The holidays are a busy time, full of parties and celebrations with loved ones. Often these gatherings go off without a hitch but if alcohol is a part of the festivities motorists may find themselves faced with charges of driving under the influence.

The Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies are increasing DUI enforcement efforts this holiday season in an attempt to catch more holiday revelers who may have had one too many cups of eggnog before getting behind the wheel.

The crackdown will continue through New Year's and the most recent enforcement period saw more than 535 DUI arrests. During the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's last year, more than 1,680 Coloradans were arrested on suspicion of DUI.

A conviction of driving under the influence can come with severe consequences in Colorado. Those charged may face monetary penalties, mandatory ignition interlock devices, treatment programs or even jail time. The average DUI in Colorado costs up to $10,000 and can result in losing your license for up to a year.

These penalties often increase with multiple offenses and can leave a lasting mark on your record. In addition to traditional criminal penalties, defendants may also face a loss of professional licenses - or academic consequences for students.

If you are facing charges of impaired driving, it is important to speak with a criminal defense attorney experienced in DUI matters right away. They can help you build a defense and ensure that your rights are protected in the criminal justice system.

Source: The Journal-Advocate, "Holiday crackdown on drunk driving runs through New Year's," Nov. 30, 2012