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Colorado plans to toughen drunk driving laws in 2014

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Greg Campbell Contributor
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Colorado’s drunk driving laws will become stricter on Jan. 1, when people who refuse to take roadside sobriety tests will be treated as “persistent drunk drivers,” whether they are drunk or not.

While motorists have the right to refuse a blood test or breathalyzer, doing so creates an automatic presumption of drunkenness under current law and carries all the penalties associated with it. The “persistent” label carries with it more onerous penalties.

Persistent drunk drivers have their licenses suspended for one year on the first offense, with additional years added for each subsequent offense. Under the new law, a motorist can have his or her license conditionally reinstated after two months if they install an ignition lock that requires the driver to blow into a blood alcohol monitor to ensure they haven’t been drinking. They will also be required to attend alcohol classes.

In 2012 about three in 10 drunk drivers — out of a total of about 25,000 cases — refused to take the roadside tests, according to Denver’s 7News, citing statistics from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Drivers are also considered to be “persistent” if they have more than one drunk driving conviction, or a blood alcohol level of .17. The BAC threshold for persistent drunk drivers will be lowered in 2014 to .15.

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