The vast majority of US states have felony DUI laws that enforce harsh penalties on repeat offenders. In fact, Colorado is one of only five states that currently do not have a felony DUI law in place. That means that regardless of the number of previous DUI convictions you have, the maximum punishment a DUI offender can receive under Colorado law is heavy fines, license suspension, and one year in county jail.
This may be about to change. Recently, a bill was proposed that would make habitual drunk driving into a felony. If enacted, this bill would make a driver’s third DUI a felony if there are aggravating circumstances, such as fleeing the scene or causing harm to another person. Four-time DUI offenders would be convicted of a felony regardless of whether there were aggravating circumstances or not.
Although there is support from both parties in the House and Senate backing the bill, financial concerns could keep it from becoming a law. If many DUI offenders are charged and convicted of felonies, it could end up costing taxpayers millions of dollars. As state representative Daniel Kagan explained to investigators from 7News Denver, “The real big problem is that we have no idea how many people will be charged and convicted of felony DUI under the bill. Certainly if the costs are $13 million or $14 million, which some people are claiming who have looked at this, that’s a serious problem.”
Consequences for a DUI in Colorado Today
While Colorado’s DUI felony laws are still up in the air, today our state already imposes some harsh penalties on DUI offenders.
If you are facing DUI charges in Colorado, you are facing penalties on both the administrative and the criminal level.
Administrative penalties. If it is your first offense, your license may be suspended for nine months. After being charged with a second DUI, you can lose your license for one year. After the third offense, your license may be suspended for two years. If you refuse a chemical test from your arresting officer, your license may be revoked for one year after your first offense, two years after your second, and three years after your third offense.
Criminal penalties. If you are convicted of a DUI, you can be penalized with up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines after your first offense. Second-time offenders face up to one year in jail and up to $1,500 in fines. For a third DUI offense, you can be penalized with up to one year in jail and up to $1,500 in fines.
Even a misdemeanor conviction can result in harsh consequences—jail time and fines are just the beginning. Losing your primary mode of transportation can have a hugely negative impact on both your personal and professional life. A DUI misdemeanor conviction will also leave a stain on your permanent record, making it difficult to find a job, go to college, or join the military.
Of course, the easiest way to avoid these penalties is to avoid driving under the influence entirely. But if you have been charged with a DUI—whether it’s your first, second, or third offense—it’s critical that you seek legal representation.
Consult with a Denver DUI attorney with experience defending individuals charged with driving under the influence. Having a seasoned DUI lawyer on your side can mean the difference between spending time in jail and walking free. Don’t let your mistake take away your freedom and future—contact Colorado criminal lawyer with a track record of success today.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing atThe 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 and 2013 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.