| Read Time: 5 minutes | DUI
what happens when you get a DUI in Colorado

Nationwide, over 10,000 people die in DUI accidents every year. It is this high death rate, plus lobbying efforts by organizations such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), that has resulted in a steady increase in DUI penalties nationwide.

Consequently, DUI charges in Colorado are no laughing matter. Here is what will happen if you are charged with a Colorado DUI.

Dan and Dianne were extremely helpful throughout the whole process, as a 22year old who had never dealt with anything in the legal realm, they were super patient and knowledgeable. I would definitely recommend them.
Chase Leslie
Chase Leslie
I had a pleasant experience with Dan Gerash, Dianne, and the rest of the team at Gerash Steiner Blanton. Dan was attentive, responsive, friendly, clearly fought for me, and was very honest with realistic expectations but also was strong in his conviction to defend me. They walked me through each step of the way and was always there to speak with in case I had a question or a concern. I would recommend him and team, do not hesitate to call them if you need their services!
Derrick Powers
Derrick Powers
One of the best experiences I could have had during one of the toughest times of my life. In 2019 I had received a DUI and without the help of Dan Gerash, i don't believe i would have gotten through it. From start to finish he was professional, friendly, and the communication was top notch. Any questions i had Dan and his assistant Dianne were there with an answer. If they didn't have the answer right away they always knew who to contact and got back to me in a timely manner. Even after my sentencing, Dan was there to assist me with DMV/license questions. I found myself asking Dan and Dianne more questions then I would ask my Probation Officer. They just were so easy to communicate with. Two years after my sentencing when i had my final court appearance to come off probation, Dan was right there to assist me. He goes the extra mile for his clients. I high recommend him for any legal troubles you may have.
Kurt Pedersen
Kurt Pedersen
My attorney was Dan Gerash and he was awesome to work with. His team explained everything to me long the way and I felt at ease during the process. My case was out of state and he fought for me in such a way that I could continue life, from home, uninterrupted through till the end of the case. Highly recommended
Atria Warren
Atria Warren
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Cindy Montez
Cindy Montez
Excellent team, knowledgeable and dedicated. I definitely would recommend them. Dan is open, honest and was readily available.
Vance Kelso
Vance Kelso
Dan worked with the DA and my life is back on track again. What was just a stupid mistake could've really been devastating but he worked hard for me and I'm grateful for the new opportunity I have.
Brian LaRose
Brian LaRose
Dan is an excellent attorney. He helped us navigate a complex legal system with compassion and integrity. I highly recommend him and his team.
Deanna Hunt
Deanna Hunt
Dan and Dianne were great. My case was in Summit County, Colorado and I live in Houston, TX. They took care of everything and kept me up to date constantly. I could reach them at anytime and both were always available to take my phone calls. I’m glad they were able to take care of everything without me having to fly out there.
M. J.
M. J.
Amazing representation from an outstanding law firm. Dan took the time to get to know me on a personal level and was able to help me obtain a fair deal in settling my case. Dianne is his administration representative and keeps everything in proper order and works with you every step of the process. Made a bad situation as bearable as it could be. Very thankful I found Gerash Steiner. Craig Neal
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What Happens When You Get a DUI in Colorado – Procedural Anatomy

You can expect to go through the following steps after getting a DUI in Colorado:

  1. Traffic Stop
  2. Arresting, Testing, and Detention
  3. The Express Consent Hearing
  4. Your Arraignment
  5. Plea Bargaining
  6. Trial

Let’s take a look a deeper look at what happens after you get a Colorado DUI charge, from arrest to trial and sentencing.

The Traffic Stop

Normally, an officer is allowed to pull you over based on a “reasonable suspicion” that you are breaking the law. One exception to this rule is the DUI checkpoint, which is legal in Colorado as long as the police follow certain rules. The officer will probably ask you to perform “field sobriety tests” (walking a straight line, etc.) to determine if there is probable cause to arrest you. 

Arrest, Testing, and Detention

If the officer believes there is probable cause to arrest you, they will place you under arrest and probably take you to the police station or the hospital for a chemical test. Once you are presented with a test, there are three possibilities.

  1. You can take a breath test.
  2. You can take a blood test (typically used if the officer suspects that you are high on drugs).
  3. You might decide to refuse to take either test.

If you refuse to take a test, the officer will confiscate your driver’s license, charge you with DUI, and cite you for violation of the Colorado express consent law. If you take one of the above-listed tests and the test reveals an illegal level of intoxication, the officer will confiscate your driver’s license and charge you with DUI or DWAI. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that warrants an automatic DUI is .08% or above, whereas the level for DWAI is between .05% and .08%.

The officer will then take you to detox (the “drunk tank”) until you sober up or until they can release you to a sober party. You might be released “on your own recognizance” (with no need to post bail), or you might need to post bail to get out of detention.

The Express Consent Hearing

If you refuse to take a test, you could lose your license for up to nine months for a first offense—even if you are acquitted of the DUI. This suspension is automatic. You can dispute it if you demand an “express consent” hearing with the Colorado DMV within seven days of your arrest.

Your hearing will take place within 60 days of your request. Bringing an attorney with you could greatly increase your chances of successfully disputing the suspension of your license.

Your Arraignment

You will receive a summons for your arraignment while you are under arrest. An arraignment is an initial hearing at which the court formally informs you of your DUI charge and advises you of the possible penalties. If you plead guilty at this stage, the court will sentence you, and your case will be over.

However, just because your criminal case is closed does not mean you’re off the hook. You likely have a year of probation and other consequences to contend with after the close of your case. So don’t be in too big of a hurry. It’s better to get a good lawyer to protect your interests before entering any type of plea.

You are entitled to bring an attorney with you to your arraignment, and it’s best if your attorney is with you. But even if you haven’t hired a lawyer at this early stage in the process, you must show up to court yourself if necessary. If you miss your hearing date, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest on yet another chargeーfailure to appear. 

Plea Bargaining

In a plea bargain, your defense attorney will use whatever leverage your case supplies to negotiate with the prosecution and get you a “good deal.” This means that you would agree to a lighter sentence in exchange for not making the State take your case to trial.

Alternatively, if you have a decent defense but would still like to avoid the risk of trial, your attorney may be able to get the State to drop the top charge and agree to let you plead to a lesser charge. For DUIs, this might mean pleading out to a reckless driving charge instead of a DUI.

Plea bargaining is not always appropriate, but in many cases, it might be your best option. 


If there is no plea bargain, you will proceed to the trial stage. Your attorney might seek to exclude some of the evidence against you at a pretrial suppression hearing. At trial, you can call witnesses, cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses, and present arguments.

Typically, defendants opt for a jury trial, but you can request a bench trial where the judge decides whether you are guilty or not guilty. If the judge or jury finds you guilty, the judge will sentence you. If the judge or jury finds you not guilty, you have been acquitted of all charges and will not suffer any penalties.

Possible DUI Penalties in Colorado

Following is a listing of possible penalties you might face. These penalties can increase if special circumstances apply, such as causing an accident that resulted in injuries.

Suspension of Your Driver’s License

The Colorado DMV can suspend your license even if the state never convicts you of DUI. 

Fines and Court Costs

You could pay up to a $1,000 fine, plus court costs, for a first offense. For subsequent offenses, the fine could be even more.

Jail Time

Many first offenders manage to avoid jail time if they retain an effective Colorado DUI charges lawyer to defend them. Up to a year of jail time is a real possibility, even for a first offense. Multiple offenses increasingly guarantee jail time, and the sentence gets longer with each offense.


Probation can be supervised or unsupervised. It can replace jail time or supplement it.

Substance Abuse Evaluation

You must submit to an alcohol or drug abuse evaluation, depending on the facts surrounding your case. The evaluator can compel you to attend substance abuse classes and submit to therapy.

Substance Abuse Classes

Depending on the results of your evaluation, you may have to take substance abuse classes at your own expense. In some cases, these classes can take months to complete.


You might have to attend therapy and rehab sessions at your own expense.

Insurance Penalties

Your insurance rates could rise, and your insurance carrier could drop you altogether. In addition, Colorado might demand that you obtain SR-22 insurance before it reinstates your license.

A Permanent Criminal Record

A permanent criminal record will follow you for the rest of your life. It can affect your ability to get a job, sign a lease, get a loan, etc. 

Need Help Knowing What to do After Getting a DUI in Colorado

If you get arrested for DUI, you should retain a skilled and experienced Colorado criminal charges lawyer as soon as you possibly can. The experienced lawyers at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., know how to fight back against the Colorado criminal justice system. 

We have successfully represented hundreds of DUI defendants, and our lawyers have accumulated rich trial experience. For an initial consultation, call us or contact us online.

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At Gerash Steiner Blanton P.C., we pride ourselves on providing exceptional legal services to every one of our clients. Our team of experienced attorneys is dedicated to representing individuals and businesses in a wide range of legal matters. We understand that every case is unique and will always provide personalized solutions to meet your immediate legal needs.

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