Teens More Likely to Get in Vehicle With High Driver Than Drunk Driver

One of the biggest concerns with legalizing recreational marijuana was that it would have a negative impact on society’s most vulnerable – children. Critics feared that it would increase the usage rates of recreational marijuana among young adults. While studies have shown that the numbers of young adults using recreational marijuana have stayed relatively unchanged since legalization occurred, that does not mean that young adults are not still vulnerable to dangerous situations involving marijuana. For instance, Denver’s CBS-4 recently reported that a study conducted by Colorado State University indicates that teens are more likely to get into a vehicle with a driver under the influence of marijuana than they are to drive with someone who is under the influence of alcohol.

The Study

According to the study, 29% of young adults surveyed, all of whom were one or two years out of high school, had driven with someone under the influence of drugs like marijuana at least once in the last year. This was compared to 20% of individuals who said that they had driven with someone under the influence of alcohol at least once in the last year.

While the numbers could indicate worse, they still present a major concern. Researchers believe that engaging in risky behavior, such as driving with someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, could lead to even more risky behavior like engaging in those activities personally. That poses a risk of perpetuating a problem that is an increasing concern for everyone on the road, especially in light of serious national concerns related to the opioid epidemic.

The Response

As recreational marijuana patterns have evolved, so has the state’s response to emerging problems. “The Cannabis Conversation,” a new campaign from the state, aims at figuring out what people’s attitudes are when it comes to driving under the influence of marijuana so that the state can better address the dangers that doing so presents to everyone on the road. The program involves surveys and a public awareness campaign that is designed to help people understand more about how marijuana can impact a person’s ability to operate a vehicle and how that effect can pose a serious risk of injury or death to the driver as well as others on the road.

One of the individuals responsible for the underlying study pointed out that it is important for parents to continue to act as role models for their children by choosing not to abuse dangerous substances and not to drive while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. He points out that most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving because the country as a whole has put a great deal of effort into combatting the issue. However, less attention has been paid to driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs, which may need to change. The state agrees and is continuing to develop programs like The Cannabis Conversation in order to spread important awareness.

A Lawyer’s Role

While there may be many misconceptions about the results of legalizing recreational marijuana, there should be no confusion in remembering that driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal. No matter how well an individual believes he or she can perform under the influence of marijuana, the state takes a serious approach to keeping high drivers off the road. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs such as marijuana, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney could be an important part of facing those charges. Contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out more about the options that might be available to you in your specific circumstances.

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Two Large Drugs Busts Target Illegal Marijuana Grows

Illegal marijuana grows have been around for a long time, and legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and other states has encouraged some budding entrepreneurs to try and make inroads in the growing industry by growing their own buds. In recent weeks two drug busts have netted a mix of plants, growing equipment, and arrests.

El Paso County

Responding to the large Carson Midway fire in El Paso County, firefighters discovered an interesting sight usually happened upon by other law enforcement agencies after investigating various leads. According to Denver’s Fox 31, firefighters acquired a search warrant for a property affected by the fire that caused evacuations as it spread across 3,300 acres. That search warrant led to the discovery of over 100 marijuana plants. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office indicated that most plants were flowering, which means they were ready for harvest. So far, no arrests have been made in the bust, but authorities indicate that the investigation into this illegal growing operation is still ongoing.

Teller County

Meanwhile, law enforcement personnel in Teller County made two illegal marijuana grow busts. According to a report from Colorado Spring’s KKTV-11, law enforcement first executed a search warrant at one location where they discovered a large-scale illegal growing operation. This find and two arrests at the initial location yielded information about a second illegal growing operation not far away where another individual with outstanding misdemeanor charges was arrested.

Law enforcement involved in these operations indicated that over 200 pounds of live plants were seized, some of which were approximately seven feet tall. More than 35 pounds of already processed marijuana was also retrieved from the two sites. Several arrests have been made and defendants may be facing federal drug charges as a result.

Law enforcement authorities indicate that the information gained from these two illegal growing operations will likely lead to additional raids and arrests as this investigation is also ongoing. They have indicated that they believe these grows are linked to a larger network of illegal growing operations that ships the illegal marijuana products outside of Colorado, a theory bolstered by reported ties between the defendants and Miami, Florida.

Legal Assistance

Legal advocacy plays an important role in defending against all types of drug charges, no matter how serious the charge. Even minor drug charges can have significant consequences, including the potential of a criminal record that can follow you for life and have a major impact on many different opportunities. It is possible to run afoul of the state’s drug laws inadvertently, and it is also possible to face federal drug charges depending on the circumstances of the accusation.

In either case, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is often the first step in exploring the options available for your defense. If you are facing marijuana or other drug-related charges, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out more information about how our firm can work with you so that you do not have to face these charges alone.

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Two Public Servants Facing DUI Charges

There is an adage that states that nobody is above the law, and that has held true in two high profile DUI cases in Colorado. Recently, two public officials have had to deal with DUI charges. A recent article from The Denver Post notes that a county coroner has resigned over DUI allegations, while another article from The Denver Post follows up on the professional consequences for a Denver police officer who pled guilty to DUI charges in 2016.

County Coroner Allegedly Responds Drunk

On March 8, 2018, a fatal accident occurred northeast of Las Animas in Bent County. After rolling over and ejecting one of its passengers, a truck sat on its roof until police were able to respond to the scene that claimed the life of a 19-year-old. Following protocol for such an incident, state troopers at the scene called the county’s coroner to respond. The coroner allegedly drove himself to the scene of the accident when people began to suspect he was drunk.

Eventually, law enforcement officials conducted sobriety testing and charged the individual with driving under the influence of alcohol. The results of the sobriety testing were not immediately released, but a report cited in the article states that the coroner’s blood alcohol concentration was found to be 0.087%. The individual has since resigned from his post.

Officer Allowed to Remain on Force

The paper also reports that a Denver police officer will be allowed to remain on the city’s police force after having pled guilty to DUI charges and failing subsequent probation requirements. The officer in question allegedly pled guilty to a DUI offense in 2016 for which he faced mandatory parole requirements like periodic urine testing. The officer is alleged to have failed, skipped, and diluted samples related to this testing.

New consequences for his actions include a 20-day unpaid suspension, two-years of alcohol abstention, attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous, officer resilience training, random urine tests, and successful completion of his probation. While many individuals believe that this is a way for someone on the inside to avoid the punishment ordinary individuals may receive, supporters point out that this is a better approach to the root cause of the problem – alcohol addiction. By allowing the officer to have access to treatment options while promoting rehabilitation, supporters believe they can highlight how such approaches to treating dependency issues are an important part of the judicial system.

Securing Legal Advocacy

Both of these individuals will have extensive legal repercussions for their alleged actions. Even with the best of intentions, a DUI can happen to anyone. The smallest oversight or mistake could end up with you facing serious criminal charges that can have a significant impact on your career, your livelihood, and your future.

If you are facing Colorado DUI charges, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands DUI law and how to apply it to your case is important. For help with your Colorado charge for driving under the influence, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to find out more information about how we can work with you to explore your legal options.

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States Respond to Federal Marijuana Crackdown

With the current political discourse across the nation, “sanctuary cities” have become a term with which we have all gotten familiar. While the concept of “sanctuary states” may seem linked to the immigration debate underlying the more familiar term, the meaning is actually turning out to be quite different. According to an article from Denver’s Fox-31, several states that have legalized recreational marijuana use are considering creating “sanctuary state” status for their state when it comes to a potential federal crackdown against increasingly liberal recreational marijuana policies at the state level.

What do the States Have to Say?

Much of the state-level discourse has ramped up in recent months after almost a year of speculation led to the first major policy statement on recreational marijuana from the current administration. The prior administration took a hands-off approach to enforcement of marijuana-related laws in states that had elected to legalize such use. However, in January of this year, the new administration indicated that federal prosecutors were free to use their discretion in pursuing such cases.

Berkeley, California has begun leading the way in the movement to curtail any federal efforts aimed at regulating the recreational marijuana industry. According to the article, several states may soon follow suit. Alaska, California, and Massachusetts are all reportedly considering legislation that would preempt state-level cooperation with the federal government.

While the article indicates that the current administration’s approach has shaken an industry still growing in Colorado and poised to grow in the handful of states that have elected to legalize recreational marijuana since Colorado did, there is little evidence of any immediate effects. While some law enforcement officials indicate that they would rather focus their resources on the opioid crisis gripping the nation, others believe the two issues may be linked.

How Will Colorado Respond?

Colorado’s specific strategy in handling a potential federal crackdown on recreational marijuana has yet to gain much public traction, though the state is certainly weighing its options in how to approach any new policy changes from the current administration. While legalization of recreational marijuana has certainly come with issues, there is no denying that it has provided a significant boost to the state’s coffers from both taxes and tourism since its legalization. Any far-reaching and dramatic policy shifts from the current administration could have a significant impact on state budgets where recreational marijuana has gained a strong foothold and extensive support that seems to be increasing.

Some sources provide some insight into future responses, with quotes from gubernatorial candidates indicating that the federal government will have to look elsewhere for enforcement support should those candidates be elected. Time will tell how the state will approach a potential federal clash, though with few Coloradans regretting their choice to vote for legalization of recreational marijuana, it is unlikely the state will simply fall into line.

How can You Approach Marijuana-Related Charges?

Even with legalized recreational marijuana, it is still possible to run afoul of important federal, state, and local statutes regulating the use, sale, and possession of marijuana and/or related products. Doing so can result in serious consequences if you are charged and convicted with a marijuana-related crime. If you are facing marijuana-related charges, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to begin understanding how our team can work with you to make sure that you do not have to face your charges alone.

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Colorado Police are Being Equipped with Naloxone

There is no denying that the nation is facing a serious challenge as it struggles to cope with the growing opioid addiction epidemic. As the news tells us almost daily, the opioid crisis has touched virtually every community in Colorado and across the country. When it comes to opioid overdoses and saving lives, time is a critical factor in many situations. Traditionally, law enforcement officers would have to wait for paramedics to arrive in order to treat an overdose.

However, significant upticks in the number of people experiencing an overdose – especially while driving – have made some law enforcement agencies take a new approach. According to a recent article from Colorado Public Radio, many law enforcement agencies are equipping officers with naloxone. The hope is that, as those often responding to an incident involving an overdose first, these officers can help save lives by using naloxone to counteract the effect of an opioid overdose.

Specialized Training

Law enforcement officers are required to undergo a lot of specialized training in order to do their job as safely and effectively as possible. This new approach to combatting the effects of the opioid crisis sees law enforcement officials trained in how to recognize an overdose and how to respond quickly and appropriately.

Part of that training involves equipping officers with naloxone, often referred to as Narcan. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, Naloxone is the standard substance used in treating an opioid overdose. The medication can be administered through injection or as a nasal spray and works quickly to reverse the effects of overdose. During an overdose, breathing can slow or even stop. When administered, Naloxone basically swats opioids away from receptors in the brain so that the body can adjust its systems and return to normal. This can get oxygen back into the lungs and consequently the blood, helping to revive an individual who has overdosed.

An Officer’s Role

Once specialized training is complete, officers are equipped with this life-saving drug. In many circumstances, officers are the first to respond to incidents involving overdoses.

However, this does not always happen because of 911-related calls regarding an overdose. As countless videos have shown, many individuals do not experience the effect of an overdose until they have gotten behind the wheel of a vehicle. Some instances have seen individuals struggling with an overdose driving erratically. Others occur when police come across an individual passed out in an automobile in a parking lot or on the side of the road. Whatever the circumstances that have led to police involvement, those equipped with Naloxone and the knowledge of how to use it can often make the difference between life and death while waiting for experienced medical assistance to arrive.

Securing Legal Assistance

The opioid epidemic is real. It not only threatens the lives of individuals struggling with addiction, but also the lives of other citizens when individuals make the mistake of driving while under the influence of drugs. Police officers may play an increasingly important role in helping to save lives as the nation works to combat this epidemic, but the challenges a person faces after driving under the influence do not stop once they have received medical assistance. There are a number of drug-related charges that may be issued in conjunction with the administration of Naloxone, not the least of which being a charge for driving under the influence of drugs if the incident took place while operating a vehicle.

The consequences of conviction for these charges can be severe. The opioid epidemic has made the stakes high for everyone in the nation trying to overcome the obstacles it creates, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can be an important part of your approach to handling legal issues that could be related to addiction. An advocate who understands just how much is on the line when it comes to these charges can help. Contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm if you are facing charges for driving under the influence of drugs or other drug-related charges to begin exploring the option available to you.

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Almost 900 DUI Arrests Already in 2018

Law enforcement is always on the lookout for individuals who could be driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. DUI arrests happen at all hours of the day and night and in all areas of the state. The Colorado Department of Transportation also provides federal and state funding to local law enforcement offices around the state that choose to participate in the state’s campaign aimed at targeting individuals driving under the influence.

The campaign, known as “The Heat Is On,” has 14 periods throughout the year during which local law enforcement agencies participate in heightened DUI awareness campaigns. Agencies provide additional law enforcement officers, DUI checkpoints, and community awareness programs that coincide with public holidays and other periods throughout the year during which DUIs are traditionally a major concern. According to a recent article from Patch.com, Colorado has already made nearly 900 DUI arrests so far in 2018.

By the Numbers

While the New Year’s enforcement period spilled over into 2018, there have been two major enforcement periods so far this year. These include the Winter Blitz from January 19 through January 29 and Super Bowl Weekend from February 2 through February 5.

During the Winter Blitz enforcement period, there was a small decline in arrests from 2017. This period reportedly saw 601 arrests this year as compared with 608 last year. Troopers with Colorado State Patrol arrested 131 drivers across the state during this period, with Colorado Spring and Denver coming in at 62 arrests and 41 arrests respectively.

Super Bowl Weekend enforcement also saw a decrease from last year’s totals. The article states that this year’s enforcement period netted 259 arrests as opposed to 2017’s total of 278. Again, Colorado State Patrol troopers led the arrests total followed again by Denver and Colorado Springs.

The heightened enforcement periods will continue throughout the year in an effort to combat the dangers posed by individuals driving under the influence. According to the article, there were 232 alcohol and drug-related fatalities in 2017. These totals marked a 16% increase from 2016, which gave cause for concern to law enforcement officials across the state. The next enforcement period will target the St. Patrick’s Day holiday celebrations with increased law enforcement presence beginning on March 16 and running for four days.

The Importance of Legal Advocacy

Most people know that driving under the influence is illegal. However, it is possible to make a mistake. Even when you do and are facing charges for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, you still have important rights that must be protected and advocated for at every step of the legal process.

A DUI conviction can have significant consequences on your life and livelihood. An experienced criminal defense attorney who understand the nuances of the state’s DUI laws as well as how much is at stake when it comes to these serious charges can be an important part of your approach to facing such charges. Contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out more information about what options might be available to you in your circumstances.

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Vehicular Assault and Colorado DUIs

It is no secret that the consequences of a Colorado DUI conviction can be severe. You face punishments that can include the temporary loss of your license, heavy fines, court-mandated treatment programs, and even jail in many circumstances. However, when a DUI results in serious bodily injury to another individual, the need for legal assistance can be even greater as the possible consequences are even more serious. One additional charge an individual can face in some DUI circumstances where serious injury occurs is vehicular assault. Defined in Colorado Revised Statute 18-3-205, a vehicular assault charge could result in a conviction for a class five or class six felony depending on whether the proximate cause of the accident was due to being under the influence or a result of reckless driving behavior.

Understanding Vehicular Assault 

State law defines vehicular assault as being committed when “a person operates or drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and this conduct is the proximate cause of serious bodily injury to another.” The statute also includes driving under the influence of drugs that results in serious bodily injury to another as qualifying as vehicular assault.

The law further defines the crime of vehicular assault as a strict liability crime. While most crimes require both a bad act, as well as, a guilty mind and knowingly committing the crime, strict liability crimes do not require the latter. In other words, you do not have to actually mean to commit or know you are committing the crime in order to be convicted of committing it. It must only be proven that an individual’s reckless driving behavior or their inability to safely operate a vehicle due to being under the influence led to the results that caused the accident and subsequent injuries to the other person.

Classifying the Crime 

As with most crimes, vehicular assault is classified depending on the severity of the offense. In general, it typically results in felony charges that are Class 4 or Class 5.

A Class 5 felony charge for vehicular assault is very serious. Typically, these charges are reserved for reckless driving incidents not involving alcohol and/or drugs. A conviction on this charge can result in a prison sentence of one to three years, but a judge may increase that sentencing to a maximum of six years if significant aggravating circumstances were part of the crime.

While the consequences of conviction for a Class 5 felony charge are serious, the potential consequences of conviction for a Class 4 felony can be even more significant. Class 4 felonies apply to vehicular assault that occurs while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Class 4 felonies are considered more serious, and as such a conviction can result in two to six years in prison. As with Class 5 felonies, if a judge finds significant aggravating circumstances related to the charge, then an individual who is convicted of such a crime can be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

The Importance of Legal Assistance 

As you can imagine, vehicular assault is a serious criminal charge. If you are facing Colorado vehicular assault charges, it is important to work with a criminal defense attorney that understands the important nuances involved in this area of the law. Jay Tiftickjian has written extensively on defense approaches related to Colorado DUIs and understands how much is at stake for individuals facing these types of charges. If you are facing vehicular assault charges, including those related to a DUI or DWAI or even reckless driving, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out more information about the charges you are facing as well as what options might be available to you in establishing your defense.

 

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New Campaign Aimed at Stopping High Driving

When Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana use by approving Amendment 64 in 2012, the state entered unchartered territory. Nobody knew exactly what to expect, and in the years since, the legalization has had its benefits and its drawbacks. One of the most impactful drawbacks is driving under the influence of marijuana, which has been a consistent issue. According to a recent article from KOAA News5, the Colorado Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) has developed a new program to combat driving under the influence of marijuana.

 

Fatal Concerns

CDOT statistics indicate that 2016 saw 77 traffic-related fatalities across the state in which drivers involved in the accidents tested positive for active THC in their bloodstream. Even more troubling is the number of marijuana users who admit to driving high, with 50% of users indicating that they have driven high within the previous 30 days. While CDOT statistics also indicate that over 90% of marijuana users know that driving under the influence of marijuana can result in a DUI charge and possible conviction, state officials are concerned with the number of individuals who still choose to use marijuana and drive.

Current Law 

Right now, state law allows law enforcement officials to charge an individual with a DUI if they have probable cause to believe that a person is substantially incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely due to consuming marijuana. State law also allows an officer to charge a driver with DWAI if they feel that person’s ability to drive a motor vehicle safely is impaired to the slightest degree. Finally, state law allows law enforcement officials to charge an individual with a DUI if that person submits to a blood test and the results of that test show the driver has more than five nanograms of THC in his or her bloodstream. Chemical testing is required when an officer has probable cause to believe your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely is impaired to the slightest degree. If a driver refuses chemical testing, they will still be charged with DUI and they face more severe driver’s license consequences for refusing the chemical test. 

New Approach

Critics of the current approach to regulating driving under the influence of marijuana assert the claim that marijuana impairment cannot be measured in the same manner as alcohol impairment. They say that alcohol impairment has been studied for years and it is scientifically possible to predict impairment based on the amount of alcohol in one’s bloodstream. However, these critics claim that marijuana affects individuals differently. In other words, what can impair an occasional user may not impair a regular user. Additionally, they point out that remnants of marijuana chemicals like THC can remain in an individual’s blood stream long after impairing effects have worn off.

CDOT’s new approach, called The Cannabis Conversation, takes a survey-based approach to gauging marijuana users’ attitude about driving under the influence of marijuana. The survey is anonymous and aims to determine the public’s idea of what dangers are presented by driving under the influence of marijuana and why some individual marijuana choosers still choose to drive high. CDOT hopes to better understand the decisions behind driving under the influence of marijuana to develop new approaches at making the roads safer for everyone.

Legal Assistance with Marijuana DUIs 

Even if you know the dangers of driving while under the influence of marijuana, it is still possible to make a mistake. Even if you do, you have important rights that must be protected. These charges can be intimidating, but you do not have to face them alone. If you are facing Colorado DUI charges, including those related to driving under the influence of marijuana, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out more information about what options might be available to you.

 

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New Approach Proposed to Treatment in Fourth and Subsequent Felony DUIs

Colorado’s felony DUI law has been a point of contention since its inception in 2015. Supporters of the legislation have said it was long overdue, as Colorado was the 47th state to enact such legislation. They believe the law will help discourage driving under the influence as it imposes much harsher penalties on individuals receiving their fourth or subsequent lifetime DUI or related conviction.

Opponents of the law say it does little to address the root issues behind repeat DUI offenses, such as addiction and substance abuse. They also point to research that indicates the highest number of DUI-related fatalities are caused by first-time offenders. Additionally, they note that serious offenders that are involved in fatal collisions already face felony charges.

Basics of the Law

The felony DUI law applies to a fourth lifetime conviction for a separate and distinct instance of one of the following:

  • Driving under the influence;
  • Driving while ability impaired;
  • Vehicular homicide;
  • Vehicular assault; and/or
  • Any combination of the above.

Each of these on their own comes with serious and significant consequences, but the felony DUI law now imposes serious mandatory consequences on repeat offenders.

The law does not only take convictions in Colorado into consideration, but also includes prior convictions from any state in the country. Violation of the felony DUI law in the form of a fourth or subsequent conviction for one of these crimes qualifies as a Class IV felony. In Colorado, Class IV felony DUIs are punishable by a minimum of 90 days in jail even if a judge sentences an individual offender to probation.

Changes to the Law

Issues with the law have been addressed several times by lawmakers, most recently last year. The latest changes to the law close loopholes that provided broad discretion to judges in sentencing felony DUI offenders. This discretion often resulted in uneven and unpredictable sentencing. Recently, a new rule has also been promulgated by the Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health to coincide with language in the felony DUI law that requires all other options be exhausted prior to an individual being sentenced to prison, including treatment options. It is hoped that this rule will help to clarify some of the confusion surrounding the law and help judges avoid mandatory minimum sentencing that might otherwise include significant jail time in lieu of proven treatment methods.

Developed in cooperation with the Colorado Task Force on Drunk and Impaired Driving, it lays out specific requirements for treatment programs as options for sentencing. These programs can include residential facilities that meet important state-mandated criteria. These programs are part of what are considered to be approved alcohol and drug driving treatment programs to which repeat offenders may be sentenced. This rule also suggests changing language within the existing legislation to test offenders frequently and randomly at a rate of four times a month for the first six months and twice per month the following six months. The state may also be in the position to help subsidize treatment programs for individuals who cannot afford one on their own.

Legal Assistance with Felony DUIs

It is important to remember that while there is a felony DUI law in effect, it is not mandatory that offenders receive felony treatment for a fourth or subsequent DUI offense. An experienced criminal defense attorney who focuses on working with clients facing DUI charges – including felony DUI charges – can be an important part of navigating the challenges these charges can bring.

Many people facing felony DUIs have had a lifelong struggle with addiction, and treatment should be an option. Much of the criteria for determining how to approach the fourth or subsequent DUI-related offense is subjective, and an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the nuances of Colorado DUI law. If you are facing your fourth or subsequent DUI-related charge, or if you are a first-time offender, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out what options might be available in preparing your defense.

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Is a Lower Drunk Driving Threshold on the Horizon?

Most people are aware that consuming alcohol can impair their ability to do many things, especially drive. That is what makes driving under the influence of alcohol so dangerous. Alcohol affects various systems within the body and consequently impairs an individual’s judgment, coordination, and many other important functions that are required to safely operate a vehicle. A recent article from The Denver Post indicates that there may be scientific support in decreasing the level at which an individual is considered to be impaired, which could ultimately lead to lowering the impairment threshold in Colorado and other states across the country.

New Recommendations

Almost every state has the same alcohol-related threshold for measuring impairment, setting the legal limit for a person’s blood alcohol concentration at 0.08%. However, many states, including Colorado, have another lower threshold for impaired driving where a person can be charged with driving while ability impaired if his or her blood alcohol concentration is between 0.051% and 0.08%. Recently, Utah passed a law that would lower the state’s legal limit for DUIs to 0.05%.

According to the article, a new government-commissioned report made several recommendations for how to combat drunk driving across the country. One of those recommendations has the potential to have a big impact across the country, including here in Colorado. According to the report on which the article is based, 29 people die in the United States each day as a result of alcohol-related crashes, with rural areas being affected by such fatalities more than cities. Supporters of the change believe lowering the threshold for driving under the influence may help decrease that number of alcohol-related fatalities on U.S. roadways each year.

Fierce opposition to this movement has already been building, with detractors saying it will do nothing to deter repeat offenders who are responsible for the majority of alcohol-related deaths. Other recommendations included limiting accessibility to alcohol and increasing the tax on alcohol. According to the article, there is research that suggests doubling the alcohol tax can actually lead to a reduction in alcohol-related fatalities. The report also encourages law enforcement to crack down on underage drinking and other issues that negatively impact drunk driving statistics.

Considerations

The research demonstrates that several factors play into the recent increases in alcohol-related fatalities. When the legal drinking age was increased to 21, alcohol-related traffic fatalities and injuries saw a decline for many years. However, the article notes that alcoholic beverages are now more widely available, cost less, and come in a greater variety – including being mixed with substances like caffeine and energy drinks. This combination of circumstance has likely led to an increase in alcohol-related deaths over the past several years, and research indicates that taking another firm step on a national level would be an important part of reversing the troubling trend of increased fatalities and injuries in alcohol-related traffic incidents.

Legal Assistance with DUI Charges

Facing DUI charges can be intimidating, but you do not need to face them alone. Working with an attorney who focuses on helping clients facing DUI charges can be an important first step in exploring the options that might be available in your defense. If you are facing alcohol-related charges like driving under the influence in Colorado, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out more about what options might be available in your defense.

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