DWIs can leave the accused with lots of questions about their options, the law, and what they need to do going forward. To help those facing drunk driving charges in Colorado, here are answers to some of the most common questions about DWIs in Colorado. Although the answers have been generalized to cover most situations, you can easily get advice and information specific to your case by contacting the Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC.
How Are DWAI Charges Different from DUI Charges in Colorado?
Both charges are related to the offense of drunk driving; the difference lies in the severity of the offense and, specifically, the blood alcohol concentration (BACs) at the time of the arrest.
DWAIs in Colorado are typically reserved for lower BACs of 0.05 to below 0.08. DUIs are for drivers with BACs of 0.08 or more. Consequently, a first-time DWAI is usually considered to be less serious than a first-time DUI, and it will have less severe penalties if a case ends in conviction.
After someone has been convicted of a DWAI, prosecutors can consider it a DUI if that individual is charged with another drunk driving offense later (for the purposes of determining charges).
What Are the Penalties for DWAI, DUI & DUID in Colorado?
DUI penalties can be imposed if someone pleads guilty, accepts a plea deal, or is convicted at trial. When any of those things happen, the penalties that (s)he can face will depend on several factors, including (but not limited to):
Prior DUI convictions: More prior convictions within a shorter period of time can mean elevated charges and harsher penalties. After 3 DUI convictions, drunk driving charges can be felonies, which put prison (not jail) time on the line.
Chemical test refusals: Refusing a breath or blood test is a violation of the “express consent” law in Colorado. This will result in the automatic penalty of a driver’s license suspension, no matter what happens with a criminal DUI case. A first refusal will result in a one-year suspension; a second refusal will bring a two-year suspension, and a third chemical test refusal will be met with a three-year suspension.
Aggravating factors: This refers to any circumstances beyond the DUI that could have caused harm or constituted a crime. Often, aggravating circumstances in DUI cases are crashes, injuries, and/or vehicular manslaughter. These will typically invoke more serious charges and possible penalties.
Check out the table below to see the penalties that are generally imposed for Colorado DUIs that have no aggravating factors.
License Revocation Term (Must Be Served Before IID Term)
Underage DWAI or DUI
Class A Traffic Infraction
$15 to $100
Up to 24 hrs.
2 to 180 days in jail
$200 to $500
24 to 48 hrs.
1st DUI or DUID
5 days to 1 year in jail
$600 to $1,000
48 to 96 hrs.
2nd DWAI, DUI or DUID
10 days to 1 year in jail
$600 to $1,500
48 to 120 hrs.
3rd DWAI, DUI or DUID
60 days to 1 year in jail
$600 to $1,500
48 to 120 hrs.
4th DWAI, DUI or DUID
Class 4 Felony
2 to 6 years in prison
$2,000 to $500,000
48 to 120 hrs.
How Do BAC Levels Impact DUI Charges in Colorado?
0.15 is the “threshold” BAC at which DUIs can bring more serious consequences. In fact, drivers with BACs at or over 0.15 can be deemed to be a “persistent drunk driver” (PDD) even for a first offense. While higher BACs can raise the stakes in DUI cases by making harsher penalties possible, there can be ways to fight the allegations and still try to work out favorable resolutions.
How Long Will I Lose My Driver’s License After a Colorado DUI?
As with DUI charges and penalties, the circumstances of the case—and whether you have priors on your record—can affect how long a DUI driver’s license suspension in Colorado ends up being. Typically, those who will lose their driver’s license after a DUI in Colorado include those who:
Refused to give a breath or blood sample
Fail to request or do not win a DMV hearing after a DUI arrest
Are convicted of a DUI in a Colorado criminal court
Check out the table below to see how long driver’s license suspensions for DUIs in Colorado usually last. This table also features the points added to driver’s records for various DUI offenses.
Points Added to Driving Record
1st DUI or DUID
2nd DUI or DUID
3rd DUI or DUID
How Long Will a Colorado DUI stay on My Record?
The criminal case will remain on your record for 10 years. After that, prospective employers and others who run background checks on you will not be able to see the case. The points on your driving record will go away after two years.
Despite these timeframes, it’s crucial for people to know that:
There is no DUI lookback period in Colorado: Prosecutors and the courts can look at your complete driving record and any prior DUIs you have, no matter how long ago they were. That effectively means that DUIs from 15 or every 20 years ago could count as a first offense if someone gets another DUI today.
It may be possible to get Colorado DUIs expunged: This would erase a DUI case from a record, making it look like the case never happened. To qualify for a DUI expungement, very specific requirements must be met.
How Much Does a DUI in Colorado Cost?
Expect to pay at least $13,530 for your first DUI in Colorado if you’re convicted in 2021 or after. This price tag includes court fines, probation supervision fees, restitution, and more. It assumes a simple DUI case, so any aggravating factors, such as an accident or injuries, would elevate these costs.
Notably, Colorado DUI costs have been on the rise recently. In fact, over the past five years, DUI costs in Colorado have increased by more than 30%, according to data from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). These rising costs are largely the result of deterrent efforts.
The best way to mitigate and minimize the costs of a DUI in Colorado is to retain an experienced defense lawyer who can help you fight the charges and seek the best outcomes possible.
More Answers & A Fierce DUI Defense Await: Contact Us
The experienced team at the Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC is ready to help you understand the charges, what’s on the line, and your best options for moving forward. Highly experienced and exceptionally skilled, our Castle Rock DUI lawyers can zealously fight for you, protecting your rights and providing you with clear, helpful advice at every step going forward.
The truth is that you may only have one chance to defend yourself, protect your interests, and fight for your reputation and good name—and there often is not very much time to investigate DUI cases and gather the evidence before your hearing dates.
Make sure you are ready to put up the best fight when it matters most. Make sure you have a 5-star Parker DUI lawyer from the Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC on your side, advocating your rights and defending you every step of the way.
Call or email our firm for a confidential, no-obligation consultation.
It’s never too early to contact a lawyer and start your defense. The sooner you reach out to the Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC, the faster we can start working on your defense, whether you are in jail, you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, or your DUI case is especially complex.
Strategic and well-respected in Parker and throughout Douglas County, we are the partners you can rely on for excellence, a fierce defense, and optimal chances of bringing your case to a favorable resolution.