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Is it a crime to possess a gun while drunk?

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Although Colorado doesn’t require persons to secure a permit to purchase a gun nor does the state have any requirement for firearm registration, it does have strict laws about gun handling.

It’s against state law to knowingly aim a gun at another person. It’s also illegal to recklessly discharge a firearm without considering the risks of hitting someone else.

But Colorado also has a law prohibiting anyone drunk or under the effect of an intoxicating substance from possessing a firearm. When does this law apply, and what are the penalties for violators?

The law on possessing a firearm while intoxicated

Per state law, it’s a Class 1 misdemeanor if a person has a firearm in their possession while under the influence of alcohol or an intoxicating controlled substance. Controlled substances that generally cause intoxication include benzene, chloroform, ether and other solvents.

While this law might apply in cases when a police officer arrests a drunk bar patron who happens to have a gun, it can also apply during traffic stops for suspected driving under the influence. An officer can charge a driver with prohibited weapon use if they find the driver drunk and possessing a firearm.

If a person is convicted of this offense, they’ll serve up to 364 days in jail or pay up to $1,000 in fines.

Repeat offenders face harsher penalties

Should a person previously convicted of possessing a firearm while drunk face another conviction within five years, the offense becomes a Class 5 felony. Punishments for a Class 5 felony conviction include up to 36 months in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000.

Possessing a gun while drunk is a crime in Colorado. Although the offense starts as a misdemeanor, it still ends up on a person’s criminal record, which can impact their educational, financial and employment opportunities. Those who face charges should carefully plan their defense in court or face the consequences.

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