If you’ve recently been arrested and/or charged with a DUI or DWAI, you probably can’t think about anything else.  Or at the very least you have a lot of questions looping through your mind, such as:  Will I go to jail? For how long?  What about probation?  Should I Fight my Case?  Can I Still Drive my Car?  These questions are common.  Having anxiety about your case and upcoming court date is natural. The best way to ease some of these concerns is by being informed about Court Procedures, Colorado DUI Laws, and Penalties.  It is important to contact the Law Office of Jill M. Jackson to evaluate your case and explain the process.  Attorney Jill Jackson has experience in all areas of DUI and DWAI cases.

Driving Privileges and DMV

A major concern after being charged with a DUI is losing your driver’s license.  Keep in mind that the DMV procedures are different and separate from the court procedures.  You have the right to a DMV hearing regarding your driving privileges. However, you need to act quickly, typically 7 days, to request a hearing with the DMV.  The hearing will take place over the phone or at the DMV.  An attorney can appear on your behalf, present evidence, and cross examine the police officer.

DUI Versus DWAI

Being charged with a DUI, Driving Under the Influence, means you are being accused of driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and that affects you to a degree that you are incapable, either mentally or physically, of exercising clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in operating a vehicle.  C.R.S. 42-4-1307 (2)(c).

Similarly, being charged with a DWAI, Driving While Ability Impaired, means you are being accused of driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and that affects you to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person would ordinarily be, either mentally or physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in operating a vehicle.  C.R.S. 42-4-1307 (2)(d).

A DWAI is considered a lesser offense of a DUI offense. A DWAI charge also has lower penalties and different DMV consequences.

There is no “cookie cutter” approach to a DUI or DWAI case.  While first DUI/DWAI charges are misdemeanor offenses they are often more complicated than some felony offenses. Every case is different.  Sometimes the focus of a DUI case is challenging the testing mechanisms used to measure Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).  When an officer pulls you over and believes you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you have the option of a breathalyzer test or blood test.  You can also refuse all testing.  Each option has unique challenges and presents potential arguments in court.

DUI/DWAI Penalties

First Offense:

You might be surprised to know that a first offense DUI conviction can result in up to a year in jail time.  Specifically, a minimum period of 5 days to 1 year of imprisonment in the county jail.  A DWAI conviction can also result in a minimum of 2 days but not more than 180 days in county jail. However, the court may suspend these jail sentences if you complete an alcohol/drug evaluation and level 1 or 2 alcohol/drug programs. The court can require various other terms and conditions of probation.

You might still be required to serve a minimum mandatory jail time depending on your BAC results.

Second Offense:

If you are convicted of a second DUI or DWAI offense, you can face a sentence of 10 days to 1 year in county jail with the 10 days being a minimum mandatory jail sentence.  You will also serve a mandatory period of probation.

Third Offense:   

If you are convicted of a third DUI or DWAI offense, you can face a sentence of 60 days to 1 year in county jail with the 60 days being a minimum mandatory jail sentence.  Including the mandatory period of probation.

A fourth DUI conviction is now a class 4 felony offense in Colorado.  The potential sentence ranging from 2-6 years in prison with 3 years parole.

Colorado has harsh DUI and DWAI penalties with most sentences resulting in minimum mandatory jail time, especially for subsequent charges.  Yet, you are not stuck in a hopeless situation. Being aware of your rights and legal processes ahead of you can help you make the right decisions along the way.  Call the Law Office of Jill M. Jackson today to set up a consultation to evaluate your case and discuss your options.