New 2020 DUI and DWAI Penalties
Every year the legislature enhances the penalties for driving under the influence and driving while ability impaired offenses in Colorado. The actual sentencing statute for alcohol and drug-related offenses is eight (8) pages in length, so the following is simply a summary of the most relevant provisions.
First of all, prior “convictions” for alcohol or drug-related offenses anywhere in the United States are relevant in sentencing in Colorado. Colorado also factors-in “lifetime” offenses in any state, no matter how old the case may be. What is or isn’t a conviction is often times contested by an experienced DUI defense attorney under this new sentencing scheme. Many prosecutors will try to argue that even a successful deferred judgment should be treated as a conviction. According to the statute, a “conviction” means a verdict of guilty by a judge or jury or a plea of guilty or nolo contendere that is accepted by the court for an offense that would constitute a criminal offense if committed by an adult. “Conviction” also includes having received a deferred judgment and sentence or deferred adjudication; except that a person shall not be deemed to have been convicted if the person successfully completed a deferred sentence or deferred adjudication.
For a first offense of DUI, DUI per se, a person shall be punished by a minimum of five (5) days jail, up to one (1) year. The minimum five (5) days is mandatory, however the Court may suspend the 5 days if the person completes an alcohol evaluation and treatment. A fine of $600 up to $1000 dollars will be imposed. It’s important to note that the Court may suspend the fine. Between 48 and 96 hours of community service are mandatory. If the BAC in the case was 0.20 or greater, a minimum of ten (10) days of jail must be served. Thus, it’s important to get an independent analysis of any blood test. The minimum jail may be served jail on electronic home monitoring, weekends, mid weeks, or work release, education release, or straight time. Probation shall not exceed a period of two (2) years.
For a first offense of DWAI, a person shall be sentenced to two (2) days to 180 days in jail. The minimum 2 days can be suspended if the person completes an alcohol evaluation and treatment. The fine ranges from $200 to $500, and the Court has the ability to suspend the entire fine. Twenty four (24) to forty-eight (48) hours of community service are mandatory. A BAC of 0.20 or more with a DWAI conviction will also trigger a mandatory minimum period of jail of 10 days to 1 year as a condition of probation. Probation shall not exceed two (2) years. Work release, in home detention, education release, weekends, and midweeks are all potential methods of serving the jail (depending upon the jurisdiction).
For a second offense of DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, with a prior conviction for DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, aggravated driving with a revoked license, or driving under restraint alcohol/drug-related shall serve 10 consecutive days up to one year in jail with no good time credit or trusty prisoner status for the first 10 days. Work release, work-seek, self-employment release, education release, medical release, in home detention (electronic home monitoring), and day reporting is still available at the Court’s discretion; if the particular jurisdiction authorizes such a program. A fine of $600 to $1000 will be imposed and the Court may suspend the fine. 48 hours to 120 of community service shall be imposed in addition to a suspended jail sentence of 1 year. A period of probation of at least 2 years will be ordered. If this second conviction occurs within 5 years of the prior conviction, electronic home monitoring is not available, however work release, medical release, and education release is available depending upon the county where the case is prosecuted.
For a third or subsequent offense, a person who is convicted of DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI, who at the time of sentencing has two or more convictions for DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, aggravated driving with a revoked license, or driving while the person’s license was under restraint for an alcohol or drug offense shall be punished by a minimum of 60 days to one year in jail, with no eligibility for good time credit or trusty prisoner status. Work release, education release, and medical release are permitted however electronic home monitoring is not for the first 60 days. According to the statute, the employment position must be held at the time of sentencing, thus work-seek is not authorized under the statute. However, this provision seems to be inconsistent amongst the counties with some counties allowing for “work-seek” even with 2 or more prior convictions. A fine of at least $600 to $1500 will be imposed. Suspension of the fine is still possible. 48 to 120 hours of community service. A minimum of two years probation shall be imposed. The Court may also order residential treatment on a 3rd offense and may place a person in a community corrections program for the treatment if at the time of sentencing the person has 2 prior convictions for DWAI, DUI, DUI per se, vehicular homicide, or vehicular assault and the first prior offense occurred less than 7 years before the current violation.
Conditions of probation for all DUI/DWAI/DUI per se offenses typically include alcohol treatment classes, a Victim Impact Panel, monitored sobriety, useful public service hours, and restitution if there are out of pocket expenses associated with the case. A court may also order that a person install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. A person may petition the court for early termination of probation at any time.
A fourth offense may be charged as a felony offense. It's entirely up to the district attorney's office in determining whether or not they are going to charge the fourth offense as a felony. If a person receives probation from a felony DUI, he must serve at least 90 days up to 180 days in the county jail as straight time with no good time credit or trusty prisoner status credit for the first 90 days. Work release and education release may be authorized for felony probation DUI sentences, however the length of jail is increased with a minimum of 120 days up to a maximum of 2 years. No good time credit or trusty prisoner status credit is granted during the first 120 days. 48 up to 120 hours of community service is also ordered.
Sentences to community corrections or the Department of Corrections (prison) are also possibilities for a felony DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI. If a court sentences a person to prison, the court must determine that prison is the best option in light of the facts of the case and the person's willingness to seek treatment. Further, the court will consider whether all reasonable and appropriate sanctions have been exhausted, are not likely to prove successful, or put the community at too great of a risk.
If you've been charged with an alcohol or drug-related driving offense anywhere in Colorado, get professional help right away and contact Denver DUI Lawyer Monte Robbins today at 303-355-5148 or 970-301-5541 to discuss your case.