If you have been convicted of a DUI, you know firsthand that Colorado takes the offense very seriously and there can be harsh consequences for driving under the influence. So if you are caught driving under the influence again, you know what penalties you will receive and what to expect, right?
Not exactly. Like sentencing guidelines for most crimes, penalties get harsher depending on your criminal history. In Colorado, the penalties for a second DUI are much higher than the penalties for a first DUI offense.
Many states increase penalties only if you have committed a second offense within a certain number of years. This is typically called the “look back period.” Colorado has no look back period. That means that even if you committed your first DUI 20 years ago, the penalties for a second DUI will still apply.
Penalties for a Second DUI Offense
Like the charge for a first DUI offense, a second DUI offense is categorized as a misdemeanor. However, that’s where the similarities stop.
If you are convicted of a second DUI offense, there is a minimum sentence of 10 days in jail, and you may be sentenced to up to one year in jail. In other words, unlike with a first DUI, no matter what other penalties you receive, you will have to do some jail time. Moreover, you cannot be let out early on good behavior during these 10 days.
A judge may also impose fines – according to Colorado guidelines, the fine must be between $1,000 and $5,000. If you thought your first DUI cost a lot of money, think again.
Additionally, your license may be suspended for one year or more – the exact time period will be determined by how recently you were convicted of your first DUI. And if you refused a chemical test and have been previously convicted of a DUI, your license will be suspended for at least 2 years.
There will also be 12 points added to your license. A judge may decide to allow you to drive – but only with an ignition interlock device that requires you to submit to a breathalyzer before starting your car.
Community service is another sentencing option – you may have to complete between 60 and 120 hours of community service to satisfy your sentence.
Alternative Sentencing Options
Although you have the option of a plea bargain for both your first and second DUI offense, it is less likely that a judge will accept a plea bargain for a second offense. If there are mitigating factors present, however, it may still be an option that a judge will accept.
However, being sentenced with the maximum recommended penalties is even more possible for a second offense. You may not have received the maximum sentence for your first DUI because of mitigating factors, like a clean criminal record, but you definitely have one now. And having a criminal past often leads a judge to issue a harsher sentence.
Denver DUI Attorney
The heightened consequences for a second or third DUI offense are important to know even if you have not been convicted of a first DUI, because ideally you want to stop that from happening so you never have to worry about a second conviction.
Bottom line: being convicted of driving under the influence will have a profound effect on your future. Treat every offense and charge seriously. Talk to an experienced Colorado DUI lawyer with a successful track record in these types of cases to start fighting your charges with a solid defense strategy.
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” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2016 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.