Driving under the influence in Colorado could come with an even heftier price tag than originally thought, according to numbers released last week by the state.
For first time offenders, a DUI costs an average of $13,530 in fees, fines, insurance hikes and other related expenses - up from the $10,270 estimate calculated in 2008 - according to the latest estimate from the Colorado Persistent Drunk Driver Committee, which is made up of several state regulatory agencies.
The largest costs for drunk drivers include a defense attorney ($3,650), insurance rate increases ($3,600) and ignition interlocks (2,172), or breathalyser-like devices that some DUI offenders must have installed in their vehicles, according to the committee.
The updated figures come in the midst of the state's "Holiday Parties" DUI crackdown, which began Dec. 2 and concludes Monday. Last year, Colorado law enforcement agencies made nearly 600 DUI arrests, with 48 suspected drunk drivers busted in El Paso County.
In Colorado, a driver is charged with a DUI if their blood alcohol content measures 0.08 or higher and may be charged with "driving while ability impaired," or a DWAI, if their blood alcohol content is 0.05 through 0.079.
In 2016, the average blood alcohol content for DUI offenders in the 4th Judicial District, which covers El Paso and Teller counties, was 0.168, according to the committee. Under state law, a driver with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.15, who refuses chemical testing, or has been charged with two or more impaired driving offenses qualifies as a "persistent drunk driver," a title that comes with more consequences that will cost them more , according to the committee.
Persistent drunk drivers are required to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles for 24 months and complete weekly substance abuse education and treatment classes for nine months - requirements that accounted for more than half of the average DUI cost increase over the past eight years, the committee said.
A DUI offense also can result in up to a year in jail.
Every DUI remains 100 percent preventable," Glenn Davis, CDOT's highway safety manager and a member of the state's drunk and impaired driving task force, said in a statement. "Cabs, ride services, public transportation or even buying dinner for a friend who will be your sober designated driver. they all cost money but not nearly as much as a DUI. If there's a chance you may become impaired, leave the vehicle at home. It's not worth the risk."
Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108