Driving Under the influence in colorado

Driving under the influence is the operation of a motor vehicle while your ability to drive is substantially impaired by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the both.  It is an unclassified misdemeanor that carries a possible jail sentence of up to one year in jail or a fine.  There are mandatory minimum jail sentences in some cases.  A second DUI carries a mandatory 10-days, and a third will result in a mandatory 60-day jail sentence.  A first does not have an mandatory jail time unless the BAC is above a .20.  

The mandatory minimum is just that though, a minimum sentence.  There are facts and circumstances that could cause a prosecutor to seek jail where it isn't required or mandatory.  A car crash is always aggravating, even if there isn't any injury.  Another fact pattern that is concerning from a dui defense perspective involves children.  If children are in the car with at the time a person is driving under the influence, the case will be considered aggravate.  The case will also be charged with a child abuse as well. 


Child abuse at its core is physically or emotionally harming a child.  It also can be placing the child in a position where they could suffer physical or emotional harm.  The actual statute defining the criminal offense is found in the Colorado Revised Statutes.  Applying the charge to driving under the influence, the base offense is having a child in the vehicle at the time of driving.  Driving under the influence is inherently dangerous, and a child would arguably be subject to potential harm if the they are in the vehicle.  At the extreme, a child the in injured could result in charges of vehicular assault or homicide.  

The level of punishment and charge is based on the harm caused to the child.  

When a defendant intentionally or recklessly cause bodily injury to a child, it is a class 1 misdemeanor. A class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail or a fine of up to $1,000.

If a defendant negligently injures a child or places a child in a position to be injured, the crime is a class 2 misdemeanor. A class 2 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 120 days or a fine of up to $750. 

Child abuse can also be classified as a felony.

A person that knowingly or reckless causes the death of a child commits a class 2 felony. If the death is caused through negligence, it is a class 3 felony.

Serious bodily injury can also result in a felony charge. This is injury that can lead to death or disfigurement. It also includes serious burns and broken bones.

If the serious bodily injury is caused intentionally or recklessly, it is a class 3 felony. A person who negligently causes bodily injury commits a class 4 felony.

A person can also be charged with a class 5 felony child abuse if the jury finds the defendant was in a position of trust, use threats of violence, or committed the offense as a continuation of a pattern.  

Child abuse is a serious charge and requires a serious criminal defense attorney.

How are child abuse charges handled differently

Child abuse cases are handled differently from start to finish. There are typically specialized detectives that investigate these types of offenses. Law enforcement also employs “forensic interviewers” to speak with the children in controlled situations. It is very important to have a criminal defense attorney that understands these procedures and policies.

Child abuse charges will also result in a criminal protection order. These are automatic protection orders that could require a defendant to vacate the home of the child and be prohibited from contacting directly or indirectly the child. These protections orders can be modified, but it takes a skilled child abuse defense attorney.

What are Defenses to Child Abuse?

The most common defenses to child abuse are affirmative defense. This would include a defense like self-defense. Self-defense is the use of force to defend yourself. 

Obviously, it would be hard to establish self-defense if you are dealing with a minor child. However, a child can be a victim under the age of 16.

A specific defense to child abuse is that the parent was using reasonable and appropriate force to discipline the child. However, the law does not define reasonable and appropriate. The issue will depend on the injuries that are seen.

An ugly truth about child abuse allegations is that they can be false accusations of child abuse. False accusations are usually accompanied by custody disputes. This is not always the case, but it does unfortunately happen. 

A skilled child abuse attorney will consider this possibility to determine if the alleged crime occurred. If your relationship with the other parent of your child may be a factor in the alleged offense, it is important to let you criminal defense attorney know that at your initial consultation.

If you are charged with DUI and Child Abuse, it is important to speak with a skilled DUI Defense Attorney