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I was arrested for drunk driving in CO. When can I get my license back?

An arrest for drunk driving in Colorado can come with serious penalties. Although state law considers a first, second and third offenses misdemeanors, a conviction can still come with jail time. In fact, a second offense can lead to a minimum of ten days in jail and a third at least 60 days in jail.

The exact penalties will vary depending on the details of the allegations and extend far beyond potential jail time. These penalties generally include revocation of the driver’s license for nine months after a first offense, a year after a second and two years after a third.

There are ways to get back on the road sooner, such as agreeing to the installation of an ignition interlock device on the driver’s vehicle. This is an important option for those who rely on their vehicles to get to work or attend classes. Unfortunately, even those who agree to an ignition interlock device are unlikely to get their license back immediately. Under current law the driver may still find themselves waiting a month or more before they can get back on the road.

Do drivers really need to wait months before getting their license back?

In some cases this is true, but lawmakers are looking to change this. Senators John Cooke and Chris Hansen along with House Representatives Dylan Roberts and Hugh McKean recently announced a proposal that would help drivers in this type of situation get back on the road more quickly. The lawmakers state the proposal serves two purposes: it will help drivers get back on the road while also better ensuring the safety of the state’s roadways.

Those in favor of this proposal include prosecutors as well as public defenders, criminal justice reform advocates and even leaders within the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization. Why such a wide group of supporters, particularly those who tend to push for more harsh driving under the influence (DUI) penalties? Likely because although the proposal increases the chances that drivers can get back on the road, it also comes with harsh monitoring measures. These monitoring measures are what the lawmakers are using to argue passage of the law will help better ensure safe roadways.

How are the proposed monitoring efforts different from current practice?

Current law allows a judge to order continuous alcohol monitoring during the probation period after a second DUI. The new proposal would require monitoring after the third offense unless the judge believes that doing so is not in the “interest of justice.”

Monitoring is not cheap, and the cost is often the responsibility of the driver. These expenses include all associated costs and can average up to $10/day. Advocates argue the threat of increased monitoring and associated costs will deter drivers from getting behind the wheel after drinking.

It is important to note that the proposal is currently under consideration, it is not yet law.

What if I face charges of drunk driving in Colorado?

Drivers in Colorado, like in most states, agree to the Express Consent Law. This basically means that the state requires drivers take a chemical test if an officer has reasonable grounds to believe the driver is operating their vehicle while under the influence.

Drivers that are in this situation have rights, and a violation of those rights is serious. The court may not allow admission of evidence gathered in violation of the driver’s rights. As such, it is wise to reach out to an attorney to review the stop and charges to make sure your rights were protected throughout the process. A review of the procedure used could impact when you get your license back as well as the type of charges the state can pursue.