Colorado’s Legislature has made several new and important changes to the drinking and driving laws as they related to the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) authority to suspend a motorist’s license for a DUI or DWAI. These new laws go into effect on January 01, 2014. If a driver is charged with Driving under the Influence (DUI) or Driving while Ability Impaired (DWAI), the new changes to the law may allow a motorist to get their driving privileges reinstated earlier in some case. The new changes are highlighted below:
1. New changes for a refusal to cooperate or to take a blood or breath test allow for early reinstatement of driving privileges for a 1st offense refusal. Prior to January 01, 2014, if a driver is arrested for DUI and refuses to take a breath or a blood test after being advised of Colorado’s Express Consent Law, that driver will lose his or her license for a period of 1 year. The driver will not be allowed to obtain a probationary license and will not get early reinstatement. Under the new law, a driver can now reinstate their driver’s license with a probationary license and the interlock ignition system after 2 months. Early reinstatement of driving privileges will require the driver to have an ignition interlock installed in their vehicle for 2 years.
2. The new law now lowers the blood alcohol content (BAC) level for a Persistent Drunk Driver (PDD) from 0.170 to 0.150. Prior to January 01, 2014, a driver who takes a blood or breath test that results in a BAC of 0.170 or greater for a 1st offense is required to have a restricted license with the ignition interlock for a period of 2 years after reinstatement. On or after January 01, 2014, the Persistent Drunk Driver threshold is now reduced to 0.150 or greater, requiring a restricted license with the ignition interlock for 2 years after reinstatement.
3. The new law also changes the early reinstatement period for a second or subsequent per se alcohol revocation for a BAC of 0.08 or greater. Prior to January 01, 2014 a second or subsequent per se revocation for a BAC of 0.08 or greater requires a 1 year license revocation with no driving. The driver is only eligible for early reinstatement with the ignition interlock after 1 year of no driving. After January 01, 2014, a driver with a second or subsequent per se revocation may early reinstate with an ignition interlock restricted license after 1 month of no driving.
4. After January 01, 2014 a driver may challenge legality of the stop at a DMV license revocation hearing. Currently, the reason for the stop cannot be challenged at a DMV express consent hearing. If the arresting officer had no lawful reason to contact the driver, then all the subsequent evidence illegally obtained must be suppressed.