Every state in the nation has adopted a .08 percent blood-alcohol content (BAC) driving limit. If you've had too many drinks, and your BAC is .08 percent or higher, you could get arrested and charged with driving under the influence.
This is true in Colorado just as it's true in any other state. However, Colorado has another standard that drivers need to be aware of. You can get pulled over and charged with a lesser offense -- Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) -- if your BAC is .05 percent.
Should Colorado and other states increase penalties for a .05 percent BAC?
In most states, a .05 percent BAC is perfectly legal. Drivers that register a .05 percent BAC on a Breathalyzer test, for example, can continue driving lawfully. This begs the question, are Colorado's BAC laws fair? Should Colorado drivers also be permitted to operate their vehicles when their BACs are under .08 percent?
There is a considerable amount of controversy that surrounds this issue. Proponents of stricter drunk driving laws laud Colorado for its .05 percent standard, saying that the state should elevate the severity of driving with a .05 percent BAC to the level of a full DUI. Proponents use the example of over 100 countries throughout the world that have DUI limits of .05 percent. Even the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is pushing for states to adopt a .05 percent standard.
Is someone with a .05 percent BAC really too drunk to drive?
In a recent NTSB report, statistics show that "the majority of alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal crashes have BAC levels well over .08." However, the NTSB argues that if states lower BAC limits to .05 percent, it will serve to change the behavior of drivers to the degree that they're less likely to drive at such elevated levels of .08 percent.
In Australia, for example -- which has a .05 percent BAC -- the county showed that lowering its DUI limits from .08 percent served to decrease its DUI fatalities by 18 percent.
How to avoid getting convicted of DUI and DWAI in Colorado
There's one sure way to avoid a DUI or DWAI conviction in Colorado. Never drive after drinking any quantity of alcohol. If you are facing alcohol-related driving charges, however, it's important to remember that just because you were charged does not mean that you will be found guilty. You can still defend yourself against your drunk driving charges in court.