Mandatory Jail Sentences for a DUI/DWAI in Colorado
Under Colorado Revised Statute § 42-4-1301, any person convicted of DUI commits a misdemeanor while any person convicted of DWAI commits a class A traffic infraction. In Colorado, the maximum penalty for any misdemeanor is a fine for $1000 and up to one year in jail. While courts rarely sentence people convicted of misdemeanors to extended jail sentences, DUIs are the exception. People with multiple DUI convictions are routinely sentenced to 6 months in jail, and many times receive the maximum year in jail.
Even for 1st offenses, Colorado has established mandatory minimum jail sentences for all DUI and DWAI offenses. For a DUI wherein a person a has a BAC of over .08, there is a mandatory jail sentence of 5-10 days which is usually suspended contingent on the completion of an alcohol treatment program. For a 2ndoffense DUI, or a 1st offense DUI with a BAC of over .19, there is a mandatory jail sentence of 10 days – 1 year which can also be stayed on the completion of an alcohol treatment. It’s important to note the amount of discretion the court has in a 2nd offense DUI; defendants in similar situations could reasonably be sentenced to no jail time or to a full year in jail, and anywhere in between. Therefore, it’s imperative to consult an attorney if you are being charged with a DUI, the results could be life changing.
Mandatory Minimum Prison Sentences being decided in the Colorado Legislature
The Colorado Legislature is currently deciding whether to institute mandatory minimum prison sentences for alcohol related vehicular assault (C.R.S. § 18-3-205) and alcohol related vehicular homicide (C.R.S. § 18-3-106) under proposed HB14-1158. This is most worrisome for people charged with vehicular assault. Currently, if a person commits vehicular assault, it is classified as a Class 5 felony but gets bumped up to a Class 4 felony if the person was driving with a BAC over .08. To commit vehicular assault, a driver must injure another person while driving recklessly. If the person is driving under the influence of alcohol, it is presumed that they are driving recklessly. Therefore, under the new bill, the court would be required to sentence the person to at least four years in prison and not have the option to sentence the driver to probation or parole in lieu of that prison time. This means that if a person is in an accident and under the influence of alcohol, they will be serving at least four years in prison if they are convicted.
If you have been charged with a DUI, DWAI, or vehicular assault in Colorado it is vital that you seek the advice on an experienced attorney. Mandatory jail or prison sentences can result in life changing consequences like being fired from your employment, crippling your finances, and facing the humiliation from other people in the community. Call the attorneys at Peter Loyd Weber and Associates today at (720)863-7755 for a free consultation, and we can start working to protect your rights.