In Colorado, the penalties you'll face for a DUI or DWAI conviction depend primarily on the type of offense (DUI or DWAI) and the number of prior convictions the offender has. This article gives an overview of the penalties you'll face in Colorado for a first, second, and third DUI or DWAI conviction.
In Colorado, there are three categories of impaired driving:
So you can be convicted based on BAC or actual impairment.
A person is considered "under the influence" if substantial impairment affects the person's ability to operate a vehicle safely. If a defendant's BAC is .08% or more, it's inferred that the person was under the influence of alcohol.
"Ability impaired" means the person is only slightly impaired. A defendant is presumed to be DWAI if a chemical test shows a BAC of more than .05% but less than .08%.
For purposes of Colorado's impaired driving laws, "drive" and "drove" mean to exercise "actual physical control" over a vehicle, even if it's not actually moving. Under that definition, a person can be convicted of DUI, DWAI, or DUI per se without actually driving a vehicle.
In many states, DUIs stay on your record for a limited period of time. But Colorado counts all priors regardless of how long ago they occurred. So, to qualify as a first DUI or DWAI, the driver can't have any prior convictions in his or her lifetime.
For a first DUI, the offender is looking at:
These penalties are more severe than you'd face for a first DWAI conviction.
For a first DWAI, the offender is looking at:
You'll note that a first DWAI conviction doesn't result in license revocation or an IID requirement.
The penalties for a second DUI and second DWAI are the same and include:
For second convictions, the defendant must complete at least two years of probation. Conditions of probation typically require the offender to complete alcohol and drug driving safety education and a treatment program. The offender is also required to submit to alcohol monitoring and two more years of probation can be imposed for additional monitoring. A probation violation can result in up to a year in jail.
The penalties for a third DUI and third DWAI are the same and include:
For third convictions, the defendant must complete at least two years of probation (explained above in the second offense section).
A DUI is a felony in Colorado if the driver has three prior convictions or if the current offense involves injuries or deaths.
As a class 4 felony, a fourth DUI generally carries two to six years in prison and at least $2,000 in fines. However, if the judge grants probation, the offender will typically spend less than two years in jail.
An intoxicated motorist who causes serious injury to another person can be charged with vehicular assault, a class 4 felony. A conviction can result in two to six years in prison and a minimum of $2,000 in fines.
Causing the death of another person while driving under the influence is considered a vehicular homicide. Convicted motorists are looking at a class 3 felony, which carries four to 12 years in prison and at least $3,000 in fines.
All DUI, DUI per se, and DWAI offenders must complete an alcohol/drug evaluation and the recommended treatment program. The offender is usually responsible for all fees associated with treatment.
Motorists who refuse testing face one to three years of license revocation, depending on their record.
Drivers who fail a BAC test face nine months to two years of license revocation, depending on their record
For UDD offenses, there are criminal penalties and administrative consequences imposed by the DMV.
For a first offense, it's a class A traffic infraction for a person under 21 years of age to drive a motor vehicle with a BAC of at least .02% but not more than .05%. A second or subsequent UDD offense is a class 2 traffic misdemeanor. A conviction carries:
The judge generally won't impose license revocation if the driver's license was revoked administratively by the DMV.
Under Colorado's implied consent law, a BAC of at least .02% but less than .08% is considered a failed test for a driver under 21 years old. The license revocation periods are:
However, so long as the BAC was not more than .05%, the underage driver can request a 30-day revocation, to be followed by a two-month suspension. During the suspension period, the driver can obtain a probationary license. A probationary license can be used to drive for purposes of employment, education, health, or alcohol and drug education or treatment.
If you've been arrested for a DUI in Colorado, get in contact with an experienced DUI attorney. A qualified DUI lawyer can tell you how the law applies in your case, let you know if you have any viable defenses, and help you decide on the best course of action.