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Offices In Colorado Springs, Pueblo, And The Denver Metro Area

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 32 people in America die in drunk-driving car crashes each day. From these statistics, more than 10,000 people died every year between 2010 to 2019. Despite these numbers though, people continue to operate vehicles while under the influence.

Driving under the influence in Colorado can potentially have high costs and long-lasting penalties. Aside from penalties, you may be responsible for someone’s injury or even death.

What Is Considered “Under the Influence” in Colorado

A person is considered “under the influence” if they are substantially incapable mentally and/or physically to use clear judgement, adequate physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle. Law enforcement might utilize an array of tests to establish a blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Reaching a BAC of .08% or higher within a reasonable time period of driving can be an indication that an individual was under the influence.

DUI Arrest Process in Colorado

If you are arrested for driving under the influence, you will go through two processes after your arrest: administrative and criminal.

Administrative Process

The administrative process addresses your driving privileges. After your arrest, you have seven days from receiving notice to request a hearing with the Department of Revenue Hearings Division. If you fail to request a hearing within this time period, your driving privileges will be revoked. The length of your revocation depends on if you have previous DUIs and the severity of your alcohol content during the arrest. Additionally, you may be required to participate in the Interlock program, SR-22 insurance, treatment programs, and pay reinstatement fees to regain your driving privileges.

Criminal Process

The criminal process of DUIs will be in court. In addition to the requirements to regain your driving privileges, the court may order further penalties if you are found guilty. The penalties of conviction may include:

  • Fines
  • Jail Time
  • Treatment Programs
  • Restitution
  • Probation

Working with an attorney can help support you in court and walk you through the complex defense process. An attorney can defend your rights and pour over the case for officer mistakes that can be in your favor. Examples may include failure to read you your rights or coercion into taking a breathalyzer test. Ultimately, an attorney can help you find the most favorable outcome.

Types of DUI Penalties

DUI penalties vary depending on the number of offenses and if the incident caused serious bodily injury. It is critical to note that even if you have no prior convictions, a DUI is a class 4 felony if your impaired driving caused serious bodily harm. Additionally, a fourth DUI conviction becomes a class 4 felony. In these scenarios, you will face two to six years in prison, mandatory parole terms, and at least $2,000 in fines.

Standard First-Time DUI Penalties

If you receive a DUI conviction for the first time, your penalties range depending on how high your blood alcohol concentration was and if you caused an accident. A first-offence DUI is when you have had no prior DUI convictions in Colorado or in any other state or territory of the U.S.

Penalties for a first-time DUI may include:

  • 5 days to 1 year in jail
  • A fine up to $1,000 in addition to court costs and surcharges
  • License revocation for 9 months
  • Community service up to 96 hours and $120 fee
  • Alcohol education classes
  • Ignition interlock devices (IIDs)

Standard Second-Time DUI Penalties

A second DUI conviction can still be considered a misdemeanor. However, jail time is mandatory for second DUI convictions. The penalties for a second-time DUI conviction may include:

  • 10 days to 1 year in jail
  • A fine up to $1,500 in addition to court costs and surcharges
  • License revocation for 1-2 years
  • Community service up to 120 hours and $120 fee
  • Probation for at least 2 years
  • Alcohol/drug evaluation and recommended treatment program
  • IIDs

Standard Third-Time DUI Penalties

A third DUI conviction in Colorado is the final offense before becoming a felony charge. The penalties for a third-time DUI may include:

  • 60 days to 1 year in jail
  • A fine up to $1,500 in addition to court costs and surcharges
  • Up to 120 hours of public service and $120 fee
  • License revocation for 2-3 years
  • Probation for at least 2 years
  • Alcohol/drug evaluation and recommended treatment program
  • IIDs

DUI penalties become increasingly higher as offenses accumulate. However, in the event that you injure or kill someone while drunk driving, you can be charged with a case 4 or 3 felony. Even if you have never been convicted of a DUI, injuring or killing someone can be considered vehicular assault or homicide. Therefore, in addition to your DUI penalties you may face these more aggressive charges.

Vehicular Assault in Colorado

As a driver, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of yourself, your passengers, and others on the road including drivers, pedestrians, etc. If you get into an accident and injure someone, you risk being charged with vehicular assault.

To prove your DUI caused bodily injury, evidence must show the following:

  • You were driving the vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both
  • Your behavior was the cause of serious bodily injuries

Vehicular Assault Penalties

Penalties vary for vehicular assault in Colorado. Not only will you be charged with a class 4 felony, but depending on your criminal and drunk driving history, the penalizations may include:

  • Prison for 2 to 6 years
  • Mandatory minimum 3 years parole
  • Fines up to $500,000
  • Revocation of license for 1 year
  • Restitution to injured victims

Victims of vehicular assault may sustain injuries including concussions, burns, and whiplash. Other injuries may include skull fractures, broken bones, and even catastrophic injuries that are permanently debilitating.

In addition to your vehicular assault charges, a personal injury claim may be filed against you. In this scenario, you can become responsible for recompensating the medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses of those that were directly injured.

Vehicular Homicide Penalties

Driving under the influence and causing a crash that is fatal to another person is a class 3 felony offense. The penalties may include the following:

  • Prison for 4 to 12 years
  • Fines up to $750,000
  • Revocation of license for at least 1 year

If there was more than one fatality from the accident, additional felony vehicular homicide charges can be implemented. Vehicular homicide cases can become very emotional and complex. The prosecutor will seek a long prison sentence due to the death of the alleged victim. In addition to the anger and resentment of the alleged victim’s family, the media may influence the case in a negative fashion.

Consulting With a Defense Attorney

Whether you are being charged with a DUI, vehicular assault, or homicide, an attorney can help fight for your rights in court. An attorney will examine the elements of your DUI case to determine if it was illegitimate or if you were treated unfairly by the law. Perhaps an officer failed to gather enough evidence or constitutional mistakes were made. Regardless of these factors, an attorney can advise you and build a strong defense.

Similarly with a vehicular assault, an attorney can further scrutinize the details of the accident to build a defense for you. The attorney can look into any inconsistencies and analyze aspects of the case such as DUI-test results, alleged victim’s injuries, witness accounts, and other details that can help support you.

In the situation of vehicular homicide, an attorney may also negotiate a plea offer with the prosecutor before media and the alleged victim’s family influences the case. A plea offer is an agreement by the prosecutor to resolve the defendant’s case in the best interest of their clients. Examples may include a reduced charge, punishment, or fine.

Persons accused of vehicular homicide often report feeling guilt and remorse after a fatal accident. However, even feelings of sorrow do not diminish the importance of seeking a proper defense and representation in court. With the heavy prison sentences and fine penalties associated with a conviction, consulting with an attorney is imperative to protect your rights and freedom. Your attorney will seek the best possible outcome in your vehicular homicide case.

You do not have to go through the legal process alone. DUIs and more serious cases such as vehicular assault and homicide can come with high penalties without a proper defense. Consulting with an attorney may alleviate your worries and provide you with defense to potentially increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

Clawson & Clawson, LLP can support you in your case. With nearly 100 years of combined legal experience, we are skilled in defense representation and providing legal guidance.

Call today at (719) 602-5888 or contact us online today!