Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense. An error that may seem small, such as missing a traffic stop, can carry significant legal repercussions when the driver is under the influence of alcohol.
In the State of Colorado, being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) carries severe consequences. If you are convicted, seeking strong defense from a Denver DUI defense attorney is crucial. This is true even if you intend to plead guilty.
A DUI conviction entails the suspension of one’s driving privileges, financial penalties, and the potential for incarceration. Furthermore, a DUI record can leave a lasting mark on your driving record and show up in a future background check.
So what penalties await those convicted of DUI in Colorado? How long does a DUI stay on your record in this state? When is the right time to reach out to a Denver DUI defense lawyer? Continue reading to find answers to these pressing questions.
What Is a DUI?
DUI, short for “driving under the influence” of alcohol or other substances, is a matter of legal significance in Colorado. Regarding a first DUI offense in this state, it’s important to note that it’s not considered a mere traffic violation.
A first DUI conviction qualifies as an unclassified misdemeanor. Suppose a person has three or more prior DUI charges arising from separate and distinct incidents. In that case, the charge transforms into a Class 4 felony.
In Colorado, the “per se” blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is set at 0.08 percent. If a driver registers a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, he or she could face a DUI conviction even without additional proof of impairment.
For young drivers under the age of 21, Colorado maintains a strict stance on drinking and driving. The permissible Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for individuals in this age group is exceedingly low, capped at 0.02 percent.
Persons holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL) must adhere to the standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This agency establishes a legal limit of 0.04 percent BAC for such individuals. A DUI conviction while operating a commercial vehicle can have consequences for your professional license and non-commercial driver’s license.
Consequences of Underage Drinking in Colorado
What happens if you are caught consuming alcohol while under 21 in Colorado and you are NOT operating a motor vehicle?
Under Colorado law, this offense is referred to as Minor in Possession or Consumption of Alcohol, abbreviated as MIP and MIC. The legal penalties for MIP/MIC convictions are as follows:
- First conviction – Individuals facing a first conviction may incur a fine of up to $250
- Second conviction – The fine can escalate to as much as $500 for a second conviction
- Third and subsequent convictions – Subsequent convictions are treated as Class 2 Misdemeanors, which can result in jail time
A DUI Creates Two “Records”
Driving under the influence (DUI) comes with enduring and costly consequences, such as higher car insurance and possible driver’s license suspension. Even if your driving privileges are reinstated, a DUI conviction or guilty plea leaves a lasting mark on your record.
A DUI charge remains on your record forever and you’ll also accumulate 12 points against your driver’s license. A Denver DUI Lawyer can help to try and lower the amount of points through the negotiation process.
In Colorado, any time you are found guilty of a crime, it becomes a matter of public record. This conviction remains on your record indefinitely unless you pursue a sealing. A sealing entails the removal of a portion of your record, effectively erasing the serious offense from public view. However, the Colorado Legislature has excluded certain types of offenses from being eligible for sealing. Traffic offenses are one of those categories and thus a DUI conviction is not eligible for sealing at any point.
Having a DUI on your record initiates a chain of penalties. If you persistently drive after consuming alcohol, this can lead to arrest. Individuals arrested and charged with a DUI may face large fines and the prospect of jail time.
There is a difference between a criminal record and a driving record. DUIs are not exclusively linked to a criminal record. Hence, it’s imperative to grasp the disparity between these two records and how a DUI can impact them over time.
Understanding a Colorado DUI Charge and Its Impact on You
A DUI conviction can significantly affect your criminal record. Drivers should be informed of the consequences. Here’s what you should know.
Inclusion of DUIs on criminal records
Even if you are not ultimately charged or convicted of a DUI, being arrested for one means the case can still appear on your criminal record. If charges are dropped, dismissed, or if you are found not guilty at trial, you should reach out to a Denver DUI Attorney about the possibility of removing the incident from your record through the sealing process.
The “look back” period for Colorado DUIs
The “look back” period is the duration during which prior criminal convictions or cases on your record can impact later ones. Colorado does not have a look-back period for DUIs. Any previous DUI in Colorado can be visible on your criminal record. A prior conviction can influence potential charges and penalties in future DUI cases.
The only time a “look back” period is considered formally under Colorado law is on a second DUI or DWAI offense. In those cases, the penalties increase if the prior DUI or DWAI was within five years of the second DUI or DWAI.
Preventing DUI convictions from causing long-term severe penalties
One of the most critical steps for individuals facing DUI charges in Colorado is to seek the counsel of an experienced defense attorney promptly. Doing so can be pivotal in reducing the likelihood of a conviction. A DUI attorney can help you keep a clean record in Colorado.
Awareness of these aspects can help individuals navigate the complexities of DUI convictions. It can help prevent any surprises when you have a criminal background check.
Understanding the Consequences of a DUI Conviction
Getting convicted of a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) can lead to a range of consequences that could affect a whole lifetime. Some of the most common consequences are the following.
The duration of jail time can vary widely, from a single day to several years. A period in jail can depend on other factors, such as whether anyone was injured and if you have prior DUI convictions.
Suppose your drunk driving accident caused property damage or injuries. In that case, the judge may order you to pay restitution to the affected parties.
A deferred judgment is a probationary period during which defendants undertake specific court-mandated tasks. These tasks may include commitments like refraining from alcohol use, and complying with regular blood tests, for up to one year.
In return for successfully fulfilling these requirements throughout the probationary period, the charge against the defendant is ultimately dismissed. This legal mechanism allows individuals a fresh start and a clean slate if they meet the prescribed conditions.
Losing your license can make fulfilling family responsibilities and commuting to work challenging.
Ignition interlock device
Upon license reinstatement, you may need to install an ignition interlock device to prevent alcohol-impaired driving for a certain duration.
Community service and classes
The judge can mandate community service as part of your sentence and alcohol education classes.
The car insurance company that provides your insurance will react to your DUI arrest. Even a first-time DUI conviction can have severe consequences on your car insurance.
Expect higher car insurance premiums and your car insurance rates to increase significantly. It may also be difficult for you to find coverage in the future. Multiple companies might include you in the category of high-risk drivers.
MADD victim impact panel
Participation in a MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Victim Impact Panel may be required. Here, you’ll hear firsthand accounts from individuals affected by drunk driving.
Navigating DUI Charges in Colorado: Seek Legal Counsel for Clarity and Solutions
Are you facing the possibility of a DUI conviction? How long does a DUI stay on your driving record is a complex question, and understanding how long a DUI stays on your records is not the only question you want answered.
Partnering with a qualified attorney in Colorado can provide invaluable assistance in understanding the potential penalties associated with a conviction.
If you require legal support for your criminal cases in Colorado, don’t wait as a last resort to get in touch with our law office. Our DUI lawyers can be your first offense in the legal aid you need.
To learn more about your constitutional rights and discover how we can work towards favorable outcomes tailored to your unique situation, please contact a skilled Colorado DUI defense attorney.
For legal assistance with Colorado criminal cases, contact our attorneys to arrange a free consultation to discuss your choices. Reach us at 720-479-8574.