When Is A DUI a Felony In Colorado?

by | Jun 14, 2021 | DUI Defense, Felony Defense

A Felony DUI Conviction Can Haunt You Forever

All Colorado drunk driving charges are serious, but when the circumstances or your previous offenses make your DUI a felony in Colorado, you face consequences that can upend your life for years to come.

A conviction for felony DUI in Colorado can put you behind bars, suspend your driving privileges, cost you thousands of dollars in fines, and leave you with a criminal record that will follow you forever. That is why hiring an experienced Colorado DUI defense attorney is so critical if El Paso County prosecutors decide that the law and the facts of your case make your DUI a felony in Colorado.

What Is a Colorado Felony?

The State of Colorado divides criminal offenses, including driving under the influence, into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. While both charges are serious, the biggest difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is the potential length of time behind bars involved.

As the “lessor” of the two charges, a Colorado Springs misdemeanor conviction for DUI can result in a maximum of one year of incarceration, served in a county or local jail here in El Paso County.

If you’re convicted of a felony DUI and are sentenced to serve time, you will likely be sentenced to over a year behind bars which you will spend in one of Colorado’s 21 state prisons.

Additionally, Colorado law divides felony offenses into six classes. Each class is based on the relative “seriousness” of the crime as well as on other factors such as past criminal history or the unique circumstances of the offense. The more serious the felony class, the lengthier and costlier the possible sentence. (Class 1 felony convictions have more serious consequences than a Class 6 felony conviction.)

Felony DUI v. DUI As a Misdemeanor

Most first-time DUIs in Colorado that do not involve injury or death are prosecuted as misdemeanors. Likewise, second and third DUI convictions are normally misdemeanors, although the punishments for each subsequent DUIs are harsher. But if you are charged with a fourth DUI and/or if you hurt or killed someone while driving under the influence, prosecutors will likely charge you with a felony.

Related: Hiring A Felony Lawyer In Colorado Springs? 5 Questions You Need To Ask

DUI Is a Felony In Colorado If A Person Is Injured or Killed

Whether a DUI is your first or your fourth, prosecutors will seek to convict you of felony vehicular assault if you were responsible for a serious bodily injury to another person while driving in an impaired state. DUI-related vehicular assault is a Class 4 felony in the State of Colorado and can result in a prison sentence of two to six years, mandatory parole for three years, and fines ranging from $2,000 to $500,000.

Similarly, if you killed someone while driving drunk, you will face felony charges of DUI-related vehicular homicide. As a Class 3 felony, a vehicular homicide conviction comes with penalties that include four to 12 years in state prison, five years of mandatory parole, and a fine of between $3,000 and $750,000.

Fourth DUI Is An Automatic Felony

If you face charges for a fourth DUI, El Paso County prosecutors will view you as a habitual offender and will treat you as such. In fact, in 2015, Colorado passed a law that makes a fourth or subsequent DUI offense – regardless of whether anyone was injured or killed, a Class 4 felony.

And, unlike some neighboring states. Colorado’s felony DUI law does not contain a “look-back” provision, limiting how far back prosecutors can look when tallying up the number of DUI convictions. It will not matter how long ago the previous DUI convictions occurred. Even if your first three DUI convictions were decades ago, they will still count and you will face the possibility of a felony conviction.

Similarly, it doesn’t matter if your prior DUI convictions were in Colorado or not.  A DUI conviction in another state will count as a prior DUI conviction in Colorado for purposes of felony DUI charges. Colorado takes driving under the influence seriously, and so should you.

Don’t Face The Consequences Of A DUI Felony In Colorado By Yourself

Your life hangs in the balance when prosecutors make your DUI a felony in Colorado.  Trying to go it alone when facing such charges can make your bad situation even worse. You need a Colorado Springs felony DUI attorney with the insights, experience and drive gained as a former DUI prosecutor to protect your rights. The DUI attorneys at James Newby Law will attack every aspect of the prosecution’s case, aggressively and strategically fighting the allegations against you, putting you in the best position to obtain a positive outcome.

James Newby

James Newby

James Newby is a criminal defense attorney in Colorado Springs and the managing attorney of the criminal justice law firm James Newby Law. James got into law because of a deep-rooted passion for helping good people that may have made a poor choice that could have lasting consequences.