Lawyers Discuss DUI Penalties in Colorado
Do you know what the penalties are for a misdemeanor drunk driving conviction? Do you know what they are for a felony DUI conviction or for a repeat offense?
If you have been charged with intoxicated driving, you are in jeopardy of facing:
- Large Fines: You risk losing hundreds, even thousands of dollars in fines
- Jail Time: Repeat offenses come with mandatory minimum jail sentences
- Driver's License Suspension: You may lose your driving privileges or face a severe depletion of Colorado driver's license points
- Increased Insurance Premiums: The amount you pay for car insurance may increase
- Criminal Record: A conviction for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will remain on your record, where it may be seen by future employers, lenders, and more.
Colorado drunk driving law sets heavy penalties for drivers who are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs (DUI). These include jail time, community service, and fines. While these costs can be steep, the costs of a DUI arrest or conviction can extend far beyond the penalties set by the court. When all is said and done, a DUI may cost as much as $10,000, according to a recent MSN Money article.
The costs of a DWAI or DUI begin with a person's arrest on suspicion of either of these offenses, even if the person has not been convicted. The Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles has the power to suspend the driver's license of any person arrested for either of these reasons. To get their license back, the driver will have to pay a reinstatement fee of $95.
In some cases, the driver may also have to show proof of an SR-22 insurance certificate or have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on the car before the driver can get their driver's license back. Both an SR-22 and ignition interlock device installation mean additional costs, sometimes in the hundreds of dollars.
In addition to the SR-22 requirement, the driver's auto insurance rates may go increase-up to four times the amount the driver currently pays, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. Some insurance companies won't continue insuring a driver at all, but will drop the person, leaving them to shop for new auto insurance with the burden of a DWAI or DUI charge or conviction in the way. New auto insurance can be prohibitively expensive, but a driver who decides to skip these costs by no longer driving may still have to pay for public transportation costs, such as bus or cab fares.
The costs of a DUI conviction also include fines that a person may have to pay. In the state, these amounts range from $200 to $1500, depending on whether a person is convicted of DWAI or DUI and the person's prior criminal record, if any. Drivers who are classified "high BAC offenders" or "persistent drunk drivers" due to having a BAC of 0.17 or above will also be required to take alcohol education or therapy classes-at the driver's expense. Court costs, bail amounts, fees for victim's compensation and other court-run funds, and other costs round out the hefty bill that comes with a DUI or DWAI conviction.
Property damage can occur in many different ways. Often, it occurs when a driver's car crashes into another person's car, a fence, or a house. A car that leaves the roadway due to an accident or because the driver loses control may also cause property damage. Property damage may or may not occur in an accident that also causes injury or death. A person suspected of a DUI that causes injury or death, however, is more likely to face charges under vehicular assault or vehicular homicide laws in Colorado.
In Colorado, property damage may lead to a criminal charge if it falls under one of two categories. If it appears that the person being charged knowingly destroyed or damaged another person's property, the charge may be one of "criminal mischief." The penalties for criminal mischief depend on the value of the property damaged. If the knowing destruction of another person's property, or property owned by both the driver and another person, is combined with a drunk driving charge, the crime may be charged as a Class 3 or Class 4 felony, with penalties ranging from two to 14 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines, depending on the value of the property damaged and the circumstances of the case.
Other types of property damage, including property damage resulting from a driving under the influence accident that wasn't intentional, can also result in a felony charge that includes both the DUI and the property damage that the suspected intoxicated driver is believed to have caused. Drivers who are convicted of a DUI causing property damage face strict penalties including jail or prison time, heavy fines, and mandatory community service, probation, or parole sentences. They may also be required to pay court costs and restitution to the owner of the property, in order to "pay back" the amount of damage the court finds the driver has caused.
Finally, a driver who is suspected of driving under the influence and causing property damage may be charged with a felony if they are classified as a "habitual traffic offender" or if the driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.17 percent or higher when the property-damaging accident occurred. A "habitual traffic offender" is someone who has repeated drunk driving convictions or other traffic violations on their record. Even if the property damage is minor, the prosecutor might choose to file felony DUI charges if they believe the driver's previous record warrants them.
At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., we will take the time to educate you about the penalties you are facing. We will consult with you about any options that are available to minimize the impact or to have your case dismissed.
You should not just sit back and accept the penalties you are facing for intoxicated driving. You should explore possible defenses and contact our Colorado Springs drunk driving defense lawyers.
- When Do DUI Offenders Have to Wear SCRAM Devices?
- Penalties You Face for a Colorado Springs DUI Charge
- DWAI Penalties in Colorado
- Punishments for a Felony DUI Charge in Colorado
- SR-22 and Insurance Information