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What Are Colorado’s DUI Penalties?

The consequences of a DUI conviction can be severe and long-lasting. They can include significant fines, lengthy jail time, and license suspensions and revocations. Having a criminal record due to a DUI conviction can make it difficult for you to obtain or maintain employment. For these reasons, it’s crucial to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney if you’ve been charged with any type of DUI-related offense.

The sentence for a DUI conviction will be based on several factors. Of course, the more prior convictions you have for driving under the influence, the more likely you will be sentenced to jail for a current offense. Other factors that determine your sentence include:

  1. Your blood alcohol level
  2. Whether there was a traffic accident, and whether it was your fault
  3. Whether anyone was injured
  4. Whether you were driving recklessly
  5. Steps taken since your arrest to address your alcohol or drug use
  6. Your demonstration of remorse and taking responsibility

First time offenders do not usually get sentenced to jail unless there are “aggravating factors,” such as a high BAC (.17% or higher), an accident that causes injury, driving on a suspended license or driving without a license, traveling at excessive speeds while intoxicated, having a minor in the car, and being convicted of multiple DUIs within a certain time-period.

If one of your aggravating factors is a high BAC and it is .20% or higher, you will also be sentenced to a mandatory 10 days in jail if you are convicted, even if it’s your first DUI offense.

Your jail sentence can be greater than one year in length if you are convicted of other charges along with your DUI, since the sentences for each offense can be added together, or “run consecutively.”

In addition to deciding whether you will have to serve a jail sentence, the judge will also decide how many community service hours you will be required to do, how long your probation will be, and how much alcohol or drug therapy you must complete. Fines, court costs, fees, surcharges, and probation costs are excessive.

In some cases, Denver area judges will allow you to serve a jail sentence on electronic monitoring, sometimes called “in-home detention.” This is a more likely possibility in Denver than in other counties, as Denver County judges tend to be more lenient than judges in other Colorado counties, and are less likely to issue a sentence to the Denver County jail. However, on second or subsequent offenses, the chances of being given in-home detention decrease.

Another option available to the judge is to sentence you to jail, but authorize “work release.” This means that you would be incarcerated at night, but be allowed to go to your normal job during the day. Generally, if the judge authorizes work release, he will increase the total number of days you must serve — to compensate for the leniency of allowing you to leave jail on a daily basis.

The penalty you will face with respect to your driving privilege is determined by the Colorado DMV, not the criminal court. There is a separate DMV hearing where this penalty is determined. The police officer involved in your DUI case will need to testify, but this is separate from the criminal matter. However, this hearing is a good opportunity for your lawyer to see what the officer’s testimony will be and how they present the case against you on the stand. For more information regarding the effect of a DUI and license suspension, please visit our DMV section.

Subsequent DUIs Carry Severe Consequences

Unsurprisingly, if you’ve already been convicted of a DUI in the past, your subsequent convictions will carry much harsher DUI penalties. For example, for a second DUI, your sentence can include the following:

  • Mandatory 10 days in jail (up to one year)
  • A fine of no more than $1,500
  • Loss of driver’s license for one year
  • Between 48 and 120 hours of community service
  • Up to four years of probation
  • Alcohol education classes

Once you’re convicted of a second DUI, you will also be classified as a persistent drunk driver, which requires you to take certain steps, such as installing an ignition interlock device in your car for at least two years, completing 24 hours of alcohol and drug education classes over 12 weeks, and obtaining and providing proof of a particular type of financial responsibility insurance coverage. These DUI penalties are separate from any of the other penalties you’re sentenced to as a result of your DUI charge.

Because the DUI penalties can increase with each conviction, it’s crucial to contact an experienced DUI defense attorney if you find yourself in this situation. You can also speak with a lawyer about contesting the fact that you’re being classified as a persistent drunk driver. This must be done quickly, so don’t hesitate when contacting an attorney.

Colorado Criminal DUI Penalties

Offense Class Jail Fine/Parole Public Service
1st DWAI Misdemeanor 2 – 180 days jail $200-$500 24 hrs – 48 hrs
1st DUI or DUI per se Misdemeanor 5 days – 1-year jail $600-$1000 48 hrs – 96 hrs
DWAI or DUI with 1 previous DWAI or DUI Misdemeanor 10 days – 1-year jail $600-$1500 48 hrs – 120 hrs
DWAI or DUI with 2 previous DWAI or DUI Misdemeanor 60 days – 1-year jail $600-$1500
48 hrs – 120 hrs
DWAI or DUI with 3 or more previous DWAI or DUI Class 4 felony 2 – 6 years imprisonment 3 years parole 48 hrs – 120 hrs
1st Under 21 drinking and driving (BAC for at least 0.02 but less than 0.05) Class A traffic infraction OR Class 2 traffic misdemeanor for subsequent offenses None; 10 – 90 days jail $15 – $100  OR
$150 – $300
Up to 24 hrs

Colorado DUI Administrative Penalties

Violation License Suspension Points
BAC test of at least 0.08 9 months
2nd BAC test of at least 0.08 12 months
3rd or subsequent BAC test of at least 0.08 24 months
DWAI None 8 points
1st DUI 9 months 12 points
2nd DUI or DWAI 12 months DWAI 8 points DUI 12 points
3rd DUI or DWAI 24 months DWAI 8 points DUI 12 points
1st Under 21 drinking and driving (BAC of at least 0.02 but less than 0.05) 3 months – 1st offense 6 months – 2nd offense 1 year – 3rd or subsequent offens 4 points

DUI Penalties Are Severe – Contact Churchill Criminal Defense

Being charged with a DUI is nothing to take lightly. The penalties can be quite severe and can have long-lasting consequences on your life. At Churchill Criminal Defense, we can help you to receive the best possible outcome for your case. Attorney Kevin Churchill has been handling DUI cases for more than 22 years. If you find yourself facing any type of DUI charge, contact Churchill Criminal Defense as soon as possible. We are always here to assist. Contact us today at 303-832-9000 or use our easy online contact form to schedule a free consultation.