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If you have a fourth DUI conviction, is jail time mandatory?

Colorado is serious about keeping drunk drivers off the road. The penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol are harsh.

Not all DUI convictions are misdemeanors. A fourth DUI offense is a felony, and you could spend time behind bars.

A little history

Prior to 2015, every DUI or DWAI charge was a misdemeanor. Therefore, if law enforcement arrests you for a fourth time, you may not be unduly concerned about the outcome, but you should be. State laws have changed, and a fourth DUI conviction is a Class 4 felony punishable by two to six years imprisonment and a hefty fine. The court could order probation, but that also comes with jail time, as outlined in HB17-1288 passed by the Colorado legislature in 2017.

Time in the county jail

If the court orders probation, the defendant must still serve between 90 and 180 days in county jail. He or she will receive credit for time served but will not qualify for “good-time” deductions in the sentence or for “trusty prisoner” status. Alternative sentencing would require the defendant to serve 120 days to two years in county jail, but only for certain reasons.

Probation requirements

Other requirements for probation include 48 to 120 hours of useful public service, plus completion of an alcohol treatment program or driving safety education at the defendant’s expense.

In your defense

If law enforcement arrests you for driving under the influence of alcohol, explore your legal options promptly. Your defense team will perform a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding your arrest, first, to find out if the officer had sufficient cause to stop you, and then to learn whether there were errors associated with field sobriety or breath tests. Expect and examination of your record. If a judge dismissed any of your three prior DUI convictions, the court could reduce the current felony charge to a misdemeanor, taking heavier penalties and the possibility of jail time off the table.

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