Colorado law prohibits you from driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or while your ability to drive is impaired by these substances. These offenses are often abbreviated in Colorado as DUI and DWAI.
But Colorado’s roads have gotten deadlier in the last decade despite the state’s strict laws. Law enforcement has reported a record number of instances of reckless and aggressive driving that often involved impaired drivers.
Accordingly, law enforcement has narrowed in on these offenses, and Colorado continues to experience higher-than-average levels of DUI arrests and convictions. The attorneys at The Ferrell Law Firm can help you understand what to do when you get a DUI in Colorado.
What to Do If Arrested for DUI in Colorado
Individuals stopped for a suspected DUI should both understand and exercise their rights. Typically, DUI cases begin when a law enforcement officer stops a driver they suspect is impaired.
The first thing to know is that the officer needs reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime (i.e., are impaired) before stopping you. Your attorney will know how to challenge the stop if it appears there was no reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.
But if the stop was legal, the officer will proceed with some steps to help them determine if you are impaired. Generally, following a stop, the officer will complete the following steps.
- Ask you to perform a sobriety test. In Colorado, drivers can refuse this test without an automatic penalty.
- If, after the tests, the police have probable cause to suspect you are drunk or impaired, they will arrest you and take you to jail.
- You will likely need to take a blood, breath, or urine test. It is important to note that the refusal to take these tests will result in a driver’s license suspension for one year.
- Law enforcement might impound your vehicle.
- And upon your arrest, you will be held in custody until you are sober or until you post bail.
After an arrest, the government might charge you with a DUI or DWAI. In some cases, prosecutors might charge you with other offenses related to drunk driving. For example, if the arrest stemmed from an accident, you might be charged with reckless driving.
What Happens When You Get a DUI in Colorado
There are both administrative and criminal penalties for a DUI charge in Colorado. In addition, many people convicted of DUI face collateral consequences that can impact their familial relationships and livelihoods. Defending against these charges is crucial to mitigating the potential long-lasting impact of a DUI arrest.
Criminal Penalties for Colorado DUI
Colorado courts impose criminal penalties upon those convicted of DUI.
- 1st time DWAI: This is a misdemeanor that is punishable by 2-180 days in jail, a $200-$500 fine, and 24 to 48 hours of community service.
- 1st DUI or DUI per se: This is a misdemeanor punishable by 5 days to 1 year in jail, a $600-$1,000 fine, and 48 to 96 hours of community service.
- DWAI or DUI with one previous DWAI or DUI: This would be a misdemeanor. It is punishable by 10 to 365 days in jail, a fine of $600-$1,500, and 48 to 120 hours of community service.
- DWAI or DUI with two previous DWAIs or DUIs: This is also a misdemeanor that is punishable by 60 to 365 days in jail, a fine of $600-$1,500, and 48 to 120 hours of community service.
- DWAI or DUI with three or more previous DWAIs or DUIs: This would be a class 4 felony. Such a felony is punishable by 2 to 6 years imprisonment, 3 years parole, and 48 to 120 hours of community service.
- 1st underage drinking and driving (UDD) offense (BAC 0.02% < 0.05%): This is a class A traffic infraction that carries a sentence of $15 – $100 fine and up to 24 hours of community service.
- 2nd or subsequent UDD offense (BAC 0.02% < 0.05%): this would be a class 2 traffic misdemeanor, punishable by 10 – 90 days in jail and a $150 – $300 fine.
Sometimes, a person can reduce criminal penalties through a plea agreement or by entering an alcohol or drug treatment program.
Administrative Consequences for a Colorado DUI
Administrative penalties typically include suspension or revocation of your driver’s license and an assessment of points.
The administrative penalties include the following:
- BAC test of at least 0.08% while driving: 9 months license revocation;
- 2nd BAC test of at least 0.08% while driving: 12 months license revocation;
- 3rd or subsequent BAC test of at least 0.08% while driving: 24 months license revocation;
- DWAI: 8 points on your license;
- 1st DUI: 9 months license revocation and 12 points on your license;
- 2nd DUI or DWAI: 12 months license revocation, and 8 points on your license for a DWAI or 12 points on your license for a DUI; and
- 3rd DUI or DWAI: 24 months license revocation and 8 points for a DWAI or 12 points for a DUI.
The law permits individuals to request a hearing with a DMV hearing officer and the arresting officer before restrictions go into place. It is essential that individuals contact a criminal defense attorney to learn about their rights and defenses.
Defenses to Colorado DUI
An experienced attorney can help individuals accused of drunk or impaired driving beat their cases or secure reduced penalties and fines.
Some defenses an attorney can present include the following:
- Law enforcement lacked reasonable suspicion to stop you;
- Law enforcement provided incorrect field sobriety test instructions;
- Law enforcement lacked probable cause to arrest you;
- The chemical tests were inaccurate; or
- The government cannot prove its case because its witnesses lack credibility.
However, these cases are fact and case-specific. It is vital that those facing such charges consult with an attorney that has a comprehensive understanding of complex criminal laws.
Wondering What to Do After Getting a DUI in Colorado? Contact The Ferrell Law Firm
You are not alone if you’re wondering, What happens if you get a DUI in Colorado? But the better question is, What can you do about it?
Remember, an arrest isn’t the same thing as a conviction, and it’s up to the government to prove its case against you.
At The Ferrell Law Firm, PLLC, we have extensive experience defending the rights, freedoms, and driving privileges of good people charged with DUI offenses. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Ferrell commands a first-hand knowledge of how the prosecution will approach your case, so he can develop a compelling defense that anticipates their every move.