Penalties for DUIs and DWAIs in Colorado

Simply being arrested for suspected drunk driving in Colorado can get a person’s driving privileges taken away, even if the driver is not ultimately convicted.

DUI cases have captured society's attention over the years as advocacy groups have raised awareness about the dangers associated with driving after consuming alcohol or drugs. While these efforts are understandable it is also important to balance the realities of life with the need to keep people safe.

Driving a car or other vehicle after having a casual drink or two with friends or family is something that is very commonly done. "Drunk drivers" are not necessarily the irresponsible, negligent people that the media makes them out to be. Despite that, the penalties for a DUI arrest are harsh and can seriously impact a person's life.

Can I lose the right to drive?

Loss of driving privileges is one of the hallmarks of a DUI or DWAI conviction. In fact, drivers can face license suspensions simply for being charged with a DUI. These suspensions can range from 9 months to 5 years depending on whether or not drivers have had any prior offenses.

Will I get points on my record?

No points will be added to drivers' records for arrests. Convictions for DWAI offenses will add eight points to drivers' records while convictions for DUI offenses will add 12 points to drivers' records. An automatic license suspension is ordered upon a driver receiving 12 points on their record.

Will I spend time in jail?

Drivers convicted of even first time DWAI and DUI offenses will face mandatory minimum jail times. These jail sentences may be suspended in exchange for participation in substance treatment programs; however, if one's BAC is above .20 jail is mandatory. Jail is also mandatory on 2 nd and 3 rd offense DWAI and DUI offenses. A conviction for a 4 th offense DWAI or DUI is a class 4 felony and carries a possible penalty of 2 to 6 years in prison.

How much does a DUI or DWAI arrest or conviction cost?

The exact costs associated with a DUI case will vary based upon the circumstances. Costs include but are not limited to vehicle storage and towing, jail and court fees, detoxification facility fees, probation supervision fees, driver license reinstatement fees, insurance premium increases, community service fees, mandatory alcohol treatment, and installation of an ignition interlock device in one's vehicle.

What else should drivers know after a DUI or DWAI arrest?

With an estimated 30,000 people arrested for some form of drunk driving in Colorado each year, no motorist is truly safe from these charges and the charges are not limited to alcohol. Impairment from marijuana and prescription drugs can be involved in these cases. Getting help from an attorney promptly is always important because every situation is unique. In fact, what happens within the first seven days after your arrest can have a dramatic impact on your driving privileges. Speaking to an experienced professional can help defendants understand the nuances of the laws as it applies to their circumstances and save them time, money, their driver's license, and time spent away from their family.