Second-time DUIs in Colorado are misdemeanors carrying at least 10 days in jail, though the judge may grant you work release so you can keep your job. In addition, the DMV labels you as a persistent drunk driver (PDD) and revokes your license for one year, but you may get early reinstatement after only one month.
DUI 2nd penalties in Colorado
|10 days to 1 year
|$600 to $1,500 plus court costs and drug test fees
|48 to 120 hours
|Suspended jail sentence
|1 year (which kicks in only if you do not complete the other sentencing terms)
|2 to 4 years (which may require alcohol monitoring)
|Driver’s license revocation
|1 year, though you can apply for early reinstatement after 1 month
|Level II alcohol education and treatment
|24 hours of alcohol education and 68 to 86 hours of treatment
|Ignition interlock device (IID)
In this article, our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. Is jail time mandatory?
- 2. What if my past DUI was long ago or in another state?
- 3. Is a second DUI a felony in Colorado?
- 4. Is there a way to keep my license?
- 5. Will a second DUI make me a habitual traffic offender?
- 6. How much more serious is a second DUI than a first?
- 7. Can I get the case dismissed?
- Additional reading
1. Is jail time mandatory?
Colorado law requires a mandatory minimum of 10 consecutive days in county jail following a DUI-second conviction, and there is no “good time” credit you can use.1 However, if your prior DUI conviction occurred at least five years ago, the judge may grant you alternative sentencing instead such as house arrest.2
Note that if your prior DUI conviction occurred less than five years ago, the judge can still grant you work release. This allows you to serve your jail sentence intermittently while you maintain your employment.3
In our experience, Colorado judges like to impose jail sentences longer than the mandatory minimum – sometimes up to six months. Though we have a long track record of persuading courts to hand down the laxest penalties allowable under the law.
2. What if my past DUI was long ago or in another state?
It makes no difference. Colorado law considers all your past drunk/drugged driving-related convictions as “priors” no matter how long ago they occurred or whether they happened outside of Colorado.
It also does not matter whether your past conviction was for DUI, DUI per se, DWAI or something that exists only in other states such as DWIs or OUIs. Any conviction related to drunk- or drugged driving counts as “priors.”
3. Is a second DUI a felony in Colorado?
No. Second-time DUIs are only charged as felonies if someone gets seriously injured or killed. If that happens, the prosecutor would instead charge you with:
Note that even third-time DUIs are prosecuted as misdemeanors as well.4
4. Is there a way to keep my license?
Second-time DUIs in Colorado cause your license to be suspended for one year. However, we can fight the suspension at an express consent hearing: This is an administrative trial held at your local DMV office.
Keep in mind you have just seven days after your arrest to request an express consent hearing on the DMV website. If you miss the deadline, then the DMV automatically revokes your license.5
No matter whether you lose the express consent hearing or neglect to request one on time, Colorado law permits you to continue driving with one condition: You keep an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your car for at least two years.6
Note that if you refused to take a chemical test (a breath test or blood test) after getting arrested, the DMV tacks on an extra one-year license revocation. Also, you have to abstain from driving for two months before you can get the IID.7
5. Will a second DUI make me a habitual traffic offender?
Not necessarily. You get designated a habitual traffic offender (HTO) only when you commit three or more serious traffic offenses (such as DUIs) in a seven-year period. Being an HTO causes you to lose your license for five full years.8
6. How much more serious is a second DUI than a first?
First-time DUIs in Colorado carry laxer penalties. The minimum jail sentence is five days as opposed to 10, though oftentimes the judge will “suspend” it so you do no time at all.
In addition, the maximum fine for a DUI first is only $1,000 as opposed to $1,500 for a DUI second. Your license is suspended for only nine months as opposed to one year. Plus the maximum community service requirement is 96 hours as opposed to 120.9
7. Can I get the case dismissed?
Here at Colorado Legal Defense Group, literally thousands of clients have relied on us to defend them against second-time DUI charges. In our experience, the following three-pronged approach has proven very effective in getting these charges reduced or dismissed:
When building a case, we begin with compiling all the evidence available. This includes
- Identifying individuals who witnessed you on the day of the arrest and interviewing them
- Obtaining copies of any police photos, video, and audio evidence of the traffic stop
- Gathering information from the crime scene, including taking photos and video
- Requesting police arrest records and police equipment records
- Reviewing medical records and also mechanical records
- Gathering information about the incident scene, including traffic and also weather conditions
Filing Court Motions
Before the trial begins, pre-trial motions allow us to challenge the evidence against you. If we can convince the judge to suppress incriminating evidence in your case, the prosecutor may have no choice but to drop your charges before we even go to trial.
There are a number of legal reasons for keeping evidence out of court, for example:
- Police misconduct such as an illegal search
- Improper evidence handling
- Chemical test result errors
- Improper instructions for the field sobriety tests
- Medical issues leading to a false positive
- Police lacking reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop
- Police lacking probable cause to arrest you
Negotiating a Deal
In some cases, we may be able to negotiate a plea bargain to keep you out of jail and reduce your penalties. Many people facing criminal charges would prefer to accept a predictable and lighter sentence instead of taking their chances before a jury.
We know from experience how to interact with the prosecutor to negotiate the best deal you can get. Most drunk driving cases settle before they ever go to trial and with minimal penalties.
For more about Colorado DUI laws, refer to our informational articles:
- Does Colorado make you do DUI school? – An overview of your obligations regarding alcohol and drug education and therapy
- What is the community service requirement in connection with a Colorado DUI? – An in-depth look at your community service obligations
- Can I have guns if I’m on DUI probation in Colorado? – A discussion on how drunk driving affects your firearm rights
- I got a DUI in Colorado. How does the court process work? – An overview of the criminal and administrative procedures following an arrest
- Colorado DUI or DWAI with a child in the car – How courts handle drunk driving cases where a minor is a passenger
- Underage drinking and driving laws – The law and penalties for drivers under 21 caught driving with a BAC of .02% to .05%
- 20 ways to beat a Colorado DUI or DWAI – A comprehensive list of how to fight charges of driving under the influence
- CRS 42-4-1301; CRS 42-4-1307; see also Nickle v. Reeder (1960) 144 Colo. 593; see also Hofer v. People (Colo. 2006) 148 P.3d 487; see also People v. Lopez (Colo. App.) 521 P.3d 691. HB 21-1314. SB21-055. CRS 42-1-102(68.5); CRS 42-2-126(4)(d)(II)(A); CRS 42-2-132(2)(a)(II)(A); CRS. 42-7-406(1).
- Same. CRS 18-3-205. CRS 18-3-106.
- CRS 42-2-126.
- Same. CRS 42-2-132.5.
- See note 5. CRS 42-4-1301.1.
- CRS 42-2-202.
- See note 1.