Colorado DUI Penalties
The penalties for DUI in Colorado include both the sentence given to you by the judge in your criminal court case, as well as a suspension of your privilege to drive by the Department of Motor Vehicles. These should be considered as two entirely separate cases, as they generally have nothing to do with one another. In other words, you could have your case dismissed entirely at the DMV, but be unable to avoid a conviction in your court case – or vice versa. This page explains how the criminal court judge will decide what sentence someone convicted of DUI or DWAI will receive. For more information regarding the suspension of your driver's license, please visit our DMV License Suspension page.
How the Judge Will Decide Your Sentence:
If you are convicted of, or plead guilty to, a DUI or DWAI charge, you will be given a sentence by the judge. The four main decisions the judge must make are:
- How much (if any) jail time you should receive
- How much community service you should be required to do
- What degree of alcohol counseling you need
- Whether you should be given a fine, and for how much
The judge will also make other decisions, such as whether or not you will be allowed to serve a jail sentence by doing in-home detention, or work-release; or whether you will be allowed to do unsupervised, rather than supervised, probation, etc.
A DUI is a misdemeanor charge, and is not a felony charge. The maximum sentence a person can receive in Colorado is one year in jail (except in cases involving Vehicular Assault / Vehicular Manslaughter). If you are also convicted of other charges in addition to DUI, your jail sentence could be greater than one year, since the judge would be authorized to run the sentences “consecutive” to each other, meaning that they are added together. Generally, the factors that determine your sentence will include:
- How many (if any) prior DUI related offenses you have
- How high your blood alcohol content was
- Whether there was an accident involved
- If there was an accident, whether anyone was injured
- Whether your driving demonstrated reckless disregard for safety, such as excessive speeding, etc.
- Your demeanor (politeness vs. rudeness) with the police officer that arrested you
- Your conduct since the DUI, such as whether you have enrolled in alcohol classes
- Your sense of remorse, and taking your mistake seriously
You may be required to pay restitution in cases where there was an accident. For example, if you damaged someone’s car you will be required to pay for everything that is not covered by that person’s insurance, including their deductible.
To find the minimum and maximum sentence for your situation, please our Drunk Driving Sentencing page.