Drinking and driving is a problem in all 50 states, and Colorado is no exception. More than 26,000 people in Colorado are arrested for driving under the influence each year. Alcohol causes more than 30 percent of traffic fatalities in the state.
In Colorado, police can arrest you for two types of alcohol-related driving offenses. The most common one is driving under the influence (DUI), which means that your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or higher.
However, if your BAC is between 0.05 and 0.08, the charge is driving while ability impaired (DWAI). The state must prove that you were driving impaired, even the slightest degree. Simply having a BAC of 0.05 is not enough to charge you with a crime. If you pass your field sobriety tests, for example, and were driving safely, then you might get your charge dismissed. On the other hand, if the state can prove impairment, they have a strong case. Running red lights, drifting in and out of your lane, and driving recklessly can be evidence of impairment.
In many cases, drinking and driving causes serious accidents. Many innocent victims face injuries or death because of another person’s decision to drink and drive. If you or a loved one was a victim of a DUI accident, seek legal help right away. Contact the experienced Denver car accident lawyers at the Law Office of Steve Roberts, LLC.
A DUI charge is typically a misdemeanor. You will still face a variety of penalties, though. They include license suspension for nine months, up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, alcohol education courses and 96 hours of community service.
However, there are cases when a DUI charge can be a felony. If you are a repeat offender, your fourth and subsequent DUI offenses are felonies. If you cause serious injury or death as a result of a DUI accident, you could face felony charges. You could also face manslaughter and vehicular homicide charges.
If You a Drunk Driver Hits You
If you or a loved one was a victim of an accident caused by a drunk driver, you have several ways to pursue compensation. Due to Colorado statutes of limitations, you will have three years to build a case and file a claim against the insurance company or liable party. You can even take the case to court.
Criminal charges are separate from civil cases. Even if the drunk driver is facing criminal charges, you can pursue a civil case against the person as well. In your case, you will have the opportunity to pursue compensation for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you are a surviving family member pursuing a civil case on behalf of a loved one killed by a drunk driver, you can file a wrongful death claim. You should seek compensation for funeral and burial expenses. You must consider emotional damages such as loss of financial support as well.
To learn more about the process of filing a claim and determine how much compensation you can expect to receive, contact the experienced Denver car accident lawyers at the Law Office of Steve Roberts, LLC.
In DUI cases, injuries may be eligible for exemplary damages. These damages apply if the conduct was “willful and wanton.” Colorado Revised Statute § 13-21-102(1)(b) defines “willful and wanton” as:
Conduct purposefully committed which the actor must have realized as dangerous, done heedlessly and recklessly, without regard to consequences, or of the rights and safety of others, particularly the plaintiff.
To know whether exemplary damages apply to your case, you will have to consult with your attorney.
Colorado Dram Shop Laws
The drunk driver may not be the only person liable for a drunk driving accident. It’s important to consider the possibility of third party liability. In Colorado and more than 40 other states, dram shop laws apply.
Businesses licensed to sell alcohol to customers could be liable if they give alcohol to a person under the age of 21. They are also liable for serving a person of any age who is visibly intoxicated. If the intoxicated person proceeds to injure or kill another person, the bartender or business could be partially responsible. Therefore, bartenders have a responsibility to stop serving alcoholic drinks to intoxicated patrons to avoid negligence claims later.
The rules are a bit different in a private setting. A social host is not burdened with the responsibility of ensuring that guests over the age of 21 stop drinking when they become intoxicated. If the intoxicated guest proceeds to injure another person, the host would not be liable.
However, if someone under the age of 21 were to become intoxicated at the host’s home and cause injury to another person, the host would then become liable. Therefore, hosts have a responsibility to ensure that guests under age 21 are not consuming alcohol in their home.
Seek Legal Help from a Colorado DUI Accident Lawyer
The statute of limitations for motor vehicle accidents in Colorado is three years for a DUI accident. This means that you have three years from the date of the accident to file a legal claim. For a dram shop case, the statute is one year. And, on the off chance that a government entity is involved, you have six months to file a notice about the incident. If you don’t meet these deadlines, you could lose out on all the compensation you’re entitled to receive.
If you or a loved one is facing injuries because of a drunk driver, it’s important that you protect your legal rights. Contact the experienced Denver car accident lawyers at the Law Office of Steve Roberts, LLC. We have helped many victims like yourself recover financial compensation. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (720) 515-7058 or contacting us online.