What Is Colorado’s Look-Back Period For DUI and How Does This Affect My Current Charges?

by | Mar 25, 2024 | DUI Defense

Colorado Law Has A Very, Very Long Memory When It Comes To DUI Convictions

Colorado’s “look-back” period for DUIs reminds us that no matter how long ago they happened, some mistakes can come back to haunt us years or even decades later. And when those mistakes are drunk driving convictions, our state doesn’t forgive and forget.

According to Colorado drunk driving laws, any previous DUI conviction on your record – no matter how long ago or (for the most part) where you got it – will count against you if and when a subsequent DUI arrest happens, though more recent ones may have a more significant impact on the punishments you face.

But regardless of when an earlier DUI occurred, Colorado’s look-back period will not be of much comfort.

What Is a “Look-Back” Period for DUI?

Like many other criminal offenses, the charges and punishments upon conviction for DUI get progressively more harsh the more previous convictions you already have under your belt. So, when Colorado Springs police arrest and charge you with DUI, whether the law sees the charges as your first or second offense is a huge deal.

In some states, the law includes a “look-back” period for DUI convictions. That means that if a previous DUI conviction happened a long time ago—usually five or ten years previously—those charges will no longer count as the first offense. For all intents and purposes, the current charges in those states will be for a first-time rather than a second DUI.

However, Colorado is not one of those states.

James - look-back period for dui in colorado makes your first dui far from a distant memory

There Is No Look-Back Period For DUI Under Colorado Law

Colorado law and El Paso County prosecutors take DUIs extremely seriously – so seriously that there is no provision in the law for a look-back period for DUI.

While, as discussed below, an older DUI will have less of an impact than a more recent one on the severity of a sentence for any subsequent DUI conviction, that earlier conviction will still make the next one a second offense, the one after that a third offense, and so on.

This lack of a look-back period is consistent with the fact that a DUI conviction will remain on your criminal record forever. In Colorado, there is no way to have a DUI conviction sealed or expunged from your record.

It doesn’t matter when your previous DUI conviction was, and it doesn’t matter where your prior DUI conviction was. A DUI conviction in another state will count as a prior DUI conviction in Colorado for purposes of subsequent DUI charges.

You Might Like: DUI Lawyer Free Consultation: 14 Questions You Must Ask

How The Lack of a Look-Back Period For DUI Affects Your Current Charges

While the consequences of a first-time DUI conviction in Colorado Springs are hardly a walk in the park and can upend your life in all sorts of ways, the penalties for a second DUI conviction are significantly more severe.

And needless to say, the penalties for a third or subsequent DUI conviction are even worse.

That is why Colorado’s lack of a look-back period for DUI matters so much.

Perhaps the most significant distinction between your first and second DUIs is the probability that you will spend some time behind bars. The mandatory jail sentence for a second DUI is a minimum of 10 days, and potentially up to one year.

Additional penalties for a second DUI in Colorado may include:

  • Up to $1,500 in fines
  • Revocation of your Colorado driver’s license for 12 months
  • Up to 120 hours of community service
  • Probation for up to four years
  • Alcohol education classes

Designation as a “Persistent Drunk Driver”

A second conviction in Colorado for a DUI will also earn you the unwanted label of being a “persistent drunk driver.” This undesirable designation had additional penalties which may include:

  • Level II alcohol education classes and treatment program (on your own dime).
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) for a minimum of two years to reinstate your driver’s license
  • Proof of financial responsibility and insurance coverage (insurance form SR-22) for at least two years.

james - look back period for dui in colorado may label you as persistent drunk driver

Why A More Recent DUI Conviction Matters More Than An Older One

Though Colorado does not have a look-back period for DUI, there is a difference in potential punishments depending on when the older DUI conviction was entered.

As noted, a second DUI conviction comes with a mandatory 10-day jail sentence. However, suppose the previous DUI happened more than five years ago. In that case, the judge has the discretion to waive that sentence and instead impose alternatives such as a treatment program, home detention, and monitoring.

That said, the judge has no such discretion to consider these alternatives for individuals whose previous DUI convictions occurred less than five years before the current one.

When Your Past Mistakes Come Back to Haunt You, You Need Expert Representation

Is a recent DUI charge reminding you of a past you would rather forget? Even if you have a previous DUI, expert representation can ensure that your past mistakes don’t continue to haunt you.

The Colorado Springs drunk driving defense attorneys at James Newby Law have the experience and insight you need to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Speak with one of our criminal defense attorneys today to see how you can put the former prosecutor advantage to work for you.

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.