What to Expect From a Second DUI Charge

Ryan Robertson
By: Ryan Robertson
PublishedJan 8, 2024
4 minute read

Colorado has strict drunk driving laws. If you get charged with driving under the influence, a criminal background check will reveal whether you have a previous DUI conviction in this state or somewhere else. It doesn’t matter where your first DUI occurred. Your second will carry harsher penalties and stay on your record forever. Therefore it’s crucial to prevent a second charge from becoming a conviction. Here’s what to know about a second DUI charge in Colorado:

Prevent a second charge from becoming a conviction. Here’s what to know about a second DUI charge in Colorado

Facts About a Second DUI in Colorado 

Colorado takes DUI crimes seriously. Anyone accused of having committed a DUI after already having been convicted faces harsher penalties, and even less flexibility from the prosecutor and court.

Penalties and other considerations for DUI-related crimes are detailed in Colorado Revised Statutes 42-4-1307.

Some facts you should know:

  • One: Any drunk driving conviction, including a DWAI (driving while ability impaired), is considered a prior conviction.
  • Two: Colorado does not care where your prior DUI-related conviction occurred. If it took place in any U.S. state or territory, it’s part of your criminal record.
  • Three: When your prior DUI-related conviction happened also doesn’t matter. Your second DUI is your second DUI, whether your first was four days ago or four decades ago.
  • Four: A second DUI tags you as a “persistent drunk driver,” or PDD, in Colorado. I’ll cover what a PDD designation means in the penalty section of this article.

Penalties for a Second-Time DUI 

  • Jail: A second DUI requires at least 10 consecutive days in jail, with possible sentence up to one year.  Generally, a 30 day jail sentence is considered by the prosecution on top of any probation sentence.
  • Probation: You must fulfill at least two years of probation after a second DUI. Your probation could be revoked if you fail to abide by certain conditions.
  • Fines: You could be ordered to pay fines ranging from $600 to $5000. The court could suspend some or all of this during your probation.
  • Community Service: You must complete 48 to 120 hours of unpaid community service at an approved non-profit as part of your probation.
  • Victim Impact Panel: You must complete a two hour Victim Impact Panel.
  • Alcohol/Drug Classes: You’ll have to attend and participate in drug/alcohol education and therapy sessions. As a repeat offender, you’ll probably be ordered into the months-long Level II course.
  • License Suspension: Your driver’s license can be suspended for a year. You can challenge this suspension if you request an express consent hearing before the DMV within seven days of your DUI charge.
  • 12-Point License Hit: The DMV will assess 12 points against your driver’s license.

Persistent Drunk Driver Designation

There are four ways to get labeled a “persistent drunk driver” in Colorado. Getting a second DUI conviction is one of them. The other three ways are:

  1. Driving with a BAC of .15 or higher,
  2. Refusing to take a DUI chemical test after you’re arrested, and
  3. Getting caught driving on a suspended or revoked license after a DUI.

Once you’re designated as a persistent drunk driver, the state revokes your license until:

  1. You complete court-ordered Level II drug/alcohol treatment and education,
  2. You install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car, and
  3. Obtain proof of financial responsibility for insurance, also known as an SR-22.

Depending on the court’s orders, it could take four to ten months to complete the Level II education courses, and you’ll be stuck with an ignition interlock device and SR-22 requirements for even longer — a minimum of two years.

IID and SR-22 

An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer connected to your car’s ignition. If it detects alcohol in your breath, your car will not start. It costs around $100 to install the device and $50 to $75 per month in maintenance fees.

An SR-22 is a document your auto insurer files with the DMV. Missed premium payments can prompt the DMV to revoke your license. Keep in mind that after a second DUI conviction, your premiums will be considerably more expensive.

Collateral Consequences of a Second DUI 

Colorado DUI convictions, including guilty pleas, will affect your record from youth to old age. The consequences can also have long-lasting effects on your:

  • Insurance: Your auto insurance rates may increase significantly or even double. You  might even be denied coverage by well-known carriers, necessitating the use of predatory, high-risk insurers.
  • Employment: You could lose your current job after a second DUI. A conviction can also hinder future employment in various professions of trust. These can include education, healthcare, law practice, finance, faith-based work, the military, or roles requiring security clearance.
  • Travel: Traveling abroad, especially to Canada, becomes even more difficult after a second DUI. You could also find it near-impossible to rent a car.

What Counts First? The Offense or the Conviction? 

Can pleading guilty to a second DUI before resolving an earlier case make both count as the first offense? The Colorado Supreme Court recently ruled on such a gambit.

People v. Woodside (2023) 

In 2021, Woodside committed two DUI offenses between August and November. However, he resolved the cases in reverse order, so that he was convicted for his second offense first. When Woodside pled guilty for the August DUI, he nevertheless sought first-offense penalties. The court refused, holding that his prior conviction subjected him to second-offense penalties for the August DUI.

Woodside appealed the ruling, and the high court examined the matter in May of 2023. The court sided with the trial judge, saying:

“The plain language of Colo. Rev. Stat. § 42-4-1307(5)(a) does not require that conduct underlying a second offense pre-date conduct underlying the first. It requires only that a defendant have a relevant prior conviction at the time of sentencing for the second offense.” — People v. Woodside (Colorado, 2023)

Fighting Against a Second DUI Charge 

One DUI conviction is more than enough. If you’ve messed up, or feel you’ve been unfairly stopped, arrested, and charged, get legal assistance.

An aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney can challenge:

  • Probable Cause: Police need a legitimate reason to stop and arrest you. If they lacked probable cause at either juncture, your case could be dismissed.
  • BAC Test Results: Breathalyzer and blood tests must adhere to strict protocols. Inconsistent results or flaws in these procedures can ruin the prosecution’s case.
  • Rights Violations: Did you know police must let you choose between a breathalyzer or blood draw after arresting you? It’s true. If they failed to give you the choice, they’ve undermined their case. This goes for any breach, including unlawful searches, failing to read your Miranda rights, and more.
Plea Bargaining 

Pleading guilty means admitting to a crime, which is rarely advisable. Plea bargaining, however, involves negotiating with the prosecution for reduced charges or penalties in exchange for a guilty plea. This could help you avoid the worst aspects of a second DUI conviction.

Get an Experienced DUI Lawyer 

You are innocent until proven guilty. Remember that. At Robinson & Henry, we have experienced defense attorneys who will fight for you. We know this is a stressful time for you. Don’t take it on by yourself. If you’ve been charged with DUI or DWAI, take a positive step now. Call 303-688-0944 for your case assessment.

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