If you find yourself in the unpleasant position of facing DUI charges, you are not alone. In 2019, there were over 8,500 DUI arrests with DUI-related accidents resulting in dozens of fatalities. If you are among the thousands of people charged with DUI, it is natural to have a lot of questions. You may wonder, “Is DUI a felony in Colorado?” or, “What will happen to me if I am arrested?”. Most importantly, you may ask yourself, “What can I do to lessen my penalties?” Below are the answers to these questions along with the single best step you can take to minimize your DUI penalties.
Is DUI a felony in Colorado?
“Driving under the influence is a misdemeanor, but it is a class 4 felony if the violation occurred after three or more prior convictions, arising out of separate and distinct criminal episodes, for DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI; vehicular homicide, as described in section 18-3-106(1)(b), C.R.S .; vehicular assault, as described in section 18-3-205(1)(b), C.R.S .; or any combination thereof.” – Colorado Revised Statutes Title 42. Vehicles and Traffic § 42-4-1301.
In most cases, DUI is categorized as a misdemeanor. However, if you already have three separate prior convictions, then DUI is a class 4 felony. Any DUI offenses that occur afterward would also be considered felonies.
What happens during a DUI arrest in Colorado?
- A law enforcement official will ask to see your license and insurance. They may also ask you a few questions.
- You will be asked to take a breathalyzer test to detect the presence of alcohol in your body.
- The officer will likely ask you to take a short field sobriety test to determine whether you might be intoxicated.
Depending on the results of your breathalyzer and field sobriety test, you might be taken into custody and asked to complete additional testing at the police station. Do your best to continue to politely comply with testing, as any refusal to take a test could be viewed as an admission that you are intoxicated.
What are the penalties for DUI in Colorado?
“There are both criminal penalties (fines, imprisonment, and required public service) and administrative penalties for drunk driving. Courts impose criminal penalties, and the Colorado Department of Revenue (the Department) imposes the administrative penalties. ” – Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services
The penalties for DUI have gradually increased in severity over the past decade. Penalties may include a combination of community service, financial penalties, jail time, and suspension of your license. You may also be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle. This device will prevent you from starting your car until the integrated breathalyzer indicates that you are not under the influence of alcohol.
In general, the severity of the penalties imposed increases with each subsequent DUI conviction. Additionally, penalties are often steeper for drivers who have a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 or greater. So if you are facing your first DUI and had a blood-alcohol level of .09, you might be able to get by with a modest fine of several hundred dollars, community service, and a few days in jail. But if you are facing your third conviction, you can expect steeper fines, more time in jail, and many months without your license.
What can you do to minimize DUI penalties?
You may wonder if you will be treated with any leniency, especially if you are facing your first DUI offense. The truth is that there are several things you can do to help minimize your DUI penalties. Here are a few simple steps you can take to minimize penalties:
- Be compliant and polite. This means responding to officer requests such as field testing or requests for your license or insurance.
- Avoid future offenses. You can eliminate any future penalties by monitoring your behavior. Do not drink and drive.
- Seek early removal of your interlock device. If you are required to install an ignition interlock device, a lawyer can help you expedite its removal.
Is DUI a Felony in Colorado? The single best step you can take to minimize DUI penalties is to contact a DUI lawyer in Colorado right away. Acting fast is important, as you only have seven days in Colorado to request a DUI hearing. With an experienced DUI lawyer on your side, you can rest assured knowing that a skilled legal professional will lobby for your rights and freedom from driving restrictions. We look forward to working with you to receive a favorable outcome in your case!