September 19, 2023
No one wants to get pulled over by the police when driving, but several things can turn a routine traffic stop into a serious incident – including driving while intoxicated.
However, if the police observe you driving under the influence in Colorado and you have a firearm in the car, things can get much more complicated.
If you’re a firearm owner, it’s vital to understand what the law says about keeping a firearm in your vehicle. There are possible consequences for having a firearm in your car if you’re pulled over for a DUI. Read on to find out what you need to know.
Gun Possession and DUIs in Colorado
It’s important to note that having a firearm in your car when traveling is legal in Colorado – if you are sober. You can legally possess a firearm as a driver or a passenger.
When you are intoxicated, however, the law changes a little bit. When you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is illegal to be in possession of a firearm.
What is a DUI?
In Colorado, a person is guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) if you are operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher. You don’t have to show signs of impairment to be charged with a DUI – you simply must have a blood alcohol content above the legal limit.
It’s also important to note that, even if you are below the legal limit, if you have a blood alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.08 percent and are showing signs of impairment, then you can be charged with driving while ability impaired in Colorado – commonly referred to as a DWAI.
Suppose you are convicted of a DUI in Colorado. In that case, you can face several penalties, including losing your driver’s license for some time, required completion of alcohol classes or treatment, and fines.
Disclosure of a Firearm When Pulled Over
If police stop you for a traffic violation, then it’s not required of you by the law to tell them you have a firearm in the car – but it is advised. It’s usually in your best interest to immediately let the officer know you have a firearm in the vehicle, especially if you are asked to exit the vehicle.
You likely shouldn’t say that you simply have a gun, as the officer may take this as a threat. You should tell them calmly you have a firearm in the vehicle or on your person.
Prohibited Use of a Weapon
Having a firearm on you or in your vehicle when stopped for a DUI can result in a charge of prohibited weapon use. It’s a serious charge in Colorado that can result in time in jail and other collateral consequences often included in weapons violations.
It makes no difference if your firearm was loaded or unloaded, nor does it matter where in the vehicle it was found. This offense can be charged simply if you drive under the influence and have a firearm in your vehicle.
You have rights, and if you are accused of a DUI and possessing a firearm, it’s vitally important to know those rights.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Countless legal organizations have recognized Mr. Martinez for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020 and is Lead Counsel rated.