Colorado’s impaired driving laws focus on reducing the number of impaired drivers in order to limit risk to Coloradans. The statutes that govern DUIs and DWAIs cover the penalties that you will likely face if convicted of an impaired driving offense. However, certain aspects of the law offer some leeway into getting your driving privileges back after your first DUI.
DUIs are one of the most common criminal offenses in the United States. However, the law around impaired driving offenses can be nuanced and challenging. In this post, we will discuss the penalties you will likely encounter as well as what you can do to lower the severity or longevity of these charges.
The Penalties You Should Expect After Your First DUI in CO
In our state, there are different types of impaired driving charges, and the consequences you face depend upon your specific situation. These varying circumstances include but are not limited to:
- Whether or not you refused a blood or breath test
- Your blood alcohol content (BAC)
- Your obedience to the reinstatement process
We will cover how each of these factors will affect your legal proceedings.
While specific circumstances can impact quite a bit, your charge will generally be classified as one of three discrete categories of impaired driving:
DUI. Driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both
DWAI. Driving a vehicle while “ability impaired” by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both
DUI per se. Operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher
Note that a DUI is not simply operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. You can still be charged with a DUI even if your BAC is less than 0.08%. Additionally, you can be charged with both a DUI and a DUI per se.
The state of Colorado will penalize you both criminally and administratively — through the court and through the DMV.
Note that If you are under the age of 21, the thresholds and consequences may differ.
Penalties You Should Expect Following Your First DUI in Colorado
Let’s take a look at what you might encounter in terms of criminal penalties from the Colorado court.
- Five days to one year max in jail, although there is no mandatory jail time
- Period of probation of up to two years
- Financial penalties will be in the range of $600 – $1,000
- 24-48 hours of public service
As for administrative penalties, the Department of Revenue of the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will be looking at your driving privileges to penalize.
- Nine months of license revocation
- Demerit points assigned to your record depending on whether or not a criminal conviction was ordered
Achieving Reinstatement of a Permanent License After Revocation
After completing just one month of revocation of your license, if you were 21 or older at the time of the violation, are a Colorado resident, and have no other unsatisfied license restraint, you become eligible for an early reinstatement. If granted, you will be provided a restricted license with interlock for the remaining total reinstatement period (eight months).
During the interlock phase, you will be required to:
- Install a Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in every vehicle you will drive for the remainder of the restraint period
- Meet all other reinstatement requirements
All reinstatements are processed by mail, so you should start the reinstatement process three to four weeks before you expect to be reinstated.
What to Expect If You Refuse a Colorado Blood or Breath Test
You have a right to refuse to take the chemical test used to determine sobriety. If you choose to do so, your period of revocation will be one year.
You will be eligible for early reinstatement after completing two months of the revocation — provided you meet the same requirements as listed for failing a blood or breath chemistry test. The only difference, however, is that you will be required to drive with a license with interlock for the time remaining on the total restraint, or two years, whichever is longer.
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.