There is no getting around it: a conviction for DUI in Colorado is a bad thing. Anyone who tells you otherwise – whether it be your next-door neighbor or a criminal defense attorney – is not being straight with you. If you’ve been charged with a Colorado Springs DUI, you will want to do everything possible to avoid a conviction, starting with hiring an experienced DUI defense attorney who can aggressively fight the charges or work with prosecutors to minimize the consequences or penalties.
But how “bad” your DUI is in terms of its ongoing impact on your life depends on a lot of factors. Your DUI can wind up being a footnote in the story of your life or a whole chapter.
It is important to remember that an arrest for a DUI is much different than a conviction for DUI. Everyone charged with a crime in our criminal justice system is innocent until proven guilty. The burden is on prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated above the legal limit, and with a good DUI defense attorney at your side who can challenge the legitimacy of the stop, attack the validity of the evidence, and undermine the veracity of the witnesses against you, meeting that burden can often be extremely difficult.
But just facing DUI charges can still place a cloud over your life. Your DUI arrest is a public record, and it’s possible if not probable that your friends, family, and colleagues may find out. This can of course be a cause of great embarrassment, even if you are ultimately cleared of the charges.
Even though you are presumed innocent after your arrest, you will still lose your driving privileges for a while, with automatic license suspensions which can vary in length from 90 days to much longer depending on whether it was your first arrest or a subsequent one, among other factors. There are ways to fight such suspensions and regain at least some of your driving privileges, but given how much you likely depend on driving to get to work and take care of the business of your life, even the shortest amount of time off the road can crate big challenges.
While there are certainly embarrassments and inconveniences that come with a DUI arrest, a DUI conviction is a much more serious matter. The consequences of a DUI conviction extend beyond fines, jail time, and license suspensions to other aspects of your life. Loss of job and educational opportunities, higher insurance premiums, travel restrictions, loss of firearms and other rights, and a threat to your immigration status are just a few of the ways a DUI conviction can burden you for months or years after your conviction.
So, is a Colorado Springs DUI arrest bad? Yes. But you and your DUI defense attorney can aggressively fight the charges and work to keep the impact on your life to a minimum so you can put the ordeal behind you. Is a Colorado Springs DUI conviction worse? Yes, especially if it is a second or subsequent conviction or if anyone was hurt or killed. But life is full of challenges that we must overcome, and a DUI conviction is no different. There is always hope, and there is almost always a path forward.