Seeing the red and blue lights behind you after having a few drinks is scary. You may know you should have called Uber or a friend but decided to try to make it home on your own. Now, you may have to pay the price.
Unfortunately, DUI (driving under the influence) arrests aren’t uncommon in Denver. If you are arrested and charged with DUI, you may wonder, “Will I go to jail?”
You may go to jail for a DUI conviction. It is a possible penalty for DWAI and DUI convictions in Colorado. In some situations, jail time is mandatory. It is worth noting that jail time may also be served as work release for misdemeanor traffic DUIs, and house arrest or in-home detention are options for a first DWAI or DUI instead of jail time.
Understanding the law and your rights is the best way to navigate these scary and confusing charges. At the Law Offices of Stephen J. Pisani, our experienced Denver DUI lawyers can help you understand your options. Learn more about when you may face jail time and how our legal team can help with your case here.
Jail time is mandatory if you have prior DUI/DWAI convictions. Detention time is also mandatory if your BAC (blood alcohol content) is 0.20% within two hours of driving. For past convictions, receiving a second conviction in Colorado means a minimum of 10 days in jail, a mandatory sentence. You will face a mandatory 60 days in jail for a third DUI.
These are the basic laws for mandatory jail time in Colorado DUI convictions. However, there are aggravators and mitigators considered too.
If you take your case to trial and are convicted, the Judge may also give you a jail sentence. Aggravators include:
In some first-time DUI cases, active jail won’t be a part of the sentence. Instead, you may receive a suspended jail sentence. If you meet all the terms of your probation, you don’t have to go to jail.
In DUI/DWAI cases, you may receive a deferred sentence or probation for a certain amount of time to complete your sentence. One condition of probation for drunk driving convictions is to complete the terms that may take a few months up to a year to complete.
These terms include:
The alcohol class you are required to complete is determined by “Tracks.” This determines how many alcohol classes are required as a term of your probation.
For example, with Level II alcohol education, you must complete a 12-week program that you attend once a week for two hours a week. You are also required to cover the cost of the classes, which is usually $15 to $25 per class, but this varies based on the agency you choose.
Once the education portion is complete, your trace determines how many hours of therapy you must complete. The track requirements include:
You can determine the classes’ length by dividing the total hours of your track by two. This will be how many weeks you must go to complete the requirement. Therapy and education are both two hours a week. You will not be allowed to double up on the classes.
Hiring an attorney is recommended if you face DUI charges in Denver (or anywhere) in Colorado. Some of the ways an attorney can help with your case include:
Your lawyer will consider several factors to determine what they may be able to use as a defense in your case. Some options include:
The DUI lawyer you hire will review the arrest report to ensure the officer followed the rules and laws during your arrest. For example, if they pulled you over without cause or did not follow the procedure for arresting you, it may result in your charges being dismissed. The additional charges may be dismissed if the officer did not tell you that refusing a breathalyzer was a crime.
Your attorney may also review the blood or breath tests taken when you were arrested. If the breathalyzer machine was not maintained or the proper procedures were not followed in the lab, the test results may not be used as evidence against you. Also, your BAC goes up naturally over time. If your breath test was taken several hours after arrest, it may show a higher BAC than you had while driving. This means you may not have been over the legal limit when you were behind the wheel, so the charges against you may be dismissed.
If you are found alone in a vehicle, it is assumed you were driving. This is true even if you were sitting in the passenger seat. However, the prosecution must show you were driving with a 0.08% or higher BAC. If this is not proven, your charges can be dismissed.
The prosecution hopes you plead guilty before going to trial. They may also try to pressure you to take a deal. Negotiating with the prosecutor can be challenging, especially when considering the potential penalties of a DUI conviction. With a DUI attorney, you have someone to handle negotiations on your behalf.
Your attorney will work to find weaknesses in the evidence against you. They will use this to help negotiate a better deal.
Dismissal is not always a possibility. If this is your situation, your attorney may work to change the DUI charges to lesser charges. This is often possible if you are a first-time offender. Besides reducing the charges, your attorney may also be able to argue for reduced punishment, such as no jail time.
You may face jail time if convicted of Colorado DUI or DWAI charges. While true, hiring an experienced attorney may help you get reduced charges or a reduced penalty.
At the Law Offices of Stephen J. Pisani, criminal defense lawyers take pride in helping individuals fight criminal charges and protect their rights and freedom. The first step is to contact our office to schedule a consultation.