Colorado laws do not look kindly upon those who drive under the influence. However, if it’s your first DUI offense, then the laws can work in your favor.
If you’re facing a DUI offense in Colorado, then it’s important to understand the law surrounding DUIs as well as the penalties for first-time offenders. Read on to find out more.
What Is a DUI in Colorado?
Colorado has two categories for drinking and driving. They are based on different levels of alcohol present in the bloodstream at the time of the arrest. These offenses and their associated blood alcohol levels are:
- DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired)– A blood alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.07
- DUI (Driving Under the Influence) – A blood alcohol level over 0.08
If you are a driver under the legal drinking age of 21 who is caught operating a car after drinking, then a blood alcohol level of 0.02 or more can land you with a DWAI or DUI charge.
Penalties for First Time DUI Offenses in Colorado
Colorado takes into account what other DUI offenses you may have a record of, as well as first-time offenses. A DUI by itself is a misdemeanor offense, which means that for a first-time DUI offense these penalties can be enforced:
- Up to one year in jail
- Fines up to $1,000
- Up to 96 hours of community service
- Loss of your driver’s license for up to one year
- Alcohol education classes and an evaluation
- A Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) course
If you are tested at the time of the offense and have a blood alcohol level of less than 0.08 but higher than 0.05, then you can be charged with a DWAI. If convicted, you can face theses penalties:
- Up to 180 days in jail
- Fines up to $500
- Up to 48 hours of community service
- 8 points against your driver’s license
It’s important to understand that after your first DUI/DWAI conviction that each subsequent conviction will result in harsher penalties.
Additionally, if you are caught driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 or higher, then you will be classified as a persistent drunk driver even if you’ve never had any previous convictions.
This can require penalties such as a two-year loss of your driver’s license and a mandatory ignition interlock device.
If your blood-alcohol level is 0.20 or higher, you will be required to serve a minimum of 10 days in jail, even if it is your first offense.
Colorado’s Treatment and Alcohol Education
For a first offense, the judge may choose to defer any sentence in exchange for participating in alcohol assessment, treatment, and education. This path may also lead to a reinstatement of a license sooner than expected.
Most first-time offenders will participate in a Level II alcohol education and treatment program, which is 24 hours of education along with required alcohol therapy. If you are convicted as a persistent drunk driver, then you may have to complete up to 52 hours of therapy along with the education.
Other Colorado DUI Sentencing Alternatives
There are other alternatives for first-time offenders that a judge may offer in lieu of jail. The most common include:
- Home detention
- Community service
It’s up to the judge to decide what is the appropriate sentence, but having an experienced attorney at your side may be able to help you get an alternative penalty for a first-time offense.
A DUI is a serious charge that can have a serious impact on your life. If you’re charged with a DUI, it’s important to understand all of your rights so that you get the fairest treatment in the courts and beyond.
About the Author:
Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.