New Enhanced 2013 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 current through the First Regular Session of the 69th General Assembly (Summer 2013).

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. C.R.S. §42-4-1307(2)(a).

For a first conviction 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 may be suspended 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 minimum 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. An experienced DUI defense attorney will argue for the minimum jail to be served on electronic home monitoring, weekends, or work release. Probation shall not exceed a period of two (2) years.

For a first conviction 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.

For a second conviction 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 days 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. 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 availability within the county.

For a third or subsequent conviction, 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 good time credit or trusty prisoner status. Work release is permitted, education release, and medical release, however electronic home monitoring is not. According to the statute, the employment position must be held at the time of sentencing, thus work-seek is not authorized. 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.

Conditions of probation will include alcohol treatment classes a Victim Impact Panel, the possibility of monitored sobriety, an ignition interlock device, and restitution. A person may petition the court for early termination of probation at any time.

If you or a loved one have been charged with an alcohol or drug-related driving offense anywhere in Colorado, get professional help right away and contact Attorney Monte Robbins at his Denver office at 303-355-5148, or his Greeley office at 970-301-5541, or toll-free at 1-888-384-2656 to discuss your options.