A driving under the influence (DUI) charge can be nerve-wracking enough, but sometimes after a drinking and driving arrest you see two charges: DUI and DUI per se.
But can you really be charged twice for the same traffic stop? The answer: Yes.
Using scientific proof
In Colorado, DUI per se means that you had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more within two hours of driving, which is typically proven through a blood or breath test. Alternatively, a DUI simply means that your consumption of alcohol has made you substantially incapable of safely operating a vehicle.
So, while BAC test results are needed to prove a DUI per se charge, a prosecutor doesn’t need a BAC test for you to be found guilty of DUI. In many cases, a DUI charge is based solely on the police officer’s observations, such as the smell of alcohol on your breath or your performance in certain roadside sobriety tests.
Simply put, these two offenses are independent of each other, and you can be charged and convicted of both, even if they arise out of the same traffic stop.
Per se in the courtroom
However, even if a jury were to find you guilty of both DUI and DUI per se, the second DUI charge would merge into the first one and you would have one conviction on your record, not two.
Even if it is only one conviction, all it takes is one to severely alter your life. Understanding how DUI laws work and the defense needed in court is difficult, and you don’t need to go through it alone.