What Are the Typical Punishments For A First-Time DUI In Colorado?

Mar 8, 2021 | DUI Defense

Your First DUI Arrest Is A Big Deal. Your First DUI Conviction Is a Costly One.

Many Colorado Springs residents believe that a first-time DUI in Colorado is not a big deal.  But if you believe that, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Colorado imposes particularly harsh penalties for a first-time DUI conviction, hoping that these severe consequences are enough to make it the last time the convicted party gets behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. If El Paso County prosecutors charge you with DUI, you need to understand the punishments that await you if you’re found guilty. Once you know how much it will cost you – in dollars, days, driving privileges, and damage to your reputation, you will know that you need to pick up the phone and call an experienced Colorado Springs DUI defense attorney as soon as possible.

What Is A First-Time DUI in Colorado?

The amount of alcohol you can legally have in your body while driving – your blood alcohol content (BAC) – varies depending on your age and the type of driver’s license you carry. In Colorado, the legal limit for drivers over 21 years old is 0.08%. The limit for drivers under 21 years old is a substantially lower 0.02%, and if you hold a commercial driver’s license, the legal limit is 0.04%. If your BAC is at or above the legal limit that applies to you, police can arrest you and charge you with DUI.

But even if your BAC is below the limit for a DUI, prosecutors can still charge you with a crime. DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) is for drivers with a .05% BAC or higher (but less than .08% BAC) if the arresting officer determines that your driving was impaired to even the slightest degree.

Just because you face DUI charges in Colorado for the first time, prosecutors may not necessarily treat your case as a first-time DUI. Colorado law considers a DUI conviction in any other state, no matter how long ago it occurred, as your first DUI. In such circumstances, you would face the harsher penalties imposed on a second-time DUI conviction.  Offenders with 3 or more DUI convictions are considered habitual traffic offenders, and the penalties get harsher with each conviction.

Mandatory Jail Time Is Just One Distinct Consequence of First-Time DUI

A first-time Colorado DUI conviction is a misdemeanor that can result in several criminal and civil penalties, including:

Mandatory Jail Time

A first-time conviction in Colorado for DUI comes with a mandatory minimum of five days and up to one year behind bars. However, your defense attorney may be able to get you into an alternative alcohol evaluation, education, and treatment program instead of jail.  If you complete the program (which usually takes 12 hours for most first-time DUIs) and refrain from using alcohol for a year, El Paso County courts and prosecutors may waive your jail time (although this waiver is not a given certainty).

Drivers License Suspension

While many DUI penalties come only after a conviction, you will feel the impact on your driving privileges immediately upon your arrest. The officer will take away your license and give you a temporary permit that is valid for only seven days. If you want to get your driver’s license back, you need to request a hearing in writing within those seven days.

After the conviction of a first-time DUI, you may lose your license to suspension for nine months, although you can apply for a restricted license. Even if you are acquitted, your license may be suspended for up to one year if you refused a chemical test to determine your BAC level.

You might be interested in: What Are The Penalties For A Second DUI in Colorado?

Ignition Interlock Device

If you want to obtain a restricted license after your first-time DUI conviction, you will need to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle. If your conviction was for a BAC of less than 0.15%, you will need to keep the device on your car for a minimum of six months. If your BAC was 0.15% or over, you might need to keep it on for up to two years.

Importantly, you will bear the cost for the installation of the device as well as monthly maintenance charges of up to $90. Installation and removal of the interlock will cost hundreds of dollars each. You will also need to take your vehicle to the IID company for calibration every month.

Fines, Community Service, and Points On Your Driving Record

Upon conviction, you may have to pay fines of up to $1,000 plus be on the hook for hundreds of dollars in additional administrative, court, and treatment program costs.

You may also need to perform between 48-96 hours of community service and will have 12 points added to your driving record, with the increase in insurance premiums that come with those extra points.

Be aware that if your first-time DUI involves an accident that injures or kills another person, you will face substantially more severe punishment.

Don’t Face The Consequences Of A First-Time DUI By Yourself

Even a first-time DUI in Colorado can upend your life in many ways. Trying to go it alone when facing such charges can make your bad situation even worse. The Colorado Springs DUI attorneys at James Newby Law use the knowledge and insights obtained as former DUI prosecutors to protect the rights of individuals facing DUI charges.