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Who gets a persistent drunk driving designation in Colorado?

Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes people face criminal consequences for those mistakes. One common decision that people make that winds up creating trouble is the decision to get behind the wheel after having a few drinks. Most people learn their lesson after getting caught once for this kind of offense.

However, there are many people who will habitually choose to get behind the wheel after drinking. These individuals put other people on the road at risk routinely, and that creates a burden on law enforcement and motor vehicle insurance systems.

In order to deter people from drunk driving repeatedly, Colorado has created a new designation for certain offenders, called persistent drunk driving designation. Many times, this designation refers to the number of past offenses. In certain situations, someone accused of a single impaired driving offense could end up labeled as a persistent drunk driver.

High blood alcohol content could result in a designation

Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is a measurement of the volume of alcohol in your bloodstream. Generally speaking, the state imposes a standard limit on BAC, regardless of whether the driver feels impaired. The standard BAC for drunk driving charges in any state, including Colorado, is 0.08 percent. However, many people get arrested with a BAC significantly higher than that legal limit.

Some states refer to offenders that fall into this category as "super drunk." In Colorado, a substantially higher BAC can result in designation as a persistent drunk driver. The legal limit for a BAC resulting in a persistent drunk driver designation used to be 0.17 percent. However, lawmakers changed the law, reducing that limit to 0.15 percent. Those with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher can expect a designation of persistent drunk driver and all the consequences that come with it.

Refusing a breath test can also result in a designation as a persistent offender

During a roadside traffic stop, the person who got pulled over may choose to refuse a chemical test. After all, law enforcement cannot compel you to provide evidence against yourself or take bodily fluids without your consent, barring a court order. This leads some people to assume there are no consequences for refusing to do a chemical test.

As of 2014, those who refuse a chemical test during a traffic stop will likely wind up with a persistent drunk driver designation. This can create more issues for them as they move through the criminal justice system.

The circumstances of a pending impaired driving charge are critical to developing a defense. If you are at risk of getting designated as a persistent drunk driver, it could impact everything from your ability to find a good job to the cost you pay for automobile insurance. Educating yourself about your options now is your best chance of mitigating the consequences of these pending charges.

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