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You’re never too old for Halloween. Every year, thousands of adults join in on the Halloween spirit by dressing up and attending parties. The key difference to many adult celebrations, however, is the inclusion of alcohol.
Although these festivities are good-natured fun, whenever there’s alcohol involved, there’s a risk. In fact, October 31st has one of the highest rates for vehicle accidents and fatalities associated with driving under the influence.
Research shows that males aged 21-34 years old were the demographic most at risk of being involved in a traffic accident as a result of driving under the influence. That same demographic made up over half of the drunk driving fatalities on Halloween in 2011.
This year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), national officials, and the Ad Council are teaming up to promote safe driving. Their message is “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving,” and that even one drink is too many if you plan on driving.
According to the NHTSA, from the period of 2013-2017, there were 158 people killed in drunk-driving accidents on Halloween night. Additionally, 42% of all traffic fatalities that happened on Halloween night involved at least one driver under the influence.
Convinced that won’t happen to you?
Consider this: Colorado is known for having some of the strictest laws and regulations surrounding drunk driving in the country. The definition of “driving or operating” isn’t even limited to cars – it applies to non-motorized vehicles such as bikes as well.
Moreover, Colorado has a “per se” blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.8%. This means that if a person has a BAC higher than 0.8%, they could be convicted of a DUI without the need for any other evidence.
Our state also has an “aggravated DUI” charge, which allows for stricter penalties if a person has a BAC that is higher than 0.17%, and a “zero-tolerance law.” That means if the driver is under the age of 21, they can be charged with an Underage Drinking and Driving infraction with a BAC of only 0.02%-0.05%. Minors who are found with a BAC of 0.05% or higher will be prosecuted as adults.
It goes on. Here, the physical act of driving a car itself means you automatically give consent to be subject to drug or chemical testing if it is requested by a police officer (this is also known as “expressed consent” or “implied consent” law).
If the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that you are under the influence and you refuse to take the requested tests, you may be charged with a DUI. In addition, your driver’s license can be revoked for up to 12 months. (Note that these tests are different from field sobriety tests, which are not required.)
Even a first time DUI offense carries severe penalties. Offenders could be subject to a nine-month license suspension and/or installation of an IID device (Ignition Interlock Device).
An IID requires you to blow into the device before the car will start and at intervals while driving. If the IID detects elevated BAC when attempting to start the car, the car will cease to function. If the BAC is detected in transit, an alarm will go off, the sample will be logged and a notification will be sent to local authorities.
Refusal to submit to a drug or chemical test when requested by law enforcement also carries a possible penalty of an IID installation in the offender’s vehicle. If there is a second DUI offense, the IID installation becomes mandatory.
In addition to all of the above penalties, those found to have been driving while under the influence will be subject to mandatory alcohol assessment, evaluation, and treatment. There are also additional criminal penalties that are possible, such as jail time and community service.
The Colorado DMV also imposes its own administrative penalties, such as the loss of license points and suspension/revoking of license.
Driving under the influence is a serious matter. It is important to educate yourself on the reality of the act and the penalties that it carries. Drinking and driving not only endangers your own life but the lives of those around you.
Police activity will be higher on Halloween to combat drunk drivers, and the penalties that you may be liable for are not worth a few drinks. This Halloween, make an informed decision and remember: “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.”
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.