What does DUI jail time look like? How much jail time do you get for a DUI in Colorado? These are always the first questions a lawyer will hear.
Here’s the short answer: If this is your first DUI, you can be sentenced anywhere from five days to one year in jail.
DUI charges in Colorado should be taken seriously. If you’re over 21, and this is your first time getting arrested for DUI, expect some severe repercussions like fines, license suspension, and possibly jail time. If you’ve been arrested for DUI more than once, the penalties get more severe every time.
Beyond the headaches you’ll experience surrounding your driver’s license, first time DUI offenders can expect:
- auto insurance rates to increase
- to carry an additional agreement with an auto insurer, known as an SR-22
- to complete a minimum of 48 hours of community service
But will you go to jail for a DUI?
That’s the golden question. We’ll explore the answers here. As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you need legal help with your DUI charges. Our staff is well versed in DUI defense. We’re ready to help.
Colorado’s DUI Penalties – Jail Time for First Time Offenders?
In Colorado, your first DUI conviction is a traffic misdemeanor. Assuming you didn’t injure anyone, lead the police on an exciting chase, or get arrested for any major crimes when you were pulled over:
- You may face jail time, or you may not.
- A judge may order you to spend anywhere from five days to a year in jail unless you complete an education program and/or therapy program.
A first time DUI offender probably won’t serve time in jail if they:
- follow the judge’s orders to the letter
- complete their required programs
- pay the fines
- and finishes any community service work
However, some DUI cases are more extreme. We call these “Extreme DUIs” or “Aggravated DUIs.”
Aggravated DUI charges are more serious.
- Having a very high Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .15% or more may lead to Aggravated DUI charges.
- Being arrested for drunk driving with minors in the vehicle may lead to increased charges.
Regardless of the type of DUI charge, your best chance at avoiding harsh penalties is to speak with an attorney who specializes in DUI defense. He or she will know how to challenge the charges. They’ll guide you through the process and help you build a strong defense.
If this is not your first DUI, know that penalties will be much more severe from here on!
Jail Time for Repeat DUI Offenders in Colorado
Second and third convictions for DUI, DUI per se, and DWAI are generally misdemeanors (more on those in a moment.) Colorado DOES consider DUI convictions from other states when sentencing. In other words, if you were convicted of a DUI in California eight years ago, and you are charged with your first DUI in Colorado today, you will be treated as a second-time offender.
Second and third-time offenders will serve jail time.
- Second-time offenders will be sentenced to a minimum of ten days in jail, up to one year.
- Third-time offenders can expect a minimum of 60 days in jail.
If this is your fourth DUI or higher, you’ll be charged with a felony DUI.
- As it currently stands (in January 2020) drivers convicted of a felony DUI face 90 to 180 days in jail if the judge offers probation.
- Folks who are eligible for a work-release program face 120 days to two years behind bars.
Felony charges are always more serious than misdemeanor charges.
In addition to longer jail time, convicted felons experience other challenges. Once you’ve got a felony on your record, it can be difficult to find employment or housing.
- Colorado is an “employment-at-will” state. Employers can release an employee without notice or reason. There are a few exceptions (such as racial discrimination or breach of contract), but a felony DUI conviction opens the door for termination.
In our modern tech-savvy world, your felony history will follow you if you move out of state. Know that some states will have an opinion about your rights as a felon in regards to owning a gun, carrying a weapon, or voting.
If this is your fourth DUI charge, you should seek professional legal assistance! There is a tremendous difference between misdemeanor charges and felony charges that will follow you for the rest of your life!
DUI / DUI per se / DWAI in Colorado: Understanding the Differences
Here in the Centennial State, driving under the influence charges have three categories:
- DUI – Driving Under The Influence – this can be a combination of alcohol, drugs and even medications
- DUI per se – intoxication is entirely due to alcohol
- DWAI – Driving While Abilities Impaired – this is usually considered a less serious offense unless you have prior convictions
DUI charges are based mostly on Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).
- A BAC of .08% is enough to convict most drivers of a DUI.
- Professional drivers who maintain commercial driver licenses (CDLs) are subject to a lower, national standard of .04% BAC.
- Underage drivers are subject to a “Zero Tolerance” limit of .02 – .05%.
Ultimately, the choice to drink and drive is never a good one. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI in Colorado, contact us. Whether it’s your first offense or your fifth, we’re ready to defend you.