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Can you get a deferred sentence in a Colorado DUI?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Sep 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

Some Colorado judges give first-time DUI defendants the opportunity to get their cases dismissed via a deferred judgment in Colorado (C.R.S. 18-1.3.-102), thought their criminal defense attorneys have to fight for it.

Deferred judgments are like probationary periods where defendants complete various court orders -- such as abstaining from alcohol and submitting to blood tests -- in exchange for getting the charge dismissed at the end of the probation. In practice, judges typically grant deferred judgments in cases involving minor traffic offenses, public intoxication, or drug possession. But it may be possible to persuade a judge to grant a deferred judgment to defendants charged with the Colorado crime of driving while under the influence.

Colorado DUI penalties

Driving while drunk or high is usually a Colorado misdemeanor. Without a deferred judgment, penalties for a first-time conviction include:

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

Note that defendants with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15% or higher will be designated a persistent drunk driver (PDD) and will be sentenced as if they were repeat-offenders. 

Penalties for a second DUI conviction include:

  • 10 days to 1 year in jail,
  • A fine of $600 to $1,500,
  • Driver's license suspension of up to 1 year,
  • 48 to120 hours of community service, and
  • Ignition interlock device for 2 years following license reinstatement

Penalties for a third DUI conviction include:

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

Colorado DWAI penalties

Driving while ability impaired (DWAI) is also a misdemeanor in Colorado, but it carries lesser penalties than DUI.

Without a deferred judgment, a first-time DWAI carries: 

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

A second-time DWAI carries:

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

A third-time DWAI carries:

  • 10 days to one year in jail (with a minimum 10-day mandatory sentence),
  • A fine of $600 to $1,500,
  • 48 to120 hours of community service, and
  • 8 points on your DMV driving record

Colorado DUI and DWAI defenses

It may be possible to get a Colorado DUI or DWAI charge dismissed completely on the merits -- and therefore avoiding the need for a deferred judgment. The most common defenses to drunk or drugged driving charges include:

  • the breath or blood testing equipment was faulty
  • the police had no probable cause to arrest the defendant
  • the people who performed the blood or breath tests were not properly certified
  • the defendant had a medical condition that caused inaccurately high BAC levels
  • the defendant had "rising blood alcohol," and the defendant's BAC was perfectly legal at the time of the driving but only increased to illegal levels later on during the test

If the defense attorney can persuade the prosecutors that they have insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the case should be dismissed.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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