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When a DUI becomes a felony

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol may lead to serious consequences. In Colorado, the courts do not look kindly upon offenders who continue to drive while impaired.

Colorado courts give drivers the benefit of the doubt on their first DUI charge and offer remediation, fines and some measure of brevity. However, when that same driver continues to drink and drive, the ramifications worsen. At what point does a DUI become a felony in Colorado, and what does it mean for anyone convicted?

Classifications of impaired driving

There are three classifications of an intoxicated driving charge. Drivers under 21 with a measurable amount of alcohol in their blood (.02) are subject to a UDD, or underage drinking and driving charge. For those 21 and older, the classification of the charged offense depends on BAC. A person’s charge is DUI if the BAC content is .08 or more. Anyone with a BAC of .05 to .079 is a DWAI or driving while ability impaired. DUI and DWAI convictions may become felonies.

DUI misdemeanor convictions

A DUI sentence depends on the driver’s BAC and any prior convictions. A first-timer is subject to fines, up to a year in jail, community service and a license suspension. If convicted a second time, the driver is subject to the above. Plus, he or she must install an ignition interlock device in the car. A third conviction raises license suspension and ignition interlock times to two years. A judge may also add education classes and increase fines.

Felony DUI

Recently, Colorado’s legislature changed the law to make a fourth DUI conviction a felony offense. This comes with not only enhanced penalties but also mandatory incarceration. A person with three DUI convictions from anywhere in the country may now have to serve up to 180 days in jail and, perhaps, go to prison. The reasoning for this change was to create more of a deterrent for repeat offenders. The legislature felt the laws needed revisiting due to the high number of crashes and fatalities caused by drunk drivers every year.

Finding yourself in a jam with the law over a DUI charge may cause great concern. It is beneficial to speak with an attorney who can help.

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