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Penalties for DUI in Colorado

According to C.R.S. 42-4-1307: If convicted of driving under the influence [“DUI”] or driving while ability impaired [“DWAI”] in Colorado, an individual will be sentenced to a period of imprisonment, a period of probation, a fine, and public service. In addition, the individual is required to immediately surrender their license upon conviction. The period of imprisonment will range from a minimum of 2 days to 1 year imprisonment. However, if an individual has previously been convicted of a DUI or DWAI the period of imprisonment could range from a minimum of 60 days to a year. After a DUI/DWAI conviction the minimum period of probation will range from nothing to 2 years dependent upon an individual’s past DUI/DWAI record. And finally, a fine ranging from $200 to $1,500 will be imposed in addition to 48 to 120 hours of public service. Although the specific details of an individual’s conviction cannot be known, a range can be determined based upon DUI/DWAI conviction history, blood alcohol content [“BAC”], and other factors the judge may find relevant such as character, remorse, and ties to the community.

Every conviction of DUI/DWAI carries with it a period of imprisonment, a period of probation, fines and public service; however the most lenient sentence will emanate from an individual’s first offence.

If convicted of DUI, an individual will serve 5 days to 1 year in prison if his BAC was below 0.20, but if his BAC was 0.20 or more at the time of testing, he will serve 10 days to 1 year in prison. In addition to the mandatory term of imprisonment, upon release the individual will be subject to up to 2 years of probation, a fine in the range of $600 to $1000, and public service in the range of 48 to 96 hours.

If convicted of DWAI, an individual will serve 2 days to 180 days in prison if his BAC was below 0.20, but if his BAC was 0.20 or more at the time of testing, he will serve 10 days to 1 year in prison. In addition to the mandatory term of imprisonment, upon release the individual will be subject to up to 2 years of probation, a fine in the range of $200 to $500, and public service in the range of 24 to 48 hours.

To dissuade individual’s from repeating past mistakes, the Colorado legislature has imposed enhanced punishments for a second conviction of DUI/DWAI. If convicted of either DUI or DWAI subsequent to being convicted of DUI/DWAI, an individual will serve 10 days to 1 year in prison. In addition to the mandatory term of imprisonment, upon release the individual will be subject to a minimum of 2 years probation, a fine in the range of $600 to $1500, and public service in the range of 48 to 120 hours.

As a final measure to dissuade individuals from driving in a state that imposes a danger upon themselves and others, the legislature increased the minimum period of imprisonment six fold. If convicted of either DUI or DWAI subsequent to being convicted of DUI/DWAI at least twice before, an individual will serve 60 days to 1 year in prison. In addition to the mandatory term of imprisonment, upon release the individual will be subject to a minimum of 2 years probation, a fine in the range of $600 to $1500, and public service in the range of 48 to 120 hours.

Although probation is one of the general elements of every sentence imposed for a DUI/DWAI conviction, the specific details of an individual’s probation requirement will vary slightly from case to case. Every probation requirement will consist of mandatory completion of a level II alcohol and drug driving safety education or treatment program  at the individual’s expense and a suspended sentence of 1 year imprisonment. In addition to the core probation requirements, it is in the courts discretion to impose any of the following requirements denoted in C.R.S. 42-4-1307:

  • An additional period of probation for monitoring
  • Utilization of an ignition interlock device
  • Submission to continuous alcohol monitoring via court available devices
  • Any other conditions allowed by the law

In addition to probation, an individual convicted of DUI or DWAI will be required to perform public service. The state of Colorado considers public service to be anything that benefits the public and is conducted under minimum supervision or other public cost, as long as the activity does not endanger the heath or welfare of the convicted individual. “The sentencing court, the probation department, the county sheriff, and the board of county commissioners shall cooperate in identifying suitable work assignments.”

There is an underlying motivation for every behavior, but if society has deemed a behavior to be detrimental to the greater good something must be done to reduce the occurrence. The legislature has determined that the most effective way to stop or decrease the number of incidents of DUI/DWAI is to impose a sentence consisting of imprisonment, probation, fines, and public service. To further dissuade individuals from repeating this dangerous behavior, penalties increase with each additional conviction, maxing out at 3. By establishing these guidelines for punishing individuals convicted of DUI/DWAI, the legislature has given the courts a large amount of leeway in determining the individual sentences of each offender. Allowing the court to slightly tailor the sentence according to the specific details of each case and the individual who committed them . However, this also makes it more difficult to predict an individual’s sentence precisely.


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