Denver, CO DUI Accident Lawyers and Denver CODrunk Driving Accident Attorneys
Drunk Driving is still the #1 cause of death on United States (U.S.) Roadways.
It is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to drive while under the influence of alcohol, or other drugs that could impair driving capabilities. Some states refer to this illegal action as DUI (driving under the influence), and others as DWI (driving while intoxicated), but it is a serious charge with high stakes punishments attached to it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that roughly 40 percent of all U.S. traffic deaths are alcohol-related to some degree. Criminal lawyers across the country may be able to help drivers who are charged with DUI and personal injury lawyers could assist accident victims who have been catastrophically injured, or killed by the actions of a drunk driver necessitating the services of wrongful death attorney.
Drinking and driving is a deadly combination that frequently occurs across the United States, despite stringent guidelines and federal and state laws against it. When individuals make the poor decision to get behind the wheel of an automobile after drinking, they could get arrested, or become involved in a traffic crash that causes serious injury, or death. Over the past decade NHTSA reported approximately a quarter of a million people were killed in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes and more than 650,000 persons were injured in those crashes. Personal injury attorneys can help victims navigate their way through insurance settlements and court cases involving drunk driving.
Laws against drunk driving originated in 1906, shortly after cars were invented and New Jersey was the first state to enact a law stating that “no intoxicated person shall drive a motor vehicle.” It was punishable by a fine of up to $500, or up to 60 days in county jail. After that, other states began to follow suit, and although early laws required proof of intoxication, they did not stipulate what level of inebriation qualified as proof. New York created its own law against driving while intoxicated in 1910, but it was not amended until 1941 to specify that the arrested person must be found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15% or higher within two hours of arrest, which remained the generally-accepted BAC value for a long time. Blood alcohol levels are measured with a breathalyzer, or by a blood test.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s data revealed that drunk driving arrests between the years of 1970 and 1986 increased by 127%, despite the much lower number in the rise of licensed drivers at 42% over that same time period. The laws became significantly stricter during this time period due to pressures from special interest groups including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), leading to increased zero-tolerance laws that criminalized drunk driving behavior.
- MADD – the mission of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes, and prevent underage drinking.
- SADD – the mission of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) is accomplished by creating, equipping, and sustaining a network of student-run chapters in schools and communities focused on peer-to-peer education. SADD fosters a sense of belonging and promotes resiliency, leadership, and advocacy skills so that young people make positive life decisions that will carry them throughout life.
Currently, approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers (with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher). The ten-year period average between 2009 and 2018 revealed an average of 10,000 deaths attributed to drunk driving crashes. In 2018, there were 10,511 people killed in these preventable crashes.
Motor vehicle crashes take the lives of more men than women, as men drive more miles per day and engage risky driving practices more often, such as failure to use safety belts, driving while impaired by alcohol, and speeding. Data from 2018 revealed that fatal crashes involve more men (21%) compared to women (14%).
Age and partying venue as factors.
- Vehicular collisions are the leading cause of death for minors.
- In 2017, 2,364 teens in the United States aged 16-19 were killed, and about 300,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes.
- In 2017, 16 to 24 year-olds comprised 42% of the drivers killed in alcohol-related crashes.
- During 2017, the highest percentage of drunk drivers were 21- to 24-year-olds, at 27%, followed by 25- to 34-year-olds.
- Almost 2,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from unintentional alcohol-related injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.
Federal DUI laws are strong and strictly enforced in Federal courts, carrying serious charges and penalties. President Clinton signed Federal DUI laws into existence in 2000 that set a new national standard for drunken driving by changing the BAC legal limit to 0.08 to save American lives. States that refused to adhere to the federal standard would lose federal highway construction funds. At that point in time, 31 states had a 0.10 BAC, or did not specify an amount. The laws were established to complement state drunk driving laws and apply to drunk drivers on federal lands including military bases and national parks. Even though it is illegal to drive drunk in every state with a BAC of .08 or higher, one person was killed in a drunk-driving crash every 50 minutes in the United States in 2018.
Federal law mandates that states adopt open container and repeat offender laws meeting specific requirements. Otherwise, a portion of the state’s surface transportation funding is transferred to the state DOT or State Highway Safety Office. Thirty-eight states, D.C. and 3 territories have open container laws that meet federal requirements. Thirty-three states, D.C. and 3 territories have repeat offender laws which meet federal requirements.
State laws vary regarding DUI outcomes. Utah is the only state that has a different BAC than other states. Effective December 30, 2018, Utah’s BAC was set at 0.05.%. 44 states, D.C. and Guam have increased penalties for drivers convicted at higher BACs (specific levels and penalties vary by state). Forty-eight states, D.C., the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands have administrative license suspension (ALS) for a first time offender, where this law allows confiscation of a driver’s license for failing a chemical test with limitations specific to work-related travel in some instances. All states have some type of ignition interlock program when a judge may require all, or some convicted drunk drivers to install interlocks in their cars to disable the engine if alcohol is detected on their breath. 31 states and four California counties have made ignition interlocks mandatory, or highly incentivized for all convicted drunk drivers, even first-time offenders. Seven states require them for repeat offenders; and eight states require them for both high BAC and repeat offenders. Four states allow discretionary use of ignition interlock devices. The remaining 4 states make interlocks discretionary. It is best for anyone who has been charged with DUI in Denver Colorado, or been involved in a drunk driving accident in Denver CO to seek experienced legal counsel who knows the laws of the particular state where the incident occurred.
Take actions against drunk driving in Denver CO.
- Always choose a non-drinking designated driver
- If you go out alone, do not drink alcohol. Order a non-alcoholic beverage such as a soft drink or water.
- Never feel pressured to drink alcohol. If you do plan on drinking, do so responsibly. Eat plenty of food and drink water.
- If you have been drinking, call a taxi or car-sharing service for a ride, like Uber or Lyft.
- Never get in a car with a driver who has been drinking.
- Protect others by taking their keys if they attempt to drive after consuming alcohol. They may be mad at you, but the alternative is much worse.
Educate and maintain awareness.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Governors Highway Safety Association are a few of the data gathering entities that provide up-to-date statistics about alcohol-impaired, or drug-impaired driving, offer materials for campaigns against impaired driving, and prepare case studies of effective practices to stop alcohol-impaired driving.
Consequences can last a lifetime.
The consequences of a first-offense DUI, DWI, or OUI in Denver CO vary by state for the act of driving while drunk. Common penalties include jail time, community service, fines, license suspension, and having to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in an offender’s vehicle. The minimum penalties for a first-offense DUI in Denver CO are often increased if an individual has a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) (usually .15% or more), or was involved in an drunk driving accident in Denver CO that left another person injured, caused wrongful death, or left the scene of the accident. Drunk driving accident charges in Denver Colorado can include:
- Damage to property or person in Denver CO of another is considered a misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a “lesser” crime in the United States with less severe penalties than felonies, but more severe punishments than infractions. Generally, misdemeanors are crimes for which the maximum sentence is 12 months or less. Misdemeanor convictions appear on a person’s criminal record. It also may be legally required to disclose the particularities of the crime during job interviews, on college applications, when applying for the military or government jobs, and on loan applications. Infractions may appear on a person’s driving record, but not on their criminal record. In most states, a person who receives their first or second DUI is charged with a misdemeanor, while the third or subsequent offense is a felony. However, in some states, if there is property damage or serious bodily injury the penalty jumps to a felony. An experienced DUI attorney can help to sort this out with the courts on an individual’s behalf.
- DUI manslaughter in Denver CO causing death to any other human is considered a felony. DUI manslaughter occurs when a person that has consumed alcohol or drugs drives a motor vehicle and gets into an accident where another person is killed. When DUI death occurs to other individuals besides the impaired driver, the driver may receive a DUI manslaughter charge.
Driving a vehicle while impaired is a dangerous crime. Tough enforcement of drunk-driving laws has been a major factor in reducing drunk-driving deaths since the 1980s. Charges range from misdemeanors to felony offenses, and penalties for impaired driving can include driver’s license revocation, fines, and jail time. An arrest for even a first-time DUI offense in Denver CO can cost the driver upwards of $10,000 in fines and legal fees. Some states require offenders to install ignition interlock devices at the driver’s own expense. An ignition interlock device is a breath test device connected to a vehicle’s ignition. The vehicle will not start unless the driver blows into the interlock and has a BAC below a pre-set low limit, usually .02 g/dL. NHTSA strongly supports the expansion of ignition interlocks as a proven technology that keeps drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.
Getting a DUI conviction in Denver CO is one of the more costly mistakes a driver can make. A DUI violation in Denver COmay increase insurance rates by 71.0%. There are certain high risk insurance policies and mandatory paperwork that must be filled out, such as an SR-22, a certification that states the insurance policy an individual buys meets state requirements. Individuals can lose their driver’s license, face jail time and legal fees, as well as having an ignition interlock installed in cars, or in the worst case scenario cause death to another person and live with that for their lifetime, which may include jail time.
Seek legal counsel Denver CO.
A drunk driver’s actions immediately after a crash can build a defense platform of a case against them. The penalties for drunk driving depend on factors including blood alcohol level, age, and repeat offender status to name a few. When an individual is involved in a drunk driving accident in Denver CO, or others have been injured by a drunk driver, it is best to contact legal counsel to map out strategies in court for either scenario.