If you are charged with a repeat DUI offense in Colorado, I can help you fight back. My firm, Christian A. Schwaner, P.C. helps those accused of DUI offenses in Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas. I will aggressively defend you against the charges you face, and together, we will work to get the charges against you minimized or dropped.
The crime of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two as established under Colorado Revised Statute § 42-4-1301 is customarily a misdemeanor but becomes a class 4 felony after three or more prior convictions.
Colorado enacted a law in 2015 making fourth drunk driving offenses (including combinations of DUI and DWAI convictions) felony offenses, and a new law took effect in August 2017 that requires all people convicted of felony DUI offenses to serve some term of incarceration. A 2016 review by the Denver Post found that judges were handing out “wildly different sentences” for habitual DUI offenders, with 30 percent receiving prison sentences but 8 percent serving no time whatsoever.
Drunk driving laws in Colorado are confusing, and any person who has been arrested for DUI or DWAI after having been previously convicted of a drunk or drugged driving crime is right to be concerned about the possible penalties they could be facing. In most cases, prosecutors will argue that the repeated violations show a clear disregard for public safety that merits imprisonment.
If you were arrested for DUI or DWAI in Colorado after having been previously convicted of drunk or drugged driving, it will be critical for you to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Make sure that you contact Christian A. Schwaner, P.C.
I will fight zealously to get your criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed. Call (719) 577-9700 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
What are the specific laws involved and how are they applied?
The drunk driving crime that a person is charged with will often depend on their breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Colorado Revised Statutes § 42-4-1301.1 is the state’s expressed consent law that establishes that any person who operates a motor vehicle in Colorado has consented to providing a specimen for the purposes of BAC testing. While people do have the right to refuse to such testing, there can be other penalties for a refusal.
A person is typically charged with DUI when they have a BAC of 0.08 or more, and such a BAC is considered “DUI per se” because the level is evidence of intoxication that affects the person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. A DWAI offense usually involves a BAC of 0.05 or more.
When a minor (person under 21 years of age) drives with a BAC of 0.02 or more but less than 0.05, it is a class A traffic infraction. A second or subsequent offense is a class 2 traffic misdemeanor.
The Colorado Department of Transportation states that state law specifies that drivers with five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their whole blood can be prosecuted for DUI, but officers can always base arrests on observed impairment. Evidence of drug impairment often comes through urine or blood testing, and these cases can be more difficult to prosecute because it is more difficult to demonstrate that a person was under the influence of the drug at the time of the offense unless there are particularly compelling observations from the arresting officer.
What are the penalties if convicted?
A first DUI conviction is punishable by a sentence of five days to one year in jail, a fine of $600 to $1,000, and/or 48 to 96 hours of community service. A first DWAI conviction is punishable by a sentence of two days to 180 days in jail, a fine of $200 to $500, and/or 24 to 48 hours of community service.
Any second or third DUI or DWAI offense is subject to the same possible punishments, which include:
- Second DUI or DWAI — 10 days to one year in jail, fine of $600 to $1,500, and/or 48 to 120 hours of community service.
- Third DUI or DWAI — 60 days to one year in jail, fine of $600 to $1,500, and/or 48 to 120 hours of community service.
A fourth DUI or DWAI becomes a class 4 felony. The presumptive sentencing range for a class 4 felony is two to six years in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000. Exceptional mitigating circumstances could reduce this range to one year in prison, but exceptional aggravating circumstances could also double the maximum to 12 years in prison.
Colorado now requires convicted felony DUI offenders to serve 90 to 80 days in jail, even when they are sentenced to probation. A person must serve 120 days to two years in jail when a work-release program is a part of their sentence.
How We Can Help
Do not assume all BAC test results are valid. If a law enforcement agency did not properly maintain its testing equipment in compliance with strict state standards, all test results during the period could be declared invalid and inadmissible in criminal cases.
Other unique factors in your case could also provide other defense options. What was the officer’s initial reason for the traffic stop? How were you informed about consenting to testing? Which field sobriety tests did the officer use?
All drunk or drugged driving cases involve several different complicating factors that can affect the types of evidence that a prosecutor will be able to use in presenting their case in court. A criminal defense lawyer can identify the weaknesses in a prosecutor’s case in order to mount a compelling defense. They may also be able to arrange an acceptable plea bargain, or get your charges dropped entirely.
Were you arrested for a second or subsequent DUI or DWAI in Colorado? Do not wait to seek legal representation. You will want to begin working with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
Christian A. Schwaner, P.C. will aggressively seek the most favorable resolution to your case that results in the fewest possible long-term consequences. I will provide you a thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (719) 577-9700 or contact me online.