Understanding the penalties for DUI and DWAI in Colorado

Anyone facing a DUI charge in Colorado should be aware of the potential penalties involved.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, there are more than 26,000 drunk driving arrests made every year across the state. While an arrest is not a conviction, it can stay on someone's record and potentially cause issues down the road. Anyone who has been arrested should have a firm grasp on the potential penalties involved.

These consequences are tied to the two types of charges that could be brought: driving under the influence, or DUI, or driving while ability impaired, or DWAI. A DWAI is less serious, as it involves a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.05 and 0.08.

Will I go to jail?

A DWAI offense is typically a misdemeanor that could carry with it as few as two days in jail but as much as 180 days in jail. That range increases if the driver has had prior DUI or DWAI convictions.

When it comes to DUI, associated jail times are as follows:

  • A first offense: between five days and one year in jail
  • A DUI with one previous DWAI or DUI: 10 days to one year in jail
  • A DUI with two previous DWAI or DUI: 60 days to one year in jail
  • A DUI with three or more previous DWAI or DUI: Between two and six years in prison

If an underage driver has a blood alcohol content between 0.02 and 0.05, there could be a sentence of between 10 and 90 days in jail.

Will my license be suspended?

According to the law, someone who has been found to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 will face a nine-month license suspension. For a second such offense, the suspension period is an entire year. A third or subsequent conviction of a DUI in which the driver had a BAC at 0.08 or higher will result in a two-year license suspension. Someone convicted of a DWAI will not face license suspension unless it is a second or subsequent offense.

Colorado law also addresses habitual offenders. Someone who has three DUI or DWAI convictions over a seven-year time frame will lose his or her license for a period of five years.

Will I be fined?

Colorado typically fines drivers convicted of either DUI or DWAI. The fines range from as little as $15 for an underage driver with a BAC between 0.02 and 0.05, to as much as $1,500 for drivers with multiple offenses.

Will I have to do community service?

Public service is often a required part of a DUI sentence. First and minor offenses could result in as little as 24 to 48 hours of service. However, more serious charges or subsequent convictions could mean as much as 120 hours of community service.

Will I have to go to an alcohol treatment program?

There is a chance that a judge could order a defendant to participate in a treatment program. Under these circumstances, it is possible that the judge could suspend part of the jail sentence.

It is evident that Colorado does not take DUI sentencing lightly. Anyone facing such charges should consult with a defense attorney.