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Did your Colorado vacation result in an unwanted DUI souvenir?

When you planned your trip to Colorado, you likely spent time looking at towns, resorts and rental car companies. You prioritized what you wanted to see on your trip, whether it was the mountains around Boulder or Casa Bonita in Denver. You traveled to Colorado and began enjoying yourself. Unfortunately, law enforcement may have decided that you enjoyed yourself too much.

There are a number of reasons, from medical conditions to malfunctioned equipment, why a person who was not under the influence gets charged with a driving under the influence (DUI) offense. Regardless of the specifics of your situation, you'll be faced with a very serious choice. Should you simply plead guilty to avoid needing to stay in Colorado or repeatedly travel there to fight the charges?

A guilty plea still carries consequences

You may imagine that as a tourist and a first time offender in Colorado, you'll receive lenient treatment. In reality, the courts are likely to assign serious penalties. After all, DUI penalties are as much about deterring future offenses by both you and others as it is about punishing you for the crime.

For those who plead guilty, potential penalties include a fine, jail time and court-ordered community service. Colorado residents get their driving privileges revoked for a period of time after a DUI. The courts may lean more heavily on fines and incarceration in situations where civil penalties, like the revocation of driving privileges, are not possible. If you're ordered to perform community service, it could require traveling back to Colorado repeatedly, which could become expensive and cause a host of other issues.

The higher your blood alcohol content, the worse the penalties

Those with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent or higher could get charged with a driving while ability impaired (DWAI) offense. Those with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher will face standard DUI charges. A first time DWAI offense carries a fine of between $200 and $500, up to 180 days in jail, eight points toward license suspension and up to 48 hours of community service.

A first-time DUI offense can result in up to a year in jail, a fine of between $600 and $1,000, up to 96 hours of community service and loss of licensing for up to nine months. You may think that pleading guilty will make things go away, but you could be dealing with the fallout of that plea for years to come.

Your best option for a positive outcome as an out-of-state visitor facing DUI charges is to fight them. Circumstances vary, but you likely have several options for creating a proactive defense against these serious criminal charges.

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