Is DUI A Felony In Colorado? How Long Do You Go to Jail for DUI?

Is DUI A Felony In Colorado? How Long Do You Go to Jail for DUI?

If you or a loved one have been arrested for a DUI in Colorado, you may be wondering what penalties you’ll face and how you’ll be charged. Colorado has strict DUI laws, and it’s important to understand what you may be up against if you are charged with this offense. Is DUI a felony in Colorado, or is this crime considered a misdemeanor?

Is DUI A Felony in Colorado?

In Colorado, DUIs are typically filed as misdemeanors. But in some circumstances, a DUI may be filed as a felony.

A DUI is considered a felony offense if:

  • It’s your 4th or more DUI offense
  • You caused an accident that killed or injured another person while under the influence of alcohol or drugs

A 4th Offense

If you’ve had three prior DUI-related convictions, your fourth DUI offense will be filed as a class 4 felony even if:

  • There were no accidents, injuries or deaths
  • The three prior convictions occurred years ago
  • The prior convictions happened in another state
  • The prior convictions were deferred sentences that were eventually dismissed

Any type of drunk-driving-related conviction will qualify as a prior offense. This includes DWAI, DUI per se, vehicular homicide or vehicular assault.

Bodily Injury

A DUI is classified as a class 4 felony if your impaired driving causes serious bodily injuries. The offense is considered a felony even if you don’t have any prior convictions. Serious bodily injury can include:

  • Paralysis
  • Loss of limbs
  • Disfigurement
  • Serious burns
  • Head or spine injuries

Minor cuts and bruises would likely not qualify as serious bodily injuries.

When a DUI causes injury, it is known as vehicular assault.


A DUI is considered a class 3 felony if your impaired driving kills another person. Even if you have no prior convictions, the offense will be considered a felony.

When a DUI causes death, it is known as vehicular homicide.

How Long Do You Go to Jail for DUI?

Every day, nearly 60 people are arrested for impaired driving, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. These people face harsh penalties, even if it’s their first offense.

“In 2019 we filed 169 felony DUI cases alone, that’s up from 113 the year before. So it’s on the increase as far as the number of cases we’re finding that are felony DUI drivers, it is a problem, it seems to be a growing problem,” said Senior Deputy DA Michael Allen.

The state continues to crack down on DUI offenses, and defendants face potentially life-changing consequences if convicted.

The penalties for a DUI in Colorado include:

1st Offense

  • 5 days to 1 year in jail (DUI and DUI per se); 2 days to 180 days (DWAI)
  • $600-$1,000 fine (DUI and DUI per se); $200-$500 (DWAI)
  • 9-month license suspension for DUI and DUI per se
  • Ignition interlock device for 8 months
  • 48-96 hours community service for DUI and DUI per se; 24-48 hours public service for DWAI

2nd Offense

  • 10 days to 1 year in jail
  • $600-$1,500 fine
  • 1-year license suspension if the second conviction is within 5 years of the first
  • Ignition interlock device for 2-5 years
  • 48-120 hours of community service

3rd Offense

  • 60 days to 1 year in jail
  • $600-$1,500 fine
  • Indefinite license suspension (can apply for reinstatement after 2 years)
  • Ignition interlock device for 2-5 years
  • 48-120 hours of community service

4th Offense – Class 4 Felony

  • 2-6 years in Colorado State Prison with a 3-year parole period
  • $2,000-$500,000 in fine

If probation is granted, the sentence must include:

  • 90-180 days in jail, or up to 2 years in jail through an alternative sentencing program
  • 48-120 hours of public service
  • Attending alcohol and drug education class

DUI Causing Injury – Class 4 Felony

  • 2-6 years in Colorado State Prison with a 3-year parole period
  • $2,000-$5,000 in fines

DUI Causing Death – Class 3 Felony

  • 4-12 years in prison with a 5-year parole period
  • $3,000-$750,000 in fines

Other Consequences of a DUI

Fines and jail time are just two of the consequences you’ll face with a DUI conviction. You could also:

  • Lose your job
  • Lose your ability to seek future employment in your field
  • Lose your ability to vote and own a firearm (if your offense is a felony)
  • Have difficulty reinstating your license
  • Face sky-high car insurance rates
  • Damage personal and professional relationships

Get Help with a Felony DUI in Colorado

If you or a loved one have been arrested for DUI, you need an experienced DUI lawyer with a track record of success. DUIs have serious consequences that could potentially change your life and financial future.

There are several ways we can fight a DUI charge. We can argue that:

    • The blood or breath test equipment was handled improperly or not working properly;
    • The police did not have probable cause to suspect DUI;
    • The defendant’s medical condition increased blood alcohol content results;
    • Officers did not administer field sobriety tests properly

Don’t try to fight your DUI on your own.

Contact a local DUI attorney for specific questions regarding your case.

Author Bio

alexis austin

Alexis Austin is the CEO and Managing Partner of Right Law Group, a criminal defense law firm she founded in 2018, with convenient locations in Colorado Springs, Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch. With almost a decade of experience in criminal defense, she has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, misdemeanors, felonies, domestic violence, and other criminal charges.

Alexis received her Juris Doctor from the University of Denver — Sturm College of Law and is a member of the Colorado Bar Association. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named among the “Top 40 Under 40” in 2018 by The National Trial Lawyers and featured in Authority Magazine’s “Top Lawyers” series.

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