Most driving under the influence charges in Colorado are misdemeanors, but prosecutors may pursue felony charges. This will happen to so-called “four-strikes offenders,” repeat offenders or those with complicated circumstances surrounding their arrest. It can mean even more severe penalties that can have a lasting impact upon the defendant’s life.
For example, a fourth DUI or one that causes serious injury is a class 4 felony. The penalties can involve:
- $2,000 to $500,000 in fines
- Two to six years in a Colorado State Prison (not a county jail)
- A mandatory three year’s parole
A class 3 felony involves:
- $3,000 to $750,000 in fines
- Four to 12 years in prison
- Mandatory 5 years parole
There are alternatives
A strong legal defense can argue for leniency even if the defendant is guilty. It could involve:
- A shorter jail sentence
- Alternative sentencing like community service
- A willingness to participate in a drug or alcohol treatment program
- The use of an ignition interlock device on the defendant’s vehicle
- Other options that do not pose public safety risks
Defendants still have rights
Knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys can still fight to protect their client’s legal rights. As with misdemeanor DUIs, there may be no probable cause for the initial stop. The officer may have improperly administered the sobriety test, or the equipment was not functioning properly. If this is a situation where there are four strikes against the driver, the attorney may also argue that one or more of the previous charges were not DUIs even if they were alcohol-related. There may be other conditions that lead to reasonable doubt.
Whatever the circumstance, it is essential to work with an attorney who has experience handling the most challenging DUI cases. They can help defendants reclaim control of their lives and ensure that penalties reflect the crimes even when convicted.