Impact of First DUI Offense in Colorado: Penalties, Trial, and More

DUI Offense in Colorado

Imagine you went to a Colorado bar for a few white whisky neats with friends and had a good time. But you chose to drive intoxicated while heading home. This decision can cost you your future, affect your records, and endanger your surroundings. 

The legal blood alcohol limit in Colorado is 0.08% for people over 21. However, drivers under 21 should have less than 0.2% blood alcohol level. Studies show Colorado has become the worst state for driving under the influence (DUI). 

In 2022, there were 684 fatalities due to this. The Colorado government states that 38% of fatal traffic accidents happen due to impaired drivers. Even a first-time DUI charge can change your life completely. 

In this blog, we will discuss the penalties, effects on careers, and other aspects of a DUI charge in Colorado. 

DUI Penalties in Colorado for First-Timers

As a first-time offender, your DUI penalties will depend on your level of intoxication and aggravating factors. Examples include refusing a blood alcohol content test (BAC), endangering passengers, and causing an accident. 

You will receive a DUI if you have five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Moreover, if your BAC is 0.08% or higher, you will receive a DUI per se. That means the police do not need any additional evidence of impairment. 

Based on these, you can receive the following consequences: 

  • 48 to 96 hours of community service 
  • Five days to one year of jail time 
  • Fine between USD 600 and USD 1000 
  • Education classes and therapy
  • Nine months of license revocation

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will suspend your license if you fail to request a hearing within a week. Furthermore, a first-time DUI charge in Colorado will be a criminal misdemeanor. 

How Can a Colorado DUI Affect Your Life?

Life can become challenging with a single DUI conviction on your record. A first-time charge can have devastating effects on your career and life. For instance, you might have license restrictions, be on probation, pay hefty fines, and go to jail. 

In Colorado, the penalties can disrupt your life as you need to take alcohol counseling and undergo community service. Moreover, it affects your career. For instance, you cannot find a job in the medical or law industries as it requires an additional background search. 

You can receive suspended employment and revoked admission privileges at your workplace. A DUI conviction can also limit job prospects and affect growth opportunities at work. 

Similarly, the penalties will be higher if you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). According to the Moorhead Law Group, a first-time conviction can lead to a CDL suspension of up to one year. Therefore, it can be problematic to earn a living if you depend on driving commercial vehicles. 

However, you can get a CDL with a DUI if you complete the suspension period and pay the reinstatement fees. The process includes filling out an application at the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Division of Motor Vehicles. Then, you must finish the drug and alcohol programs to get the application approved. 

How Long Does a Colorado DUI Conviction Remain on Your Record?

Your offense’s severity will determine the long-term consequences. In Colorado, a DUI offense will remain on your criminal record forever. For instance, your previous DUI charges will influence your current convictions during the look-back period. 

The court will consider your previous offenses if you get a second DUI charge within five years. As a result, the earlier conviction will influence sentencing. However, a look-back period is vital only if you receive a new DUI charge. 

The court will consider all unfiled, unconvicted, acquitted, and dismissed charges. That is why a DUI defense attorney can assist you through the process. Additionally, the court will extend the look-back period if violators have extensive priors. 

What Happens at a DUI Trial in Colorado?

According to Forbes, 88% of DUI cases in Colorado resulted in convictions. That means public prosecutors charged over 20,000 people for driving drunk in the state. The Colorado police will not put you under arrest for a DUI charge as a first-time offender. However, you will spend time in jail if you have caused an accident or refused to cooperate. 

Remember, you can only be convicted if the state has proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Either way, you should call a defense lawyer to help you with the trial. First, they would try to get the charges dismissed. If that does not work, they will secure a right to a jury for your case. 

Suppose there is overwhelming evidence holding you responsible for the DUI. In this situation, the lawyer will negotiate a plea deal to reduce the sentence and lessen the charge against you. Technically, your lawyer will challenge the breathalyzer test results and the officer’s testimony.

During the trial, the defense lawyer will cast doubt on these aspects. However, you can win this case if the arresting officers violated your legal rights. This way, your DUI charge will be dropped or dismissed. 

The Bottom Line

The only way to fight a DUI conviction in Colorado is by gathering evidence to prove your innocence. You have to put up a legal fight after obtaining arrest records, pointing out discrepancies, and interviewing witnesses. Hired attorneys will help gather video and audio evidence and review test results. 

You can win the case if there are rights violations, equipment errors, improper procedures, and medical conditions. While a first-time DUI offense does not have intense penalties, it can ruin your future. That is why you should plan, know your limits, keep track of your drinks, and weigh the risks before driving.

Read Also: Why Do I Need a Trial Lawyer for My Case and Not Just Any Old Lawyer?