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How Much Jail Time May I Face If I am Convicted of Driving While Intoxicated?

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Whether you’ll spend time in jail, and if so, for how long, depends on many issues and the charges you face. Hiring a Denver DUI defense attorney who knows the laws and how the criminal justice system works (and doesn’t work) may help prevent you from spending time behind bars or may reduce the time you’ll need to serve. 

What Types of Charges May I Face? 

Colorado law prohibits you from driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or while your ability to drive is impaired by either. There are different types of charges you may face depending on the situation: 

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI): You’re under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination. You’re substantially incapable (physically, mentally, or both) of exercising sufficient physical control, clear judgment, or due care in safely operating a vehicle  
  • DUI per se: Your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is 0.08 or higher while you’re driving or within two hours after you stop  
  • Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI): You’re impaired by one or more drugs, alcohol, or a combination. You’re affected to the slightest degree, and you’re not as able as you’d ordinarily be (physically, mentally, or both) to use clear judgment, enough physical control, or due care when safely operating a vehicle  
  • Underage Drinking and Driving (UDD): You are younger than the legal drinking age of 21 and have a BAC level from 0.02 percent to no more than 0.05 percent within two hours of driving 

You may have effective defenses against these charges, depending on the strength of the evidence against you and mistakes that law enforcement may have made before encountering you, while investigating the incident, and after your arrest. 

What Sentence May I Face If I’m Convicted? 

Your sentence depends on your charges and how many prior convictions you have.    

Offense Classification Max. Possible Penalty (Jail/Prison)
First DWAI Misdemeanor   2 – 180 days
First DUI or DUI per se Misdemeanor 5 days – 1 year
DWAI or DUI with one prior DWAI or DUI Misdemeanor 10 days – 1 year
DWAI or DUI with two prior DWAI or DUI  Misdemeanor 60 days – 1 year
DWAI or DUI with three or more prior DWAI or DUI Class four felony 2 – 6 years
First UDD offense (BAC 0.02 < 0.05) Class A traffic infraction none
Second or subsequent UDD offense (BAC 0.02 < 0.05) Class two traffic misdemeanor 10 – 90 days

This is just the beginning. If you’re also convicted of other crimes, their sentences may be served at the same time or one after the other. If you’re affected by alcohol or drugs, and you cause an accident resulting in injury (vehicular assault) or death (vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter) your sentence will be affected:  

  • Vehicular homicide while DUI is a class three felony (four to 12 years in prison), while DWAI is a class four felony (two to six years)  
  • Vehicular assault while DUI is a class four felony, while DWAI is a class five felony (one to three years) 

Depending on the circumstances, driving under the influence can mean spending a long time in prison. Although the jail times listed above are the maximum allowable in the statutes, your attorney may be able to negotiate a sentence that does not include jail time. Hiring a defense attorney can be critical to defending your rights, freedom, and future. 

A Denver DUI Attorney Can Help You  

Contact us if you are charged with DUI, DWAI, or UDD. We have handled these cases for more than 24 years and are always here to help. Kevin Churchill of Churchill DUI Defense genuinely cares about the outcome of your case. Call us at (303) 832-9000, or use our easy online contact form to schedule a free consultation.