With harsher criminal penalties and administrative consequences, it is critical to avoid a second DUI. Having a second DUI can result in a permanent criminal record and driving record at the DMV.
Penalties for a First DUI in Colorado
Wondering what happens when you get a second DUI in Colorado? Since the fourth lifetime DUI became a felony in 2015, prior convictions may now have stricter consequences. No matter what you think you know about how it works when you’re charged with a DUI or DWAI, it may be outdated information.
Here are the sentencing guidelines for a first offense DUI in Colorado:
1. Jail – a minimum of 5 days to a maximum of 1 year.
2. Fine – a minimum of $600 to a maximum of $1000.
3. Community Service – a minimum of 48 hours to a maximum of 96 hours.
4. Probation – a minimum of no time to a maximum of 2 years.
These are guidelines only, and they don’t represent the full scope of a judge’s sentencing options. You may be required by law to stay sober, avoiding the use of any alcohol or the excessive use of alcohol. You may also be required to avoid the use of drugs as well. Monitoring devices and mandatory attendance at a victim impact panel may be part of a first DUI offense sentence, depending on the circumstances of your arrest.
The jail time may be replaced with the requirement for alcohol and drug evaluation. Based on the outcome of your evaluation, mandatory classes and therapy may be ordered. If the classes and/or therapy are not completed to the satisfaction of the court, then jail time may be reinstated.
Your breath alcohol content at the time of your first DUI arrest is a consideration for sentencing upon conviction. BAC of 0.20 or more leads to a 10-day mandatory jail sentence, and that’s the minimum requirement. It may be even longer, and it can’t be suspended.
In addition, your driver’s license may be revoked for nine months, or longer if the arresting officer indicates that you refused to be tested. The DMV may also require use of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for up to two years.
In Colorado, the charge is DWAI for a blood alcohol content of .05 up to .08, which is a misdemeanor and may carry lesser penalties. However, for any BAC .08 and greater, the charge will be DUI. Drivers who are younger than 21 and who have a BAC of .02 to .05 can be charged with a UDD.
For a first DUI, the charge will likely be a misdemeanor. However, felony charges such as vehicular assault may be charged if the vehicle accident resulted in serious injuries.
What is a Second DUI Offense in Colorado?
What happens when you get a second DUI offense in Colorado is the second step towards becoming a felon on your fourth offense. Try to think of it that way because that’s how the law sees it. Under certain circumstances, felony charges may come up on a first, second or third DUI, but it will certainly happen on the fourth one now.
And another certainty is a minimum of 10 days in the county jail, with a possible maximum of one year.
When you drive in Colorado, you have given your consent to be tested if an officer suspects you’ve been using alcohol or drugs. That goes for any approved test – breath, blood or urine. Except for the preliminary breath test, if you refuse the other tests it puts you at risk of driver’s license revocation for a period of one year.
The difference between suspension and revocation of a driver’s license is this – suspension is temporary, revocation is more permanent. When a suspension ends, the license become valid again, usually with the payment of fines. But a revoked license stays revoked until the license holder goes through various steps to obtain a new driver’s license. And both may cost you your insurance coverage or raise your rates significantly.
After you are charged with DUI, you only have seven or ten days to request a DMV hearing, depending on which test you were administered and the method of service. The hearing must be scheduled within the next 60 days. If you don’t request the hearing within seven days, your license is automatically revoked. It’s not subject to negotiation at all.
Even visitors to the State of Colorado are required to schedule and attend a DMV hearing for a DUI. Most states share information about DUI arrests and convictions, so a non-resident can still lose driving privileges in their home state, based on their Colorado arrest.
A second DUI offense is partially determined by where and when the first DUI offense occurred, and whether there was serious personal injury to other drivers, passengers or pedestrians. All these factors also contribute to criminal charges, if any.
Bodily injury sustained by others involved in that accident can result in up to five years of prison time as well as big fines for you.
The Rule, Punishment, and Penalty of a Second DUI in Colorado
Everybody knows the rule. The short version is, “Don’t drink and drive.” We know it and we can explain it to other people, but we may make a conscious or unconscious choice to violate the rule.
If we get caught violating the rule, we face consequences. The list of possible consequences is long and complex, but it boils down to whether you already have a prior criminal record or not, and whether serious bodily harm was inflicted on people in any accident you may have caused while drinking and driving.
If one or both of those conditions describes you, don’t assume a court will be lenient. And be sure to hire an experienced lawyer to defend you because there will be a lot of legal issues to sort out, long before your day in court.
Here are the sentencing guidelines for a second offense DUI in Colorado:
1. Jail – a minimum of 10 days to a maximum of 1 year.
2. Suspended jail – 1 year.
3. Fine – a minimum of $600 to a maximum of $1500.
4. Community Service – a minimum of 48 hours to a maximum of 120 hours.
5. Probation – a minimum of 2 years to a maximum of 4 years.
These five items are guidelines, subject to modification by the judge, based on your record and the circumstances of your DUI arrest.
Naturally, incarceration is punishment. Community service is also punishment if it gets in the way of other things you’d rather be doing. Probation is a form of punishment, too. And a monetary fine is a penalty.
Loss of driving privileges is both a punishment and a penalty, if your income suffers because you can’t drive. When your driver’s license is suspended or revoked, you lose the convenience of driving, and possibly much more.
A second DUI offense puts a person into the category of repeat offender. It means there’s no forgiveness anymore, and it means the sentencing guidelines become more stringent. Studies have shown that at least one third of DUI arrests involve repeat offenders.
On the third DUI offense in Colorado, there’s a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 60 days, and a maximum of 1 year. Other sentencing guidelines remain the same as stated for a second DUI.
Alternative Sentencing Options for Second DUI Offense in Colorado
Alternative sentencing options may be available to substitute for the jail time component in a DUI sentence. A judge may agree that straight jail time is not as appropriate as one or more other options, but these ideas don’t originate with the judge. Your lawyer suggests one or more alternatives to your judge for his or her consideration, which is why you need a skilled lawyer handling your case.
In Colorado, alternative sentencing options for a second DUI include:
1. In-home detention – This alternative may not confine you to the house at all times. You may be allowed to go to work, school, and medical and court-appointed treatment appointments. You may be monitored electronically by a basic electronic device you wear, GPS monitoring on your phone, a secure continuous remote alcohol monitor (SCRAM) or a patch.
2. Work release – This alternative involves a specialized facility where you live for the period of time you were sentenced to jail, but unlike jail, you’re allowed to leave to go to work each day.
A DUI Lawyer Can Influence What Happens at a Second DUI Hearing in Colorado
If you are facing a second DUI, it is important that you contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer. He or she can fight the admission of evidence that may be detrimental to your case. Your DUI defense lawyer can investigate the underlying events that led up to your arrest and challenge the constitutionality of the stop. He or she can also challenge the prosecutor’s witnesses and the methods used to acquire evidence against you. Your lawyer can discuss possibilities regarding a plea agreement if this is in your best interest.