Can I go to Jail for a DUI in Colorado?

DUI & DWAI – Jail time is possible even for a first offense so you’ll need to put on your best case.

If you have been charged with a DUI or DWAI, you likely have a lot of questions.  One of your first questions is probably about the type of sentence you are facing if you are convicted.  In DUI cases, particularly first-time offenses, the judge has a lot of discretion when it comes to a sentence.  Therefore, it is imperative to put on the best defense you can and lessen the likelihood of getting the book thrown at you.[1]  As you’ll see below, the sentences can range from minor (i.e., community service) to very harsh.

DWAI, DUI, and DUI per se – How were you charged?

There are three possible ways you could have been charged in Colorado:  DWAI, DUI, and DUI per se.  DWAI, or Driving While Ability Impaired, means driving a vehicle or motor vehicle[2] having had alcohol, drugs, or both, “that affects the person to the slightest degree.”[3]  Given the very low standard for this charge, the possible sentences are lower for first time offenses.  DUI is defined as driving a vehicle or motor vehicle having had alcohol or drugs, or both, “that affects the person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable . . . to exercise judgement, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.”[4]    Finally, “[a] person who drives a motor vehicle . . . when the person’s BAC is 0.08 or more at the time of driving or within two hours after driving commits DUI per se.”[5]  In order to assist you in considering the consequences you may be facing for  DUI or DWAI, I have created a summary of possible penalties below.[6]  These penalties do not include court costs and fees.

The Possible Sentences for DUI & DWAI

Offense Possible Prison Sentence? Mandatory Prison sentence? Fines? Probation? Public Service Hours?
1st DUI & DUI per se

(Misdemeanor)

Yes.

5 days –

1 year in county jail, unless BAC was 0.20 or higher, then 10 days – 1 year in county jail (but can be suspended).

Yes.

5 days (but can be suspended).  If 0.20 or higher, then 10 days but sentencing alternatives may exist.

Yes.

$600-$1000 (can be suspended)

Possible.

Up to 2 years.

Yes.

48-96 hours.

1st DWAI (Misdemeanor) Yes.

2 days – 180 days in county jail (but can be suspended), unless BAC was 0.20 or higher, then 10 days to 1 year.

Yes.

2 days (but can be suspended).

If 0.20 or higher, then 10 days but sentencing alternatives may exist.

Yes.

$200-$500 (can be suspended)

Possible.

Up to 2 years.

Yes.

24-48 hours.

2nd DUI, DUI per se or DWAI

(Misdemeanor)

Yes.

10 days – 1 year in county jail.

Yes. 10 Consecutive days. Sentencing alternatives may exist unless the first conviction was less than 5 years ago. Yes.

$600-$1500 (can be suspended)

Yes.

2 – 4 years (includes up to a 1-year suspended prison sentence that will be imposed if conditions of probation are not met).

Yes.

48-120 hours.

3rd DUI, DUI per se or DWAI

(Misdemeanor)

Yes.

60 days – 1 year in county jail.

Yes.

60 consecutive days.

Yes.

$600-$1500 (can be suspended)

Yes.

2 – 4 years (includes up to a 1-year suspended prison sentence that will be imposed if conditions of probation are not met).

Yes.

48-120 hours.

4th DUI

(Felony)

Yes.

2-6 years

(but 90-180 days of confinement or 120 days-2 years’ work release minimum if probation is ordered).

90 days. Possible.

$2000-$500,000.

Yes.

Minimum 3 years.

Yes.

48-120 hours.

Administrative Penalties for DUI

In addition to the possible sentences in the chart above, there are also possible administrative actions which can be taken against you.  This includes the revocation of your drivers’ license by the DMV. If you receive a Notice of Revocation from either the police officer or the DMV, you only have seven days to request a hearing to keep your license.  Failing to do so waives your right to the hearing absent good cause (such as being hospitalized or in prison).  The following chart summarizes the administrative penalties imposed in DUI, DUI per se, and DWAI cases.[7]

 

 

Offense

 

 

License Revocation or Suspension

 

Points on Driving Record

 

1st DUI/DUI per se Conviction

 

9 months

 

12 points

 

 

2nd DUI/DUI per se Conviction (within 5 years)

 

Minimum 1 year

 

12 points

 

3rd+ DUI/DUI per se Conviction

 

2 years – Indefinite

 

12 points

 

 

1st DWAI Conviction

 

No revocation

 

8 points

 

 

2nd DWAI Conviction

 

1 year

 

 

8 points

 

3rd+ DWAI Conviction

 

Indefinite (2 years minimum)

 

 

8 points

 

1st BAC test of 0.08 or higher

 

 

9 months

 

None

 

2nd BAC test of 0.08 or higher

 

 

1 year

 

None

 

3rd+ BAC test of 0.08 or higher

 

 

2 years

 

None

 

1st refusal to take BAC test

 

1 year

 

None

 

 

2nd refusal to take BAC test

 

2 years

 

None

 

 

3rd+ refusal to take BAC test

 

3 years

 

None

 

As you can see from the two charts, a conviction for DUI or DWAI, can carry severe criminal sentences and administrative penalties, including jail time, heavy fines, and the loss of your drivers’ license.  If you’ve been charged with a DUI, DWAI, or any crime, I invite you to call me for a free consultation.  With over 14 years of experience in criminal law, I have earned a reputation with my clients, prosecutors, and judges for being an aggressive counsel who uses every legal means to get clients’ charges reduced or dismissed, secure an acquittal at trial.  So give me a call.  I’d be happy to put that reputation and experience to work for you.

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[1] One way to put yourself in a good light before the judge is to take classes in advance that you’ll likely be ordered to take anyway.  See https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs/dui-services.  For more information, also see:  https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/DR2840.pdf.

[2] You may notice that vehicle and motor vehicle are separate.  “Vehicle” is very broad and includes bicycles.

[3] C.R.S. 42-4-1301(1)(g) (emphasis added).

[4] C.R.S. 42-4-1301(1)(f) (emphasis added).

[5] C.R.S. 42-4-1301(2)(a).

[6] This chart is based on C.R.S. 42-4-1307 and 18-1.3-401.  It is not intended as legal advice but as an aid in understanding the possible sentences if convicted.  This chart should not be relied on as a substitute for consultation with an attorney.

[7] This chart is based on C.R.S. 42-2-125, 42-2-126, 42-2-127.  Like the chart above, it is not intended as legal advice but as an aid in understanding the possible administrative actions and should not be relied on as a substitute for consultation with an attorney.


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