How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Colorado?

The effects of a DUI conviction can follow you for a long time. When you apply for a home or job, a DUI conviction may turn up as part of a routine application process. It can be important to understand how long the conviction will stay on your record so that you can make plans accordingly. 

Criminal Record

Any time you are convicted of a crime, it becomes a matter of public record. Not only that, but the conviction stays on your record indefinitely unless you get an expungement. An expungement is where a part of your record is erased. Unfortunately, in Colorado, you are not eligible for an expungement if you are found guilty of DUI by a judge or a jury, or if you plead guilty to DUI under the terms of a plea agreement. There are diversion programs for some crimes in Colorado, where you can avoid a conviction by fulfilling certain requirements, but a DUI is usually not eligible for a diversion program. 

Driving Record 

If you refuse to cooperate during a DUI investigation, your driver's license may be revoked for up to a year, and if you fail sobriety tests, your license will also be suspended. Even if you get your license back, the DUI conviction will go on your record. The charge will stay on your record for 10 years, and you will also have 12 points against your license, although you can at least help with some of the points by taking a Defensive Driving course. Although you cannot take the conviction off your driving record, your insurance company will probably not go back further than 10 years when deciding how much to charge you for car insurance. 

How Often Do People Drink and Drive Before They Get Caught?

Most people have driven a car while a little intoxicated or buzzed. It can be difficult to assess your own level of intoxication, especially if you feel more confident after a few drinks. According to the CDC, most people drive while intoxicated dozens of times before their first arrest. Even with a decrease in alcohol-impaired driving, there are still thousands of related deaths every year. Because of education programs, there is also a social stigma attached to anyone involved in a drunk driving arrest.

What Can Happen If You Are Convicted of DUI?

There are many kinds of consequences if you get a DUI conviction, although most people get a combination:

  • You can get jail time, ranging anywhere from a day to years in prison, depending on whether anyone got hurt and if you have a prior conviction for driving under the influence.
  • The judge can order you to pay restitution if you caused an accident with property damage and/or injuries.
  • You may be put on probation, where you have to follow certain rules like not getting in trouble again for a year.
  • You can lose your driver’s license, making it difficult to meet family obligations and go to work.
  • Once you get your license back, you may have to pay for an interlock ignition device to make sure you don't drink and drive for a certain period.
  • The judge can order community service.
  • Your insurance rates may go up.
  • You may have to attend a MADD Victim Impact Panel where you listen to stories of people who have suffered because of drunk driving.
  • Your reputation in the community could suffer, and it could be difficult for you to get a good apartment or job.

The older a conviction is, the less impact it is likely to have on your life.

What If You Have a Prior DUI?

Most charges in Colorado allow the judge to offer a minimum sentence, which is often no days in jail. However, if you have a prior DUI in the last five years, the judge has to sentence you to at least 10 days in jail. A third offense means that a new conviction will get you at least 60 days in jail. Your driving privileges will also be suspended longer for each conviction: at least nine months for the first violation, a year for the second, and two years for the third. You may eventually lose your license for life if you keep getting DUI charges. If at all possible, it is best to avoid a DUI conviction entirely so you don't have to worry about the more severe punishments that could happen later.

How to Keep a DUI off Your Criminal Record

When it comes to DUI charges, the prosecutor is the one responsible for proving the case. You never have to do anything to help the state, and in fact, you should ask a criminal defense attorney that handles DUI cases before speaking with the prosecutor about your case. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't cooperate with law enforcement during a traffic stop because Colorado has an express consent law that states that if the officer has probable cause for a DUI, drivers must submit to testing. If you refuse, you could lose your license for a year.

Probable Cause

The officer who makes the arrest must be able to say what made him believe that you were intoxicated. It is not enough to say that your car looked “suspicious” or that your plates were expired. If the law enforcement officer who tested your sobriety cannot give a good reason, the entire case may be thrown out. 

How Your Defense Attorney Reviews Your Case

When an experienced criminal defense attorney takes on a new drunk driving case, the first step will be reviewing the arrest. The attorney will ensure that the officer followed all the proper steps for the sobriety testing and that the equipment was in good working order. There are several things your attorney will look for to help assess whether or not the case against you is solid. 

Looking for a Plea

Sometimes the case against you is very strong, but you have a clean record otherwise. The better your record, and the more sorry you appear for breaking the rules, the more likely the prosecutor will offer you a plea to help keep the conviction off your record. Sometimes you can plead down to reckless driving, for instance, to avoid a license suspension and the harsher penalties that come with a drunk driving conviction. Speak with an aggressive DUI attorney today. Call the Law Office Of Jill Jackson at (303) 818-7209 to learn more about your options if you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI in Colorado.


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