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Colorado Legislator on Probation for a DUI Conviction

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The Denver Post and multiple news outlets reported yesterday that the Minority Leader of Colorado’s State House of Representatives, Mike Lynch (R), was arrested for Driving Under the Influence in September, 2022. Lynch was arrested in Larimer County for driving under the influence (DUI), speeding, and possession of a firearm while intoxicated. He was driving 90 mph on I-25, northbound from Fort Collins. His Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at arrest was .165, and although the legal cutoff for DUI is .08, Lynch told the arresting officer that he thought the cutoff was .20. 

Although Lynch was originally charged with DUI, he eventually pled guilty to the lesser charge of Driving While Ability Impaired. He is currently on probation for the incident, and he is close to completing his 120 hours of community service. 

For DWAI convictions in Colorado, most defendants will serve 12 months on probation for a first offense, and 24 months probation for a second offense. A person convicted of a first offense of DWAI would typically not be sentenced to serve any jail time. A second offense of DWAI would have a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days jail time, but if the previous offense was more than 5 years prior, that time can often be served on in-home detention. Lynch was sentenced to 18 months probation with monitored sobriety. Monitored sobriety typically requires submitting to random urinalysis to test for alcohol consumption. However, if the court is especially concerned about the defendant’s compliance with monitored sobriety, the judge may order that the defendant wear a SCRAM unit, which is an ankle bracelet that detects the presence of alcohol through the skin. 

It is not clear why this arrest is just being reported now, over 18 months after the incident. It may be because Lynch, from Wellington, CO, is now running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in Colorado’s 4th congressional district, and reporters are doing intensive research into the backgrounds of the candidates. This is the congressional seat that has been held by Ken Buck, but Buck has decided not to run for reelection. This district is a Republican stronghold, so the winner of the Republican primary will likely win the seat. Lynch joins a crowded race for the primary, with candidates including the controversial U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert from Rifle, CO. The intensity of the race has likely led to increased scrutiny of all candidates including Lynch, so the news of his DUI arrest is just coming to public awareness now. Interestingly, a few of the candidates for this position have had recent legal trouble. Boebert has had a few high-profile run-ins with the law, and Ike McCorkle was arrested in early January for violation of a protection order. 

The DUI arrest of such a high-profile political figure in Colorado is a good reminder that no one is immune to the risk of a DUI arrest if you drink and drive. Lynch told Colorado Public Radio that he typically isn’t a big drinker, so he let his guard down and wasn’t thinking, and in retrospect he should not have been driving. He told CPR news and the Denver Post that it was “obviously a bad choice,” and he made a mistake, but he has learned from that mistake. If you drink, then have a plan for getting home, whether that is a designated driver or taking a ride-share home.