What Are The Consequences Of A DUI Conviction?
DUI and DWAI are not one-size-fits-all; There are many factors that help to determine the potential punishments, including whether it is a first offense and whether anyone was injured or killed.
However, we can safely say that any drunk driving conviction has the potential to result in:
- A criminal record
- Increased insurance premiums
- $10,000 or more in fines
- Jail time
- Damage to your personal reputation
Can A DUI Ruin My Life?
Despite the mandatory sentences imposed under Colorado DUI laws there is still hope. Not every county court is created equal. Some courts are willing to utilize discretion where other courts may not be willing to be as flexible.
The actions you take now, including contacting an attorney, can play a crucial role in the outcome of your case and your future.
Can I Lose My License?
The short answer is yes, the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR) will try to penalize you by way of administrative proceedings and hearings. Simply put, they will try to take away your Colorado driver’s license.
If you have a BAC in excess of .08, as a first-time offender you face a mandatory minimum license suspension of nine months. However, CRS 42-2-126 allows for first-time offenders to apply for a restricted license after 30 days of revocation. If it is your second DUI, the driver’s license suspension penalties only increase. For example, CRS 42-2-126 states that a second-time offender will lose his or her license for one full year. For a third or subsequent offense, you are facing three years of license revocation.
Remember, DUI and DWAI convictions are considered “habitual traffic” strikes on your driving record. Three strikes in seven years and you lose your license for five whole years!
Should I Submit To A Breathalyzer Test?
Due to Colorado’s “express consent” laws, refusing to give consent to having your alcohol level tested will result in the suspension of your driver’s license for one year. You can fight the suspension at a hearing, where it is crucial to have an experienced attorney representing you.
What Are The Consequences For Underage DUI?
There are financial consequences such as fines and the potential for a suspended driver’s license, but the collateral consequences are particularly problematic for young people. Having an underage DUI conviction could bar you from receiving financial aid for college or even cause trouble with college admissions. You have your whole life ahead of you, and we will fight to make sure it is not prematurely derailed.
What If A DUI Isn’t The First?
Colorado’s DUI laws have gotten progressively tougher over the years. Each subsequent DUI comes with tougher penalties, working up to the extremely harsh consequences of a fourth DUI:
- A felony criminal record
- Up to six years in prison
- Fines as great as $500,000
To minimize the damage from felony DUI charges, it is critical to have an experienced defense lawyer looking out for you.
What defines a persistent drunk driver (PDD)?
Colorado law states that you may be declared a persistent drunk driver if one or more of the following is true:
- You have been convicted of two or more alcohol-related driving violations.
- You get caught driving under an alcohol-related restraint (DUR-Alc).
- You have a DUI with a blood alcohol content greater than 0.15% (measured within two hours after driving).
- You refused to take chemical test (blood, breath, urine) after being arrested for drunk driving or drugged driving.
The last two conditions can be met on a first offense, meaning that you could be labeled a PDD with no prior offenses.
What are the consequences of a PDD designation?
In Colorado, a PDD designation will result in the revocation of your driver’s license. In order to get it back, you must meet three requirements:
- Complete an education and treatment program related to alcohol (which often consists of 12 weeks of group classes totaling about 24 hours of instructional time)
- Have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your car, which will need to stay there for two years or more
- Fill out a form indicating proof of financial responsibility (sometimes called an SR-22), which proves that you have auto insurance and your policy meets minimum state requirements for coverage
Not only are these requirements a burden on your time, but they can also be expensive to meet.
How can I challenge PDD status?
You will need to challenge the designation in a DMV administrative hearing (called an express consent hearing), which is separate from your criminal case. The hearing must be requested within seven days of your arrest.
In order to challenge PDD status, you’ll need to challenge the drunk driving violation that triggered it. When doing so, it is essential that you work with attorneys who know how these cases are prosecuted. We have over 20 years of combined experience, including experience as former prosecutors. We know how the state builds drunk-driving cases, and we utilize that knowledge to craft the strongest defense possible in your case.
What’s the difference between DUI and DWAI?
The biggest difference is related to blood alcohol content, or BAC. DWAI in Colorado is a lesser offense when compared to a DUI. In Colorado, a driver who takes either a blood or a breath test and has between a .05% and .079% BAC is presumed to be DWAI. By contrast, a DUI conviction would require a BAC or .08% or higher.
According to Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1301, driving while ability impaired occurs when a the driver of a motor vehicle has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs (or a combination of both), that affects the person to the slightest degree so that they are less able than they ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically (or both), to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.
What are the penalties of a DWAI conviction?
While DWAI charges usually result in less punishment than DUI charges, both of these crimes can result in similar penalties, including fines, jail time, community service, driver’s license points and/or license suspension.
Repeat offenses have even harsher penalties:
- A DWAI conviction in Colorado will require a mandatory minimum sentence if you have a prior DUI or DWAI in your lifetime anywhere in the United States.
- A second DWAI charge and conviction can result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days in jail and a maximum sentence of up to one year in the county jail.
- A third or subsequent guilty finding on a DWAI in Colorado will result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 days in jail and up to a maximum sentence of one year in the county jail. The mandatory minimum on a third or subsequent offense may not be served via in-home detention (ankle monitor).
The bottom line is simple: any DWAI charge – even a first offense – needs to be taken seriously and defended with the help of an experienced attorney.
Will I have to fight to keep my driver’s license?
Fortunately, a driver who has a BAC of less than .08% will not have to fight their case at the DMV. The DMV only gets involved if the BAC is higher than .08%, which means, barring a bad driving record or previous points on your motor vehicle record (MVR), you should be OK.
That being said, please make sure you do your due diligence. Too often our DWAI defense lawyers have heard someone say, “I am fine; I have no other points on my record.” To be sure, they’ve pulled the client’s MVR, and, sure enough, there have been several points on their record from something like that speeding ticket last year, which our client had forgotten about.
So, if the DMV doesn’t care that I got a DWAI, do I still have to fight my case in court?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. You might not have to fight it at the DMV, but you still have to fight it in criminal court. A first offense does not have a mandatory minimum sentence, but you could potentially still face between two days and six months in the county jail.
As mentioned above, if you have repeat offenses or other aggravating factors, DWAI penalties can be nearly identical in most ways to a DUI. As such, you need to fight for your freedom and hire attorneys who regularly or exclusively handle these cases.
How do I fight against a DWAI charge?
You start by hiring our attorneys. When we take any drunk driving case, we begin by closely examining the evidence as well as how the evidence was obtained. We may be able to argue that:
- The traffic stop was illegal because the officer had no reason to pull you over.
- The field sobriety tests were administered or interpreted incorrectly.
- The breath-testing device was in need of service and calibration and therefore yielded an inaccurate result.
- The officer deviated from protocol in administering the test, leading to unreliable results.
- Your rights were violated in some other way.
The specific approach we take will depend on the details of the case. Suffice it to say, however, you likely have more options than you realize.
So, it looks like DWAI cases in Colorado are just as harsh as DUI cases. Do I have a hope and a prayer?
Despite the mandatory sentences imposed under Colorado DUI and DWAI laws, there is still hope. Through our experience in handling alcohol-related driving cases for over a combined 20 years, we have found that not every district attorney and judge in Colorado handles DWAI cases equally. Some courts are willing to use discretion and give you a break, whereas other courts may not be willing to be as flexible.
Hiring attorneys who know this important information is one of the best investments you can make. So, don’t take chances, and don’t look back on today as the day you made one bad decision turn into two bad decisions.
What are the penalties for DUID in Colorado?
Being convicted of a DUID involves the same penalties as a DUI, which vary depending on factors such as previous offenses and level of impairment. In both cases, you’re facing the threat of fines, jail time (or probation) and points on your license. In some cases, you face the potential loss of your license.
Which is worse, a DUI or a DUID?
As noted above, both offenses are the same in terms of penalties if convicted. That being said, DUID cases tend to be more complex and open to subjectivity, which sometimes makes them harder to defend.
Alcohol levels in the body are easy to measure, decrease consistently as a person sobers up and are generally good indicators of a person’s impairment. Drug use leaves evidence behind, but this evidence doesn’t necessarily prove impairment. For example, THC stays in the blood long after the high wears off. If you are a habitual user, you could have enough THC in your blood to be considered impaired even if you are not actually impaired.
I have been charged with a DUID. What now?
Beginning in 2010, Colorado DUI law changed in a very big way. Offenses committed after the 2010 effective date face stiffer, mandatory penalties, removing the ability for judges to utilize some discretion in the sentencing of repeat offenders.
First-time offenders face between five days and one year in jail. Fortunately, five days is not mandatory for a first-time offender, which means that the judge may decide to just give them probation.
A second DUI or DUID results in a mandatory minimum 10 days in jail and a maximum sentence of one year in the county jail. A third or subsequent offense can result in a mandatory minimum 60 days in jail that you cannot serve with home detention.
If I am found guilty, can I get probation instead of jail?
Usually, the answer comes down to whether you have any prior DUI or DWAI convictions or not. If you are a first-time offender or you have only one prior conviction, with the right DUI lawyer, most judges tend to want to give you another chance.
It is tough to tell whether you will be serving out a jail sentence or you will be given another chance on probation. Despite the harsh mandatory laws, there is still hope. Not every district attorney’s office and county court have a “put you away” mentality.
Some courts are willing to look at the mitigating factors like the alcohol and drug classes that your DUI lawyer has convinced you to sign up for and begin. Other courts may not be willing to be as flexible. A DUID in Douglas County Court may not be subject to the same sentencing policies as Denver County, El Paso County, Jefferson County or any others.
But be prepared: DUI probation is hard, and a judge is not going to think it is funny if you show up with a marijuana card and claim that you have a constitutional right to smoke weed. Let our lawyers help you. We have handled these tough cases before and know how to argue the science and the math to the people who are trying to put you in jail.
Do I Need A Lawyer?
You’re not required to have a lawyer handling your case, but it’s a good idea. There are many benefits to having a lawyer protecting your interests after a drunk driving arrest, including:
- Thorough investigation and case preparation
- Experience with the DUI defense process
- Negotiating favorable plea bargains, where necessary
- Aggressive defense of your rights at trial
- Answers to your questions
Above all else, you don’t know what you don’t know, and those gaps in knowledge and experience could be the difference between a favorable outcome and making your bed behind bars.