (DUI).

3 fatal crashes in 24 hours

Although the campaign was launched this past weekend, their goal of zero crashes was unobtainable after they logged three fatal crashes in 24 hours. The police did manage to stop over 700 cars and issue 389 tickets including 21 drivers who were stopped for DUI. They also attended 5 crashes caused specifically by drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

It’s surprising that Colorado has such a high rate of crash fatalities considering they have ignition interlock and driving under the influence laws. In the state you can be charged with DUI with alcohol or drugs or driving while ability impaired (DWAI). Both have different penalties depending on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) but even a first offense can net you a year in jail, fines up to $1000, and the possibility of an ignition interlock installation.

Although the Zero/Zero campaign could be deemed unsuccessful because of the amount of crashes that occurred, law enforcement in the state are successful in that they are stepping up patrols, requiring ignition interlock devices for drunk drivers, and trying new things to get a handle on the overall problem of DUI with drugs or alcohol.

If you’d like more information on Colorado’s DUI and ignition interlock laws, you can find it at Guardian Interlock’s Colorado State page.


Ignition Interlock And Drunk Driving Laws In Colorado

ignition interlockThere’s a lot to do in Colorado if you’re looking for fun, fresh air, and the great outdoors, but the fun will end very abruptly if you’re caught drinking and driving.

Colorado drinking and driving laws include a driving under the influence (DUI) offense and a driving while ability impaired (DWAI) offense. A DUI offense occurs when you drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, and a DWAI offense occurs when you have a BAC between .05 and .08.

A first offense for both DUI and DWAI in Colorado has penalties including:

  • Up to 1 year in jail for DUI and 180 days for DWAI
  • Fines up to $1000 for DUI and $500 for DWAI
  • 9 month license suspension for DUI, and no license suspension for DWAI

Although you will receive a 9 month license suspension for your first DUI offense in Colorado, after 1 month you have the option to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle and receive a restricted drivers license.

For a second DUI or DWAI offense in Colorado, penalties will include:

  • Up to 1 year in jail for both DUI and DWAI
  • $1500 in fines for both DUI and DWAI
  • License suspension for 1 year for both DUI and DWAI
  • An ignition interlock installation for both DUI and DWAI

Anyone who has had their license suspended for 1 year may be eligible for a restricted license before their suspension is up if they install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

Colorado doesn’t have a lookback period where a previous DUI or DWAI is no longer relevant for penalty purposes, so any DUI or DWAI charge on record will affect just how severe your penalties are.

Colorado also had a distinction for those who have a BAC of 0.17 or greater. Classified as a ‘persistent drunk driver’ these individuals are subject to DUI penalties and even first offenders will be required to use an ignition interlock device for 1 year.

It’s a great place to live and an even better place to visit, but when heading to Colorado be sure to stay safe and drive sober.

License Suspension for DUI?
It Just. Doesn’t. Work.

A Colorado study confirms the bad news: license suspension does not work as a punishment for DUI. The number of motorists cited for drunken driving who are driving without a valid license is an astonishing one in four.

license suspension doesn't work for duiRocky Mountain PBS I-News and 9News analyzed electronic court records of more than 45,000 DUIs issued in Colorado from April 2012 through April 2014. Almost 11,000 of that group should not have been driving, due to a license that was suspended, restricted or revoked. That’s an average of 15 a day.

It’s common to hear well-intentioned people demand that drunk drivers lose their license altogether. The problem is, a license is just a piece of paper. People who drink and drive often ignore suspended or revoked licenses. After a week or a month of suspension, they decide that the inconvenience of not driving outweighs the consequences of being caught without a license – even that of being caught driving impaired without a license.

Moreover, these people are dangerous. Driving impaired, and often uninsured, they pose a risk to everyone on the road.

There is hope of change. At the beginning of 2014 Colorado passed a law that allows first-time DUI offenders to regain their license with the use of an ignition interlock, a device which presents a common-sense solution to the ignition interlocks save livesproblem. An ignition interlock prevents a car from starting if the driver’s breath alcohol concentration (BAC) is above a preset level. Usually a camera records the breath test, so that the offender cannot cheat. Repeat tests are given during a typical journey so that the driver can’t drink after starting the car.

The use of ignition interlocks appears counterintuitive to those who feel that license suspension is a more appropriate punishment for drunken driving. And perhaps it would be – if a lack of license really kept impaired drivers off the roads. But the Colorado study shows that it doesn’t. As long as people ignore DUI laws and license suspensions, ignition interlocks are the way to go.