What Are Colorado’s DUI Penalties for First-Time Offenders?
According to Colorado DUI laws, it’s a criminal offense to drive or operate a vehicle under the following circumstances:
- While intoxicated with alcohol or drugs
- With a blood alcohol content (BAC) equivalent to or more than 0.08%.
Operating a vehicle with a BAC of between 0.05% and 0,08% is classified as driving while ability impaired (DWAI) offense. Being convicted of a DUI can have hefty penalties, even if it’s your first offense. An experienced Colorado Springs DUI lawyer can help you fight the charges.
What Qualifies as a First-Time DUI in Colorado?
The legally allowed blood alcohol content (BAC) level while driving varies on your age and type of driver’s license. In Colorado, the legal limit is 0.08% for drivers over 21 years, while for those under 21 years is substantially lower by 0.2%. Commercial drivers have a legal limit of 0.04%. If your BAC is at or above the legal limit based on these factors, you can be charged with a DUI.
However, even with a BAC below the limit for a DUI, prosecutors can still bring a charge against you. A BAC of between 0.05% and 0.08% can earn you a DWAI charge if the arresting officer determines your driving was impaired even to the slightest level.
When you face DUI charges in Colorado, prosecutors may not necessarily treat your case as a first-time offense, even without a previous record. That’s because a DUI conviction in any other state may pass as your first DUI, no matter how long ago it happened.
In that case, you risk getting harsher penalties for a subsequent DUI. Your best defense would be to hire a skilled Colorado Springs DUI lawyer to help you fight the charges and have the penalties reduced.
What Happens After a First DUI Offense in Colorado?
A first DUI offense in Colorado is not classified as a typical traffic crime but as an unclassified misdemeanor offense. For comparison, it is similar to a class 1 misdemeanor in severity. However, the term unclassified doesn’t mean the offense is not serious, and it may attract the following penalties:
Driver’s License Suspension
Many DUI penalties only come after a conviction, but you’ll feel the impact on your driving privileges immediately upon arrest. That’s because the arresting officer will take away your license and issue you a temporary permit valid for only seven days. To get your license back, you must request a hearing in court within those seven days.
An experienced DUI lawyer in Colorado Springs can help you file the request within the time limits. They can also show cause as to why you should get your license back. However, getting your license back doesn’t mean you can’t lose it again, as a conviction may have the license suspended for at least nine months. During that time, you may apply for a restricted license.
Ignition Interlock Device
A conviction may require you to install an ignition interlock device after the first DUI conviction to allow you to obtain a restricted license. If you were convicted for a BAC of not more than 0.15%, you must maintain the interlock device on your car for at least 4 months up to the entire length of your suspension. For a BAC of more than 0.15%, you may need to retain it for up to two years.
Mandatory Jail Time
Upon conviction of a first-time DUI, you will get a mandatory jail time of five days or a maximum of one year behind bars. A skilled and knowledgeable DUI attorney in Colorado Springs who understands how the criminal system works can fight to have the penalties reduced. They can get you into a treatment or alternative evaluation program instead of jail.
After completing the program and having refrained from drinking for at least one year, the court may remove the jail time. Nonetheless, the waiver isn’t a guarantee.
Fines and Community Service
A first-time DUI conviction can attract fines of up to $1,000, not counting additional administrative, treatment program charges, and court costs. The court may also order you to perform between 48-96 hours of community service and add 12 points to your driving record.
If your first DUI conviction involves an accident that causes injuries to or death of another person, the penalties will be substantially more severe. Consider seeking legal representation from an experienced criminal defense law firm in Colorado to help you fight the charges and have them dropped or the penalties reduced.
What Are the Aggravating Factors for First-Time DUI Penalties?
Some conditions may lead to additional penalties if you’re arrested and charged for a DUI for the first time:
- Refusing a BAC test: Not consenting to a BAC test can be used as evidence of your guilt and can lead to the automatic revocation of your license for one year.
- A prior DUI offense in another state: A previous DUI record in the last five years can lead to a more extended jail time (minimum of 10 days) even if the offense happened in a different state.
- You caused an accident while driving under the influence: You will face more charges and penalties in relation to the accident.
- Child in the car: Having a child in the vehicle at the time of a DUI arrest can lead to child abuse charges, even if the child wasn’t injured, in addition to the DUI charge.
An Experienced DUI Lawyer Aggressively Defending Your Rights
If charged with a DUI offense in Colorado, even for the first time, you risk getting severe penalties that can significantly affect your life. Regardless of the punishment, an arrest will appear on your criminal record and impact your future and reputation. An experienced Colorado Springs DUI attorney can help you fight the charges to protect your reputation and freedom.
At our firm, we help clients through their DUI cases. A mistake in the past shouldn’t hinder you from living your best life now and in the future. If you are facing charges for a DUI for the first time or subsequent offense, we can evaluate your case and help you create a strong defense. Schedule a meeting with us to discuss your case.