The holidays are here. In fact, the holiday season in the United States starts with Halloween and doesn’t end until after New Year – which means two solid months of celebration happening in Colorado and across the country.
Unfortunately, some of these celebrations end in arrests for driving under the influence (DUI). In fact, in the last several years, Halloween has seen an uptick in DUI arrests, with over 200 drivers arrested in 2019.
Thanksgiving arrests for DUIs have only gone up as well. In 2018 alone, 600 Colorado drivers were arrested during the Thanksgiving travel period.
DUIs are seen as a very serious infraction in Colorado and the punishments can be quite severe. Here’s what you need to know about DUIs in Colorado and what you can face if you’re arrested for driving under the influence.
Driving Under the Influence in Colorado
In Colorado, a DUI is defined as having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. However, you can still get charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol level is less under certain circumstances. You can also be charged with a DUI if you refuse to have your blood alcohol level tested or if you show signs of being under the influence or impaired.
Colorado Penalties for Driving Under the Influence
If you are convicted of a DUI, the penalty you face depends on any prior DUI convictions you may have. In general, DUIs in Colorado are misdemeanors. The breakdown of penalties for DUI are:
First DUI Offense
For a first DUI, you can face up to one year in jail and fines up to $1,000. You can also lose your license up for up to nine months and complete up to 96 hours of community service.
If you had a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 percent or higher at the time of the DUI arrest, then you can be labeled a persistent drunk driver in Colorado. That means you can be sentenced as a repeat offender even if it is your first DUI.
Second DUI Offense
Prior DUI convictions will result in harsher penalties in Colorado. For a second offense, you can face up to one year in jail and fines up to $1,500. Your driver’s license can be suspended for up to one year and you may have to complete up to 120 hours of community service as well.
For second and third offenses, mandatory jail time is required.
Third DUI Offense
A third DUI in Colorado can lead to up to one year in jail and fines up to $1,500. You may also have your driver’s license suspended for up to two years and be ordered to complete up to 120 hours of community service.
After having your license reinstated, you may also be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car for up to two years.
Colorado also has administrative penalties associated with DUIs. These include things such as court costs, alcohol educated classes, and counseling that are court-ordered, and 12 points will be placed on your driving record by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
A DUI is considered a Class 4 felony if the violation occurs after three or more convictions. If you are charged with felony DUI, then you can face up to six years in state prison, three years of parole after release, and fines up to $500,000.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.