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Denver Felony DUI

Driving under the influence is always a very serious offense, but in some circumstances, it’s charged as a misdemeanor. Repeat offenders can end up with a felony conviction for DUI, which can have dramatic, lifelong consequences. You may lose your license, have to serve significant prison time, and you may have to pay incredibly steep fines. If you or a loved one was arrested for driving under the influence, Attorney Kevin Churchill from Churchill Criminal Defense can assist. Contact our Denver felony DUI defense attorney today at (303) 832-9000 or use our easy online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

When is a DUI a Felony?

There are a few circumstances where a DUI can be charged as a felony.

1. Fourth DUI or DWAI

If you have three prior DUI-related convictions and you are charged with a fourth one, it will be charged as a felony. In some states, there’s a “lookback period,” which means that if the DUI conviction was a certain number of years before the current DUI charge, it won’t count as a prior conviction as far as charging and sentencing goes. However, in the state of Colorado, it doesn’t matter when your prior DUI convictions occurred. If you had three DUI convictions 25 years ago and you are charged with a fourth, it will still be charged as a felony.

It also doesn’t matter in which state you were living in as far as where your prior DUI convictions are concerned. If you have previous convictions from three different states and then are charged with a fourth DUI in Colorado, it will be charged as a felony.

Driving while ability impaired (DWAI) counts as a prior DUI-related conviction. Even though it’s a less serious offense, it counts toward your number of DUI convictions and can lead to a felony charge for a DUI.

2. DUI Where Someone was Injured

Another scenario in which a DUI in Colorado would be charged as a felony is if someone was seriously injured. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first DUI or your 10th, you will still be charged with a felony in the following circumstances:

  • Someone was seriously permanently disfigured
  • Someone lost bodily function or organ function
  • Someone sustained broken bones or fractures
  • Someone sustained serious burns – second or third degree

When you’re charged with a DUI that caused life-taking injuries to another person, it’s typically referred to as vehicular manslaughter in Denver.

3. DUI Where Someone was Killed

If you’re arrested for driving under the influence and another person lost their life as a result of your driving, this will be charged as a felony even if you have no prior DUI convictions.

Penalties For Denver Felony DUI

In Colorado, felony DUIs are charged as Class 4 or Class 3 felonies. If you have three prior convictions or someone was seriously injured as a result of your DUI charge, this is a Class 4 felony. This includes drug DUI charges in Colorado. The potential penalties include the following:

  • A fine of between $2,000 and 500,000
  • Between two and six years in state prison with a mandatory parole period of three years.
  • If the judge decides to sentence the offender to probation, the sentence must also include between 90 and 180 days in jail or between 120 days and two years in jail through an alternative sentencing program
  • Between 48 and 120 hours of community service
  • Level II alcohol and drug classes

If you’re charged with a DUI where a person was killed as a result, it’s a class three felony, and the potential penalties include the following:

  • A fine of between $3,000 and $750,000
  • Between four and 12 years in prison with a mandatory parole period of five years

When the judge is deciding whether to sentence the offender to prison or probation, they typically consider the following factors:

  • Whether the defendant is willing to participate in an alcohol and/or drug treatment program; and
  • Whether the judge can impose a sentence other than a prison term, which might be beneficial to the defendant, but doesn’t pose an unacceptable risk to public safety.

If the offender is sentenced to prison, once they are released, they are required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle while they are on parole. If you are a habitual traffic offender in Denver, your punishment or sentence will be much more severe.

Other Consequences of Felony DUI Conviction

In addition to the potential penalties listed above, there are other adverse consequences that an individual will be faced with if convicted of a felony DUI. You will lose your driver’s license for at least one year. It’s also almost certain that your car insurance rates will increase significantly. For many people, losing their driver’s license is more devastating than having a felony conviction on their record. Not having a license might prevent you from getting to work, picking up your children from school, shopping for groceries, and all of the other small things that many of us take for granted when we have a driver’s license.

Every Subsequent DUI is a Felony

After you’ve been convicted of three DUIs, each subsequent time you are charged with a DUI, it will be charged as a felony. It will also probably carry significant jail time.

Let Churchill Criminal Defense Help You Avoid a Denver Felony DUI Conviction

Felony convictions can have severe consequences in your life, especially when it’s a DUI conviction. It can affect your ability to obtain certain jobs and housing. You can also spend significant time in jail if you’re convicted of a felony DUI. If you’re facing a felony DUI charge, it’s essential to contact an attorney as soon as possible because the results of a felony conviction can be very difficult to deal with in the future. Attorney Kevin Churchill has been handling DUI cases for more than two decades, so he knows the ins and outs of the law and how to defend you. When you hire Kevin Churchill of Churchill Criminal Defense, you can be confident that you’re hiring a lawyer who genuinely cares about you and your case and who has the experience to assist you. Contact us today at 303-832-9000 or use our easy online contact form to schedule a free consultation with our Denver felony DUI defense attorney.