Contrary to popular belief, a first DUI offense in Colorado is not considered a traffic crime but a misdemeanor offense. For comparison, it is similar to a class 1 misdemeanor in terms of severity. If convicted, you can spend up to a year in jail, lose your license for up to nine months, and spend thousands in court costs and fees.
The penalties for first-time DUI in Colorado will depend on a few factors, including your level of alcohol and drunk driving convictions. Penalties for a first-time DUI conviction in Colorado can include:
- Alcohol education classes
- Up to 96 hours of community service
- Revocation of license for up to 9 months
- Five days up to a year in jail
- Fine of up to $1,000
If you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, you can face a DUI per se charge. However, you can still face charges for driving while ability impaired (DWAI) based on the observations of the police. DWAI penalties are slightly less severe compared to a first-time DUI charge. Some of the penalties include:
- Community service for up to 48 hours
- Fine of up to $500
- Two days up to 180 days in jail
- Eight points against your license
If you fail to request a DMV hearing within seven days after your DUI arrest, your license will be suspended automatically. The Colorado DMV will suspend the driver’s license after a DUI arrest even if you are found “not guilty” later. After your DUI arrest, an enforcement officer will take possession of your driver’s license.
A temporary permit will be issued seven days after the issuance date. If you want to keep your license, you must request a hearing in writing within seven days after your arrest. If convicted of a first-time DUI, your driver’s license may be suspended for up to nine months.
If convicted of DWAI, 8 points will be added to your DMV record, but you may still be able to keep your license. However, your license can be suspended if 12 or more points are added within 12 months.
Most states have a “washout period” or “lookback period” for considering previous drunk driving offenses. The lookback or washout period refers to the amount of time to look back to check if you have a prior DUI. In Colorado, there is no limited lookback period for previous DUIs.
This means any prior DUI in any territory or state will be considered a prior DUI. For instance, if you had a previous DUI conviction a decade ago, it will still be considered a prior DUI. However, a judge might consider the amount of time that has passed when it comes to the sentencing.
In Colorado, a first-time DUI conviction can result in a traffic misdemeanor criminal record. Often, you cannot have your criminal record sealed, or your DUI expunged if you are an adult. Unlike other states, Colorado will only allow the sealing of criminal records or expungement for minors prosecuted in juvenile court.
If you want to avoid a criminal record for a drunk driving arrest, you need to fight the criminal charges in court. This is where the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer can come in handy. It would be best to work with a lawyer with a proven track record of successfully fighting DUI charges.
If arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or drunk driving, you need to work with an experienced Colorado DUI defense lawyer immediately. You must remember that you only have seven days to request a hearing if you want to keep your license. Your chosen DUI defense lawyer can help you with the following:
Gathering of Evidence
Building your case will require gathering evidence. This includes:
- Obtaining arrest records
- Interviewing witnesses
- Obtaining audio and video evidence of the traffic stop
- Reviewing chemical test results
- Taking photographs of the crime scene
- Determining if authorities have calibrated and maintained testing equipment properly
Filing Motions and Legal Research
Your lawyer will use the evidence gathered for motion writing and legal research to support your case. Case in point: your lawyer has the option to file a motion to challenge the evidence and police actions. This can include filing motions to suppress any evidence based on the following:
- Miranda right violations
- Breath testing errors
- Improper breath testing procedures
- Raising blood alcohol
- Medical conditions that result in a false BAC result
- No probable cause for a chemical test
Lastly, your DUI defense lawyer knows what to do to ensure you get the best deal from the prosecutor. Many drunk driving cases won’t go to trial, so you must have a competent lawyer backing you up. The right lawyer can help you reduce your criminal charges and avoid possible jail time.
Victoria Brown currently works as the Marketing and Communications Specialist at Law Offices of Brian D. Sloan. Her experiences with DUI cases in the past have inspired her to spread awareness about DUI laws in the United States.