blog DUI Can You Get a DUI for an Accident That You Didn’t Cause?

Can You Get a DUI for an Accident That You Didn’t Cause?

By Colorado Attorney-at-law on February 10, 2024

Unfortunately, yes. In Colorado, being involved in a traffic accident with a blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeding the legal limit can result in DUI charges, regardless of whether you committed any traffic violations. Along with the potential criminal charges a DUI brings, testing positive for alcohol at the scene of an accident can bring unprecedented civil challenges.

Even if you were not at fault for the accident, if the other party decides to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit, a DUI conviction can prove detrimental when establishing liability. This is why it’s essential to consult with a Summit County DUI defense attorney immediately, who can safeguard your rights and analyze the facts of your case.

The Basics of DUI Charges

Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are imposed when a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is above 0.08%.

  • Penalties for a first DUI offense encompass up to a year in jail, fines up to $1,000 plus court costs, up to 96 hours of mandatory community service, 12 points on your DMV driving record, and a nine-month driver’s license suspension.
  • Repeated DUI offenses could lead to up to six years of imprisonment and a license suspension of 24 months.
  • Colorado’s participation in the Interstate Driver License Compact ensures that a DUI suspension in Colorado is enforced in other member states, including the offender’s home state, if visiting. Some member states include California, Texas, and New York.
  • Along with the possibility of imprisonment and license suspension, a convicted driver risks consequences in immigration status, gun ownership rights, and more.

DUI Tests in Colorado

If an accident results in no injuries, police may not respond. Regardless, both drivers are legally obligated to exchange contact and insurance information. In the case of injury, police are more likely to arrive. If the police respond to an accident, they may perform DUI tests to determine if a driver was under the influence.

In Colorado, you have the option to decline a request to perform a roadside field sobriety test. However, if the officer has probable cause to suspect that you’ve been drinking, they may ask for a breathalyzer test or, in certain situations, a blood sample.

Keep in mind that you CANNOT legally refuse to take a breath test or blood test. Refusing these tests violates Colorado’s express consent law, requiring drivers lawfully arrested for DUI to undergo testing for drugs or alcohol.

How a DUI Comes Into Play When an Accident Wasn’t Your Fault

Picture this: After enjoying a day at Breckenridge Ski Resort with skiing and drinking, you’re hit by a driver distracted by texting. During the accident report, a police BAC test reveals you’re at 0.09%, over the 0.08% limit, leading to a DUI arrest.

Colorado follows an “at-fault” system, where the party at fault for the accident bears the damages. Therefore, despite a DUI charge, the other party would still be liable. The DUI charge is a separate criminal matter. However, Colorado operates on a negligence law, meaning that damages are allocated by fault percentage. The other party or their insurer may try to use your DUI charge to decrease their fault, minimizing your payout.

Building a Solid Defense

When facing DUI charges, figuring out your defense strategy is of the utmost importance, including knowing how BAC tests can be subject to inaccuracies. While BAC tests are the most common method of assessing a DUI charge, they still come with issues. If a breathalyzer is improperly maintained or calibrated incorrectly, this could lead to an inaccurate result. Similarly, blood testing, while more accurate, risks contamination or mix-ups during transportation.

Once charged, it’s imperative to have the support of an experienced Breckenridge DUI defense lawyer who can evaluate all BAC test results, police reports, and any documentation relating to the accident. Doing so will work to identify failures in proper testing procedures and testing units, as well as rights violations by law enforcement in the traffic stop.

Have You Been Confronted with DUI Charges in Colorado?

Even if you were not directly at fault for an accident, you may still have been charged with driving under the influence. If you’re dealing with DUI charges in Summit County, don’t hesitate to consult with an experienced DUI defense lawyer at Whitaker & Penix, LLC. Our Breckenridge criminal attorneys will work with you to cultivate a strategically strong defense that sets you up to secure the best possible outcome for your case.

Reach out to us at (970) 368-0602 to schedule a FREE consultation today.

Posted in: DUI