In Colorado, penalties for drinking under the influence (DUI) are harsh and increase with each offense. Penalties for less than four DUIs are treated as misdemeanor offenses, which are relatively minor crimes. As of August 2017, anyone convicted of a fourth DUI will be charged with a felony DUI, carrying mandatory prison time.  A DUI charge is a serious offense, and a felony DUI guarantees some jail time.

Colorado’s Drunk Driving Laws

Colorado has two different charges for those who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The first, driving while ability impaired (DWAI), requires a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of at least 0.05 percent but less than 0.08 percent. A conviction under DWAI is usually a misdemeanor offense. You will receive points on your license, and penalties can include jail time, fines, and mandatory community service.

A conviction under driving under the influence (DUI) requires drivers to have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. Depending on the number of convictions, a DUI charge can either be a misdemeanor or a felony.

A law enforcement officer or medical professional usually administers a breathalyzer or blood test to determine a driver’s blood alcohol concentration. Because Colorado maintains an “express consent” law, any driver suspected of DUI or DWAI must submit to a breathalyzer or blood test. A refusal to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test can be used against the driver.

Below, we examine how Colorado penalizes DUI convictions and how the penalties range with each offense:

First-time DUI offense (Misdemeanor Offense)

If a driver does not have any prior DUI convictions in Colorado or any other state, they will be considered a first time DUI offender and charged with a misdemeanor offense.

For a first DUI offense in Colorado, penalties include:

  • Nine-month driver’s license revocation
  • 12 DMV points
  • Jail time of five days to one year
  • Two years’ probation
  • 48-96 hours of public service
  • Fines of $600-$1000, fees and court costs
  • Participation in an alcohol education program.

If the driver has a high BAC level, or if the driver causes an accident, then the penalties can increase depending on the severity of harm caused.

Second-time DUI offense (Misdemeanor offense)

A second DUI offense is treated as a misdemeanor. Penalties include:

  • One-year driver’s license revocation
  • 12 DMV points
  • Ignition interlock device for two years (used to prevent the car from starting if alcohol is detected)
  • Jail time of 10 days to one year
  • 48-120 hours of public service
  • Fines of $600-$1,500, fees and court costs
  • Participation in an alcohol education program

Third-time DUI offense (Misdemeanor Offense)

  • Two-year driver’s license revocation
  • 12 DMV points
  • Ignition interlock device for two years
  • Jail time of 60 days to one year
  • 48-120 hours of public service
  • Fines of $600-$1,500, fees, and court costs
  • Participation in an alcohol education program

Fourth-time DUI offense (Felony Offense)

If a driver is arrested a fourth time for a DUI, then the offense will be treated as a class 4 felony. Even if the prior DUIs happened outside Colorado, those convictions still count towards the 3 prior DUIs needed for a felony DUI conviction. Colorado treats four DWAIs as a felony offense. Any felony conviction can affect housing, employment, and community support.

Penalties for a fourth DUI include:

  • 2–6 years in Colorado State Prison with three-year parole. The court has the ability to grand probation with three months of jail time served. The court also can increase the sentencing range from four to 12 years if there are “extraordinary aggravating circumstances.”
  • Fines of $2,000-$500,000, fees, and court costs
  • Two-year license suspension
  • Ignition interlock device

DUI is a Serious Charge

A charge of DUI is a serious charge that requires a serious defense. Our lawyers at the Moorhead Law Group have a demonstrated track record of success. If you have been arrested for DUI or another criminal matter, contact our office at 303-586-6912 or online.