The sentence for a DUI conviction will be based on several factors. Of course, the more prior convictions you have for driving under the influence, the more likely you will be sentenced to jail for a current offense. Other factors that determine your sentence include:
- Your blood alcohol level
- Whether there was a traffic accident, and whether it was your fault
- Whether anyone was injured
- Whether you were driving recklessly
- Steps taken since your arrest to address your alcohol or drug use
- Your demonstration of remorse and taking responsibility
First time offenders do not usually get sentenced to jail unless there are "aggravating factors," such as a high BAC, or an accident that causes injury. The chart below shows the possible penalties for first and second DUI offenses in Colorado:
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Your jail sentence can be greater than one year in length if you are convicted of other charges along with your DUI, since the sentences for each offense can be added together, or "run consecutively."
In addition to deciding whether you will have to serve a jail sentence, the judge will also decide how many community service hours you will be required to do, how long your probation will be, and how much alcohol or drug therapy you must complete. Fines, court costs, fees, surcharges, and probation costs are excessive.
In some cases, Denver area judges will allow you to serve a jail sentence on electronic monitoring, sometimes called "in-home detention." This is a more likely possibility in Denver than in other counties, as Denver County judges tend to be more lenient than judges in other Colorado counties, and are less likely to issue a sentence to the Denver County jail. However, on second or subsequent offenses, the chances of being given in-home detention decrease.
Another option available to the judge is to sentence you to jail, but authorize "work release." This means that you would be incarcerated at night, but be allowed to go to your normal job during the day. Generally, if the judge authorizes work release, he will increase the total number of days you must serve — to compensate for the leniency of allowing you to leave jail on a daily basis.
The penalty you will face with respect to your driving privilege is determined by the Colorado DMV, not the criminal court. For more information regarding the effect of a DUI and license suspension, please visit our DMV section.