Colorado takes a hard stance against drunk drivers. The state imposes severe penalties for DUI convictions, even for drivers without prior offenses. Despite the strict penalties, Colorado still sees many drivers operating vehicles under the influence. In 2019 alone, Colorado law enforcement agencies arrested approximately 19,658 drivers on suspicion of drunk driving.
Just because someone is arrested for drunk driving does not necessarily mean they will receive a conviction. Hiring a Lakewood DUI attorney can offer the possibility of accepting a plea agreement for a lesser charge or getting your charges dismissed entirely. Our Lakewood DUI attorneys at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., carry on a decades-old Colorado tradition of Colorado legal icon Walter L. Gerash by providing a strong voice for individuals facing criminal charges. Contact our office today to discuss your case with one of our DUI lawyers.
DUI Offense in Colorado: An Overview
Colorado law criminalizes operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. “Under the influence” means that the driver either:
- Has a blood-alcohol level (BAC) at or above 0.08%; or
- Has their ability to drive safely substantially impaired by drugs or alcohol.
If you provide a blood or breath sample that comes back below 0.08% but above 0.0%, you can still face charges for driving while ability impaired (DWAI). Although DWAI carries less severe penalties than a normal DUI conviction, it can still hold serious consequences for the defendant.
A drunk driving conviction can make your life harder in ways you might not expect. You could face costlier insurance premiums and have difficulty finding employment opportunities. Contact one of our Lakewood DUI attorneys today to discuss your options following a DUI charge.
Penalties for DUI in Colorado
The penalty for a DUI conviction hinges on several different factors. The primary factor in determining the sentence for a DUI conviction involves your prior drunk driving convictions. For purposes of sentencing, a prior drunk driving conviction includes a conviction for:
- Vehicular assault DUI, and
- Vehicular homicide DUI.
A conviction for any of the crimes listed above will result in an increased sentence for an additional DUI conviction.
In Colorado, a drunk driving conviction stays on your criminal record forever. Colorado does not implement a “lookback period” after which a conviction no longer applies. Any previous conviction from any U.S. state counts as a prior conviction for purposes of criminal sentencing in Colorado.
First DUI Conviction
A first-time DUI conviction in Colorado is considered a misdemeanor offense. This represents the lowest level of DUI penalties. The penalties for a first-time DUI conviction can include:
- Between five days and one year of jail time,
- A fine of up to $1,000,
- License revocation for up to nine months,
- Up to 96 hours of community service, and
- Substance abuse education classes.
Even if you think the prosecution has a strong case, you should consult with a Lakewood DUI attorney before pleading guilty to a DUI charge. Contact our office today for a consultation.
Second DUI Conviction
A second-time DUI conviction in Colorado is also considered a misdemeanor offense. However, the penalties for a second-time DUI conviction can include:
- Between 10 days and one year in jail,
- A fine of up to $1,500,
- License revocation for up to one year,
- At least two years of probation,
- Up to 120 hours of community service,
- Substance abuse education courses, and
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for up to two years.
Additionally, you must pay for these requirements out of your own pocket. That means that you will suffer serious financial implications, in addition to the criminal penalties.
Third DUI Conviction
Colorado considers a third DUI conviction a misdemeanor offense as well. Still, a third conviction carries more severe penalties than a first or second conviction. The penalties for a third-time DUI conviction can include:
- Between sixty days and one year in jail,
- A fine of up to $1,500,
- License revocation for up to two years,
- Up to four years of probation,
- Up to 120 hours of community service, and
- Substance abuse education courses.
The difference between your penalties if you have prior DUI convictions is the amount of time you will spend in jail. If you have questions about what penalty level applies to you, contact one of our criminal defense lawyers today.
Colorado’s expressed consent law means that all motorists who operate a vehicle within the state give implied consent to submit to a blood or breath test in the event they are arrested on suspicion of DUI or DWAI.
If you refuse to submit to the blood/breath test, you can face an additional charge of refusal. Remember, this does not apply to the portable breath test (PBT) the officer may offer you at the scene of the traffic stop. It only applies to the sample collected after your arrest. The breath or blood test is typically collected at either the hospital or the police station. The penalties associated with refusal include:
- Automatic license suspension for one year,
- Designation as a “persistent drunk driver,”
- Mandatory alcohol and drug education and treatment program, and
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for at least one year.
Typically, refusing a breath/blood test is not a good idea. Nevertheless, if you refused to submit to a breath or blood test, one of our Lakewood DUI lawyers may be able to help.
What options do I have if I refused a blood or breath test in Colorado?
If you refuse the test and lose your license, you can apply for reinstatement after two months pass. You can present proof of legal defenses at your reinstatement hearing, such as:
- The officer lacked probable cause to arrest you for DUI or DWAI,
- You were not driving the motor vehicle,
- The officer lacked reasonable suspicion to pull you over,
- The officer failed to read you Colorado’s implied consent law, or
- Your refusal was involuntary.
The last defense may apply if a health condition or injury prevents you from providing the sample. However, you cannot refuse the test because you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs and use your intoxication as a defense.
If you refused to submit to a breath or blood test, contact a Lakewood DUI lawyer at Gerash Steiner and Blanton, P.C., right away to discuss the facts of your case. Our team looks forward to hearing from you.
Need Assistance with a DUI Defense? Contact a Lakewood DUI Attorney Today
We know that a DUI can have long-lasting impacts on a person’s life, and we understand the seriousness of the charge. Our Lakewood DUI attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to represent you aggressively and effectively against the charges lodged against you. Daniel P. Gerash has over 30 years of experience representing criminal defendants in local Colorado communities at the federal, state, and municipal levels. Mr. Gerash holds memberships with the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, just to name a few. With experience as a public defender, Mr. Gerash possesses extensive courtroom experience and is prepared to fight for your rights. Contact Gerash Steiner Blanton today to get started.
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