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What is the statute of limitations for DUI in Colorado?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Feb 03, 2020 | 0 Comments

The statute of limitations for Colorado DUIs and DWAIs depends on the case. Under 16-5-401 C.R.S., the time-limit for the D.A. to bring criminal charges is:

  • 18 months for misdemeanors,
  • 3 years for felonies, and
  • 5 years for DUI with death and leaving the scene of the accident

Once the statute of limitations passes, the suspect is usually immune from criminal charges. But if the suspect is outside of Colorado, the statute of limitations tolls (pauses) for up to 5 years.

1. Misdemeanor DUI / DWAI penalties

DUI and DWAI are typically prosecuted as misdemeanors. The sentence increases with each successive conviction.

A person is guilty of DUI per se by driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08%. It makes no difference if the driver was not impaired. (DUI is short for driving under the influence.)

DUI charge

Colorado penalties

First-time

  • 5 days – 1 year in jail;
  • A fine of $600 – 1,000;
  • Driver's license suspension of up to 9 months; and
  • 48 – 96 hours of community service.

Jail is mandatory if the defendant's BAC was at least 0.20%

Defendants with a BAC of at least 0.15% will be sentenced as a repeat offender.

Second-time

  • 10 days – 1 year in jail;
  • A fine of $600 – 1,500;
  • Driver's license suspension of up to 1 year;
  • 48 – 120 hours of community service; and
  • Ignition interlock device for 2 years following license reinstatement

Third or subsequent time

  • 60 days – 1 year in jail;
  • A fine of $600 – 1,500;
  • Driver's license suspension of up to 2 years;
  • 48 – 120 hours of community service; and
  • Ignition interlock device for 2 years following license reinstatement

Defendants typically face DWAI charges if their BAC is between 0.05% and 0.08%. (DWAI is short for driving while ability impaired.)

DWAI charge

Colorado penalties

First-time

  • 2 days – 180 days in jail;
  • A fine of $200 – 500;
  • 24 – 48 hours of community service; and
  • 8 points on the DMV driving record

Jail is mandatory if the defendant's BAC was at least 0.20%

Second-time

  • 10 days – 1 year in jail (with a minimum 10-day mandatory sentence);
  • A fine of $600 – 1,500;
  • 48 – 120 hours of community service; and
  • 8 points on the DMV driving record

Third or subsequent time

  • 60 days –  1 year in jail (with a minimum 10-day mandatory sentence);
  • A fine of $600 – 1,500;
  • 48 – 120 hours of community service; and
  • 8 points on the DMV driving record

2. Felony DUI penalties

Defendants face felony DUI penalties if they have three prior DUI-related offenses or if the incident caused serious injury.

Felony Drunk/Drugged Driving Conviction

Colorado Penalties

A fourth-time DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI (42-4-1301 C.R.S.)

Class 4 felony:

  • $2,000 – $500,000 in fines; and/or
  •  2 – 6 years in Colorado State Prison with a mandatory 3-year parole period

DUI causing serious injury / vehicular assault (18-3-205 C.R.S.)

Class 4 felony:

  • $2,000 – $500,000 in fines; and/or
  •  2 – 6 years in prison with a mandatory 3-year parole period

DUI causing death / vehicular homicide 18-3-106 C.R.S.)

Class 3 felony:

  • $3,000 – $750,000 in fines; and/or
  • 4 – 12 years in prison with a mandatory 5-year parole period.

3. DUI defenses

Ten common defenses to drunk or drugged driving charges include:

  1. The police pulled over the defendant with no probable cause.
  2. The police did not give proper instructions for the field sobriety test.
  3. The breathalyzer was defective.
  4. The police mishandled the breathalyzer.
  5. The blood test sample was contaminated.
  6. The police waited too long to take a chemical test.
  7. The person who tested the blood was not certified.
  8. The person who calibrated the breathalyzer was not certified.
  9. The high BAC number was caused by a medical condition.
  10. The high BAC number was caused by rising blood alcohol.

Ultimately, the D.A. must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defense attorney can raise this reasonable doubt, the charge may be dismissed.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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