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These things escalate DUI penalties

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2023 | Criminal Law, Drunk Driving Charges, DUI and DWAI Charges |

The U.S. criminal law system works in degrees, going from least severe charges to the most severe charges. In many states, there will be a charge like second-degree assault, but Colorado’s sliding system of justice uses Class 1 through 6 (6 being the most severe) for felonies. There is also level I and II for misdemeanors and traffic misdemeanors. The charges are based on mitigating circumstances that increase the seriousness and the potential penalties. These circumstances can take a DUI from a five-day jail term and a nine-month revocation to several years in prison and a permanent loss of license.

These are common reasons why DUI charges increase in severity:

  • Blood alcohol level: It goes from a misdemeanor to a felony when the BAC is .16 or higher. Jail time is mandatory if the BAC is .20% or higher.
  • Causing harm: Those who cause an accident while driving under the influence will face heightened charges. The charges are more serious when the driver causing the accident drove recklessly and caused an injury. DUI vehicular homicide is one of the most serious charges, so it is a Class 3 felony with up to 12 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.
  • Previous offenses: The size of the fines, length of the sentence and other penalties increase when the driver is a repeat offender, mainly if the violations occur within a few years of each other.
  • Child in the vehicle: Parents don’t often know it, but driving under the influence with a child in the car can be a felony.
  • Suspended license: Getting a DUI when driving with a suspended license could be a felony.

Sentences may include other charges besides DUI. While the DUI may be low level, additional crimes can escalate the seriousness.

It may be a matter of negotiation

It is an issue of severity and penalties in many DUI cases. While criminal defense attorney work to protect the innocent, they also strive to minimize the penalties and disruption to the defendant’s life. It can involve more community service, extra alcohol education classes, a monitoring system and an ignition interlock device. Those facing more serious criminal charges can discuss their options and work toward a viable solution that possibly enables them to continue to work, support a family and contribute to society.