Under current law, a driver that refuses a test in Colorado faces one year of no driving if he or she is revoked at a DMV hearing. If revoked for a year, there is no opportunity for a probationary license, red-license, hardship license, or early reinstatement with the restriction of an ignition interlock device.
This will change in 2014. Under new law effective January 1, a driver with no prior alcohol related offenses, such as DUI or DWAI, who loses his or her driver’s license for a year based on a refusal will be eligible to reinstate with an ignition interlock device after two months of no-driving. This is relief for a DUI offender that is not offered under current law.
It is also believed that offenders currently suffering a revocation for a refusal in Colorado will be allowed to reinstate their driver’s license come the new year on condition that they have served at least two months of the revocation.
All new Colorado DUI laws for 2014 do not favor the defendant. A driver with a BAC of .15 or more will face to-years of driving restricted to the condition of an ignition interlock device, which is a device attached to the ignition in a vehicle to prevent it from starting if a driver has alcohol on his or her breath. Under current law, drivers with a BAC of .17 or more face this additional interlock restriction. The excess BAC, or a prior offense, will classify someone as a “persistent drunk driver.”
The new DUI laws were part of the Legislative Session of 2013 that also brought the marijuana permissive inference limit as well as the reinstatement of a driver’s right to challenge the reasonableness of the police contact at a DMV hearing. Under the new laws, a jury may infer that a driver was under the influence of marijuana if a blood test shows results of 5 nanograms or more of THC. This new language to the DUI law has a tortured history and had been voted down in the past due to the controversy over the lack of scientific studies that back this limit.
Not withstanding the dubious THC DUI limit, the new laws regarding driving under the influence in Colorado are mostly positive. Taking someone’s drover’s license away for a year on a first offense is harsh when considering that the result for most people will mean the loss of employment. The relief provided will allow people to drive that otherwise would not have been able to due to a DUI arrest.