Driving under the influence (DUI) in Colorado can have serious consequences. The most extreme of them – DUI-related deaths – cannot be taken lightly: According to a Denver Trial Lawyers report, from 2013-2019 in 15 Colorado counties, more than 900 people lost their lives because someone took the wheel when they shouldn’t have.
In addition to criminal charges and fines, the drivers must deal with the knowledge that their actions claimed a parent, child, valued co-worker or loved friend.
Even when there’s not an accident, a person charged with DUI can experience significant, life-affecting consequences.
To begin with, he or she faces administrative and criminal penalties.
Here are two examples:
- A first-time DUI violation, a misdemeanor, carries criminal penalties starting with five days in jail, a $600 fine and 48 hours of public service, and administrative penalties of license suspension for nine months and 12 points against the license.
- In Colorado, a fourth-time DUI violation is a felony crime whether or not someone was injured or killed and even if the other violations occurred in other states. The driver faces a minimum two-year prison sentence, three years of parole, up to 120 hours of community service, a two-year license suspension and 12 points against the license.
There are costs to DUI that are separate from the judicial system, such as higher insurance premiums and alternate transportation. Car payments continue even if a driver’s license is suspended. Altogether, the state of Colorado estimates that first-time DUI costs exceed $13,000.
Probation: What It Is and Why It’s Important to Follow the Rules
Under probation, people convicted of breaking criminal law are permitted to live in their communities if, and only if, they meet several court-ordered requirements. In Colorado, a pre-trial probation can be ordered while the accused driver is awaiting his or her day in court, and state law requires a probationary period for any DUI conviction, which can last from two years for a first-time offense and up to six years.
While the terms of each DUI probation is unique to its case, here’s generally what to expect:
Most people convicted of a DUI will be supervised by a probation officer, whose job it is to both make sure the terms of probation are followed and to protect the public. (An unsupervised probation, in which the driver is accountable directly to the court, is granted very rarely.)
Probation check-ins typically occur once each month, with a $50-per-meeting supervision fee either included in court costs or separately charged. It is important to keep every scheduled appointment with the probation officer, even if it means following up multiple times by phone or email to contact him or her. There can be significant job turnover among probation officers, so a driver might have two, three or even more different officers during their probationary period.
A person convicted of DUI might be required to complete any or all of the following:
- Attend Required Meetings
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panels: Speakers discuss how a drunk driver affected them or their families, such as through the death of a loved one or the impacts of a permanent injury.
- DUI Class: While Victim Impact Panels typically focus on personal stories, Colorado DUI Classes are educational and/or therapeutic programs supervised by the state.
- Pay Fines, Fees and Court Costs
- A DUI conviction can be costly, depending on the specifics of his or her case. Among the fines and fees, to name just a few, could be required payments for the Victims Compensation Fund, alcohol treatment evaluation testing, court costs and the Law Enforcement Assistance Fund.
- Take Random Drug Tests
- A random urine test can be required at any time during DUI probation. The 8-panel urinalysis typically used tests not only for alcohol, but also cannabinoid (THC), methadone, cocaine, opiates and other drugs. Failing a test can result in probation being revoked and a return to jail.
- Perform Community Service
- The Colorado Alternative Sentencing Programs department monitors community service hours required for probation. The probationer pays to participate and is assigned to a program (he or she cannot choose their own community work). There are no “buy outs” for community service hours.
It is very important to fulfill each requirement of probation and to do so on time. When any of the court-ordered rules are not met – even unintentionally – or the probationer commits another crime, he or she can be sent to jail and face a probation violation charge.
Who Can Help?
The state of Colorado has a duty to protect public safety and thus, conducts special DUI enforcement campaigns such as Heat is On, which according to the Denver Post resulted in more than 8,000 arrests in 2018. Each and every day, police officers can pull a suspicious driver over and test for substance impairment.
Not every DUI arrest, however, results in a conviction. The difference can be who represents the accused driver. Some people try to represent themselves in court, or they retain the family lawyer who handled their real estate transactions or drew up their will.
Another option — attorneys who are well-versed in Colorado DUI law and understand the complexities of the breathalyzer equipment, what police officers are – and are not – permitted to do or ask during DUI stops, and how to best represent someone accused of DUI before the court. If there is a conviction, the DUI lawyer Brighton will negotiate the best probationary terms possible and represent the defendant if irregularities arise during probation or if a probation violation occurs.
An Attorney On Your Side
John A. Anderson is committed to providing all of his clients with the best legal representation possible. He understands how upsetting it can be to face criminal charges, including DUI. His thorough knowledge of Colorado criminal law and experience in the courts are two of the many reasons to trust him with your case.
If you’ve been charged with DUI, contact his office at (303) 880-7994 to learn more about his practice.