Why Is Colorado In the Midst of a DUI “Heat Is On” Campaign Right Now?

During certain times of the year, the Colorado Department of Transportation runs the highly publicized Heat is On Campaign in an effort to catch and arrest more drunk drivers.

Typically, CDOT schedules Heat is On Campaigns around common drunk driving occasions such as New Years Eve and other holidays. By adding patrols and checkpoints out on the roads, these campaigns have historically led to increased DUI arrests and convictions. Essentially, law enforcement officers are out in force to catch drunk drivers.

April isn’t exactly known for any big holidays, though. So why are we in the middle of a Heat is On Campaign right now?

The current campaign will run from April 6, 2018 through May 14, 2018, and the long and short of it is that experts believe impaired driving is especially likely in the spring in Colorado due to events such as graduation parties, 4/20 celebrations, the start of baseball season, and concerts.

The campaign will increase DUI enforcement through the following measures:

  • Increased sobriety checkpoints statewide
  • Increased police presence on Colorado roads to monitor for signs of impaired driving
  • Public education and advertisement of the campaign

If you find yourself facing DUI charges due to increased enforcement, it is important that you know what you’re up against.

What Defendants Need to Know about Colorado DUI Laws

In Colorado, a drunk driving is defined by the following:

  • Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or above for drivers above 21
  • Driving with a BAC of 0.02% or above for drivers under 21
  • Driving with a BAC above 0.05% but below 0.08% (Driving While Ability is Impaired, DWAI)

Criminal Penalties

In Colorado, the level of offense and criminal penalties are dependent on the BAC at the time of arrest, and whether the defendant has any prior DUI offenses.

Criminal penalties for a DUI or DWAI are as follows:

  • First offense DWAI: Up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500
  • First offense DUI: Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000
  • Second offense (DUI and DWAI): 10-365 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500
  • Third offense (DUI and DWAI): 10-365 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500
  • DUI or DWAI with three separate prior convictions: 2-6 years in state prison and/or a fine of $2,000-$500,000.

DUI offenders are subject to enhanced sentencing if any injuries occur as a result of drunk driving, if the defendant refuses BAC testing, or if other aggravating factors such as a minor passenger are present.

Administrative Penalties

A number of restrictive administrative penalties also apply to DUI offenses in Colorado. These can include:

  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Additional administrative fees
  • Community service
  • Mandatory alcohol education program and/or rehabilitation
  • Ignition interlock device
  • Requirement to carry high risk insurance

If You Are Facing Colorado DUI Charges

Denver DUI Lawyer

Contrary to popular belief, a conviction is not inevitable when facing DUI charges. In many cases, it may be possible to poke holes in the prosecution’s case, resulting in reduced charges, acquittal, or potentially in your case being thrown out entirely.

If you are currently facing DUI charges, be proactive as early in the process as possible by retaining a skilled Denver criminal defense attorney. A good lawyer will leverage his or her knowledge to fight tirelessly for the best possible outcome to your case.


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. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.