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Did you come home from a Colorado vacation with a DUI charge?

You probably intended to enjoy your vacation in Colorado: Skiing, hiking, visiting big cities and trekking the mountains are just some of the wonderful activities in the Centennial State. Some people, however, enjoy their time here a little too much. Whether you were drinking incredible craft beers brewed right in Colorado or taking advantage of adult recreational marijuana laws, you could end up with a souvenir you just didn't want.

A driving under the influence (DUI) charge in another city or state is no small matter. Colorado takes DUI offenses quite seriously, and a conviction could impact you for weeks or months. Traveling back and forth to another city or state for trial could impact your job, your income and your mental health. Simply pleading guilty could also have a profound impact on your future by saddling you with a criminal record.

You could face a DUI without having been truly impaired

There are many compounding factors in any DUI or impaired driving case. With alcohol, there are a number of potential issues that could result in inaccurate charges, ranging from medical conditions to a poorly calibrated breath test unit. You may not have know that the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) in Colorado is only 0.05 percent, while it is 0.08 percent in every other state. If you frequently drink, your BAC could reach 0.05 percent without you actually experiencing any kind of impairment behind the wheel.

Similarly, blood tests for marijuana impairment are not always that reliable. Colorado has placed a volume-based limit on the presence of THC, the intoxicating active compound in marijuana. However, people who regularly use marijuana may drive without any impairment at levels well beyond the state's limit of just five nanograms of THC in your blood. While the test reportedly looks for "active" THC, you could still have a positive test the day after consuming marijuana while no longer impacted by it.

Know the potential penalties for a conviction and your options

If you find yourself accused of driving with a BAC of between 0.05 and 0.08 percent, you could face a fine of between $200 and $500, as well as up to 180 days in jail and 48 hours of community service. For those accused of their first DUI offense in Colorado with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, the consequences could be up to a year in jail, a fine of between $600 and $1,000 and 96 hours of community service. There are also many other expenses related to a DUI that you could incur.

The penalties also include points toward your license for those with lower BACs or loss of your license for as long as nine months for those with a BAC over 0.08 percent. Because these penalties will have little impact on out-of-state drivers, the judge may be more likely to assign you jail time and the maximum fine.

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