2013 saw 3 big changes to Colorado DUI law

Nearly everyone understands that it is against the law in Colorado to drive under the influence of alcohol or other mind-altering substances. However, few people realize just how complex Colorado DUI law is, and how often it changes.

It is for this reason that it is so advisable to consult with an experienced Colorado DUI defense lawyer when a person is charged with intoxicated driving. An experienced attorney will keep up with changes in the law to ensure a person is presented with all available options for resolution of the charges.

With that said, every driver can benefit from having a basic understanding of the law. This year, Colorado lawmakers enacted three major changes to the state's DUI laws.

Traffic stop revocation hearings

The first change restored the right of drivers suspected of DUI to challenge the legitimacy of a traffic stop at a DMV hearing. In DUI cases, these hearings are typically used to revoke a person's driver's license. Challenging the stop is an important defense tool for individuals who may have been pulled over even though there was not reasonable suspicion to believe that they were committing a crime.

The opportunity to contest the constitutionality of a traffic stop at a DMV hearing had previously been eliminated in a ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Ignition interlock changes

The second piece of legislation provides drivers who have had their licenses suspended as a result of refusing a breath or blood alcohol test with an opportunity to get their ability to drive restored earlier than was previously allowed. The law only applies to first offenses. Under it, drivers would be able to reinstate their licenses after two months, so long as they agree to use an ignition interlock device for two years.

Without the change, all drivers who refuse a test would have their licenses suspended for at least one year, regardless of the outcome of their criminal case.

Stoned driving laws

The final change comes in the wake of Colorado's decision to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The legislation establishes a "legal limit" for stoned driving of five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. However, since marijuana tolerance varies from user to user, individuals suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana will have an opportunity to demonstrate that they were not impaired even though their blood THC concentration was over the limit.

Getting help from a DUI defense attorney

If you or a loved one is facing Colorado DUI charges, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced defense attorney before making any statements to law enforcement. The attorney will be able to work with you to ensure that your rights are protected and that you mount the strongest defense possible.