Denver DUI Attorney

Colorado DUI Penalties for Drivers With Prior Convictions

Commencing for violations taking place after July 1, 2010 the criminal sentencing law for individuals convicted in the Denver metropolitan area, and all other areas of Colorado, of alcohol and substance related traffic offenses including Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) was substantially changed. The greatest impact of such change in Colorado traffic law will be for those who have had prior alcohol, drug or other serious traffic related convictions.

For those who have had prior convictions for alcohol or substance related driving offenses, or other serious traffic offenses described in the Colorado statute, the criminal penalties have been enhanced. Denver traffic attorneys, and Colorado traffic lawyers generally, understand that, although the applicable penalties imposed by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in regard to driver licensing have not been altered by this law, there is now a substantially greater likelihood of jail time being imposed by a Colorado Criminal Court as part of the myriad penalties. Some of these penalties must, and some may be, imposed by a Colorado judge upon a criminal conviction of an individual for DUI or DWAI. 

PENALTIES FOR DUI AND DWAI OFFENSES WITH A PRIOR CONVICTION

Many individuals, including some Colorado criminal attorneys, and Colorado traffic lawyers, may not understand exactly how broad the criteria is under Colorado statutes for defining what constitutes a prior conviction for purposes of DUI and DWAI sentencing. A previous conviction for DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, habitual user, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, aggravated driving with a revoked license, or for most convictions in which that person drove while their license was under restraint, constitutes a prior convictions for the purpose of DUI and DWAI sentencing in Colorado. The criteria mandates the inclusion of all Colorado convictions and, in addition, any equivalent prior convictions in any other state or within any territory or area under the jurisdiction of the United States.

If an individual has a previous conviction there is no difference in criminal sentencing, applicable under the Colorado statute, for those who may be convicted of DUI or DWAI. However, the applicable Colorado traffic law statute mandates somewhat different criminal penalties for those convicted of DUI or DWAI subsequent to one applicable preceding conviction, and for those convicted of DUI or DWAI subsequent to two or more applicable preceding convictions.

For those convicted of either Driving Under The Influence (DUI), or Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), subsequent to one preceding applicable conviction, the court is generally required to impose a sentence to jail of at least ten (10) consecutive days but no more than one year. The individual is not eligible for a suspension of that mandated jail time by virtue of the individual undergoing any alcohol and drug safety program, as the individual may be if it were a first offense. Further, the individual is not eligible for earned time or good time, as further described in Colorado statutes, nor is the individual eligible for trusty prisoner status. However, the individual is entitled to receive credit for any time served in custody for the subject violation prior to his or her conviction.

Denver traffic lawyers, and Colorado traffic attorneys generally, understand that for those convicted of either DUI, or DWAI, subsequent to one preceding applicable conviction, in addition to the sentence to jail, the court is required to impose a fine of at least six hundred dollars but no more than one thousand five hundred dollars in addition to applicable costs and surcharges. A Colorado judge is also required to sentence such an individual to at least forty-eight hours, but no more than one hundred twenty hours, of useful public service. The court cannot suspend the mandatory minimum period of performance of such useful public service.

For individuals convicted in the Denver metropolitan area, or in any other areas of Colorado, of either DUI or DWAI, subsequent to one preceding applicable conviction, Colorado traffic law provides that a Colorado court is required to sentence that individual to probation of at least two years and a suspended sentence of imprisonment in the county jail for one year. In the event the suspended sentence is imposed at some later point in time the individual is not permitted credit for any previous sentence that had been served.

Upon being sentenced to probation the court is required to sentence the individual to complete a Level II alcohol and drug driver safety education or treatment program at the individual’s own expense. The court may also require an individual to use an approved ignition interlock device during the period of probation, at that person’s own expense. As further conditions of probation the court may also require the person to submit to continuous alcohol monitoring, require the person to attend and pay for attendance at a victim impact panel, pay restitution to any victims, and any to meet any further probation conditions the court deems proper as may be permitted by law.

If an individual has had only one preceding applicable conviction, and the applicable date that of the violation that gave rise to that conviction occurred five years or more from the violation date of the DUI or DWAI for which an individual is before a Colorado court, the individual may be eligible to many of the sentencing alternatives set forth in C.R.S. 18-1.3-106. This provides, upon permission of the judge, for an individual to be eligible for release from the jail during reasonable and necessary hours for the purpose of working at his or her employment or for certain other activities set forth in the statute. These provisions also include the possibility of home detention or day reporting in the event the judge deems such appropriate.

If an individual has had only one preceding applicable conviction, and the applicable date that of the violation that gave rise to that conviction occurred less than five years from the violation date of the DUI or DWAI for which an individual is before a Colorado court, the individual is eligible for only certain of the sentencing alternatives set forth in C.R.S. 18-1.3-106. These are limited to, upon permission of the judge, release from the jail during reasonable and necessary hours for the purpose of working at his or her employment which was in existence at the time of sentencing, continuing education at an institution where the person was enrolled at the time of sentencing, or for participation in court ordered education and treatment programs.  There is no possibility under the law of home detention or day reporting.

Probation can be extended, in the discretion of the Judge, for a maximum of an additional two years beyond the initial period. However, an individual has a right to petition the Court at any time for an early termination of the period of probation, which the court may grant upon making certain applicable findings of fact.

A conviction for DWAI also entails the conviction being placed on the individual’s Colorado Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) maintained by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles with the associated eight (8) points. A conviction for DWAI also entails the conviction being placed on the individuals Colorado Motor Vehicle Record with the associated twelve (12) points. The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles will often impose additional penalties, related to the individual’s privilege to drive a vehicle, subsequent to a person being charged with DUI or DWAI.

PENALTIES FOR DUI AND DWAI OFFENSES WITH MORE THAN ONE PRIOR CONVICTION

Denver traffic lawyers, and Colorado traffic lawyers generally, are aware that if an individual pleads guilty, or is found guilty, in the Denver metropolitan area, or in any other area of Colorado, to DWAI or DUI, and the individual has two or more previous convictions, as that term is broadly defined by the Colorado statute, the penalties under Colorado traffic law are more extensive.

For those convicted of either the alcohol or drug related driving offenses of Driving Under The Influence (DUI), or Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), subsequent to more than one preceding applicable traffic related criminal convictions, the court is generally required under Colorado traffic law to impose a sentence to jail of at least sixty (60) consecutive days but no more than one year. During the mandatory sixty (60) day period the individual is not eligible for earned time or good time, as further described in Colorado statutes, nor is the individual eligible for trusty prisoner status. However, the individual is entitled to receive credit for any time served in custody for the subject violation prior to his or her conviction.

An individual sentenced in Colorado upon a determination of guilt to a DWAI or DUI, with two or more previous applicable convictions, is eligible for only certain of the sentencing alternatives set forth in C.R.S. § 18-1.3-106. These are limited to, upon permission of the judge, release from the jail during reasonable and necessary hours for the purpose of working at his or her employment which employment was in existence at the time of sentencing, continuing education at an institution where the person was enrolled at the time of sentencing, or for participation in specifically court ordered education and treatment programs. There is no possibility under the law of home detention or day reporting in such circumstances.

For those convicted of either DUI, or DWAI, subsequent to two or more preceding applicable convictions, in addition to the sentence to jail, the court is required to impose a fine of at least six hundred dollars but no more than one thousand five hundred dollars in addition to applicable costs and surcharges. A Colorado judge is also required to sentence such an individual to at least forty-eight hours, but no more than one hundred twenty hours, of useful public service. The court cannot suspend the mandatory minimum period of performance of such useful public service.

A conviction for DWAI also entails the conviction being placed on the individual’s Colorado Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) maintained by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with the associated eight (8) points. A conviction for DWAI also entails the conviction being placed on the individual’s Colorado Motor Vehicle Record with the associated twelve (12) points. The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will most often impose additional penalties, related to the individual’s privilege to drive a vehicle, subsequent to a person being charged with DUI or DWAI.

Other penalties imposed upon such a determination of guilt, including the probation conditions, for those convicted in the Denver metropolitan area, or other regions of Colorado, of either Driving Under The Influence (DUI), or Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), subsequent to two or more preceding applicable convictions, correspond to those for an individual found guilty of DWAI or DUI who has one previous conviction.

Denver criminal defense attorneys, and Colorado criminal lawyers generally, are well aware that the Colorado traffic laws applicable to alcohol and drug related driving violations are complex and multi-faceted. However, individuals have a multitude of rights in defending against DUI and DWAI charges brought against them in Colorado. Individuals who are charged with such a violation in Colorado are well-advised to seek competent legal counsel to represent them. Ross Koplin represents individuals in all Colorado traffic matters within the Colorado counties of Jefferson, Arapahoe, El Paso, Douglas, Adams, Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek, Weld, Larimer and Elbert, in addition to the City and County of Denver.

Legal Disclaimer - The information contained at this web site is not intended to be legal advice and all information regarding Colorado criminal law is general content only and should not be relied upon for any specific Colorado criminal law situation. Information on this web site is not intended to be comprehensive and does not cover all the issues, nuances or ramifications related to the topic discussed. This web site may not be updated routinely to reflect the very most current Colorado law.  

Individuals should consult an experienced Colorado criminal lawyer for advice regarding an individual situation.