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Written by: Austin Lux

Penalties for a First-Time DUI in Colorado

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Colorado imposes serious consequences on drivers convicted of driving under the influence. These potential penalties increase in severity if a driver receives multiple DUI convictions. Luckily, a first-time DUI conviction in Colorado carries the potential of the least severe punishment. 

The Colorado Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) published a report analyzing over 26,000 DUI cases filed in Colorado in 2018. The report indicated that Colorado prosecutors convicted the driver of DUI in 88% of the cases. Over one-third of the individuals convicted of DUI already had at least one DUI conviction. 

An experienced DUI defense attorney can vigorously defend your DUI case, aiming to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Attorney Austin M. Lux with the Lux Law Firm possesses extensive knowledge of Colorado’s strict DUI laws. Contact us today for assistance with your DUI.

What Happens if You Get a DUI in Colorado?

Colorado prohibits operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Colorado considers “under the influence” to include when the driver:

  • Has his or her ability to drive safely substantially impaired by drugs or alcohol; or
  • Has a blood-alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. 

First-time DUI convictions carry a variety of consequences, including:

  • Between five days and one year in jail;
  • A fine up to $1,000;
  • License revocation for up to nine months;
  • Up to 96 hours of community service; and
  • Substance abuse education classes. 

Drivers convicted of DUI with a BAC above .15% receive a “persistent drunk driver” classification, resulting in enhanced penalties. 

Unlike some states, Colorado does not have a “lookback period” after which prior drunk driving offenses are removed from your record. Any previous DUI in a U.S. state is considered a prior DUI.

Before accepting a plea agreement, individuals charged with DUI should consult with a DUI defense attorney about options available in their case. Failure to do so could result in the waiver of several constitutional rights.

Colorado’s Express Consent Law

Colorado has an express consent law, meaning that every person driving on Colorado’s roads agrees to submit to a chemical test if a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The refusal to submit to a chemical test carries penalties separate from a DUI charge. The consequences of refusing a chemical test include:

  • The refusal can be used as evidence of guilt at trial;
  • Designation as a “persistent drunk driver”; and
  • Your license will be suspended for one year by the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

In the event your license is suspended for one year, completing alcohol education courses and agreeing to installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for up to two years creates the opportunity to have your license reinstated earlier.

Additional Consequences Associated with a DUI Conviction

In addition to the possibility of jail time and probation, courts enforce additional restrictions on drivers convicted of DUI. Drivers with a DUI conviction often face consequences stemming from their DUI outside of the penalties ordered by the court.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Colorado requires drivers with first-time DUI convictions to install an ignition interlock device in his or her vehicle for at least eight months. An IID is a breathalyzer installed in a vehicle designed to measure the alcohol in the driver’s breath.

The IID prevents the vehicle from starting until a breath test is completed. For individuals who use drive as a part of their job responsibilities, an IID could affect your employment. 

Additionally, IID installation and maintenance is not cheap and the cost is borne by the offender. 

Other Possible Repercussions

A DUI conviction goes on your permanent criminal record and will appear anytime someone runs a background check. In fact, Colorado does not allow traffic convictions to be sealed or expunged. Some employers prohibit employees from having a DUI conviction on their criminal record.

A DUI conviction could result in termination depending on the industry of employment. Insurance companies increase rates for drivers convicted of DUI. Additionally, certain housing applications disqualify applicants with a prior criminal conviction. Between fines, alcohol education classes, and other requirements, monetary obligations negatively impact many drivers convicted of DUI.

How Can a Colorado DUI Attorney Help Me? 

An attorney with experience handling Colorado DUI cases can present arguments to the prosecutor for why your DUI charges should be lessened or dropped. Common defenses to DUI charges include:

  • Inadequately trained police officers;
  • Unreliable chemical test results;
  • Lack of probable cause for the traffic stop;
  • Improperly administered field sobriety tests; and
  • Lack of proper Miranda warning.

Depending on the circumstances of your traffic stop and arrest, a DUI attorney can negotiate with the prosecution to have your case dismissed or your charges reduced. 

Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney with The Lux Law Firm Today

Attorney Austin Lux began his legal career as a Deputy District Attorney, prosecuting dozens of criminal cases and delivering numerous trainings to local law enforcement agencies. Austin made the transition to private practice in order to advocate for his individual clients in the courtroom. 

Austin’s experience as a former prosecutor provides him with inside knowledge of the process of DUI convictions. In 2020, Austin was named a Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney Under 40 in Colorado, an honor awarded to less than 1% of Colorado criminal defense attorneys. Contact our office today for assistance with your DUI case.

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