Driving under the influence (DUI) in Colorado is a serious offense, and depending on your specific circumstances, it might turn a misdemeanor into a felony. Knowing exactly how many DUIs constitute a felony can help keep you safe and informed when driving in Colorado.
In Colorado, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Colorado DUI laws begin with the presumption that driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher constitutes a per se violation, while a BAC less than .08 might still be considered a DUI if other evidence suggests impairment. Colorado also has laws in place to keep impaired drivers off the highways and restrict their future freedom to do so.
Generally, a first-time DUI offense in Colorado is usually considered a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail along with other penalties such as fines, probation, and license suspension or revocation. However, multiple DUI offenses or extreme circumstances can lead to increased punishments such as felony conviction.
A felony DUI is a more severe version of a DUI offense that carries more serious consequences. In Colorado, typically a fourth or subsequent DUI can be charged as a felony, although depending on extenuating circumstances, a third DUI may also be considered a felony. Felony DUIs can result in extended jail sentences of up to two years and larger fines than misdemeanors.
The penalties for a felony DUI in Colorado can be severe and include fines up to $500,000, up to two years in prison, Mandatory Alcohol Driving School program attendance (typically from 6-24 months), one year of supervised probation, community service, participation in victim/offender dialogue programs, possible vehicle seizure or license suspension for up to five years.
Whether a DUI is charged as a misdemeanor or felony will be determined by several factors. These include the number of prior DUIs on your record, the amount of alcohol in your system, whether you caused any property damage or injury to others while driving under the influence and whether you have any prior convictions related to serious traffic offenses. In Colorado, if you have two or more prior DUIs that occurred within seven years of the current offense, it will likely result in a felony charge.