You’ve likely heard of a statute of limitations on crimes such as murder or theft, but what about a crime like driving under the influence? Is there a statute of limitations for a DUI in Colorado?
The answer, which may surprise you, is yes. But there are factors that influence the length of that statute of limitations. Here’s what you need to know about the statute of limitations in Colorado as it relates to DUIs and how that can impact a case.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is simply the time the prosecutor has to bring a case against you when you are accused of breaking the law.
For a DUI charge, the statute of limitations is based on the severity of the charge. For a misdemeanor DUI charge, the prosecutors have 18 months to bring you to court. For a felony DUI, it’s three years. And for a felony DUI that involved the death of another person, it’s five years.
Once a statute of limitations passes, you cannot be prosecuted. However, if you leave Colorado, the statute can be paused for as many as five years.
A misdemeanor DUI in Colorado occurs when someone operates a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.08 percent, whether they were impaired or not.
If you are charged and found guilty of a misdemeanor DUI for the first time, then you can face the following consequences:
- As many as 12 months in prison
- Fines of as much as $1,000
- Suspension of your driver’s license for up to nine months
- Requirement to complete 96 hours of community service
If you are found guilty for the second time of a misdemeanor DU, then the jail time is the same but the fines increase to $1,500. You must complete 120 hours of community service, and you may lose your license for up to one year.
A third or subsequent conviction can result in a suspended license for up to one year. You might also be compelled to install an ignition interlock device for two years in your car after license reinstatement.
A felony DUI is charged if you have three previous DUI charges — or if you were involved in a DUI incident that injured another person seriously.
If you are charged with a fourth DUI, then it’s a Class 4 felony. That is punishable by as much as six years in prison. A DUI that causes serious injury to another is also a Class 4 felony. It can result in up to six years behind bars as well as up to $500,000 in fines.
Finally, if you cause death to another person through your actions with a DUI, then it’s a Class 3 felony. If found guilty, you can face as many as 12 years in prison and fines of as much as $750,000.
A statute of limitations is in place so that you don’t languish in uncertainty forever with the government holding charges over your head. You have rights, so you need to make sure those rights are upheld by understanding the charges and the timing held against you.
This will help you mount the best defense possible in court. It is your right to make sure the government is proceeding in the case against you fairly.
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.