To discourage driving under the influence, Colorado has adopted stiff penalties for those convicted—even if this is your first offense.

If you’ve been arrested driving after drinking or doing drugs, you should consult with a DUI attorney for information about how to fight your charges.

Colorado’s First Offense DUI Penalties

Jail Time

According to the state statute, 42-4-1307, first-time DUI offenders face a minimum of five days in the county jail and up to one year in jail. However, a judge can suspend this minimum if you agree to the following conditions of the suspended sentence:

  • You undergo a pre-sentence drug and alcohol evaluation
  • You complete all financial obligations deemed appropriate by the evaluation

Additionally, you can be sentenced up to two years of probation for a first-time offense. During probation, the judge can put restrictions on you, such as requiring you to get drug or alcohol treatment.


Colorado imposes financial penalties on first-time DUI offenders. In particular, you must pay a fine ranging between $600 and $1,000. The judge also has discretion to suspend this fine.

Community Service

First-time offenders must perform at least 48 hours of useful community service up to a maximum of 96 hours. Unlike with fines, the law does not give judges discretion to suspend this penalty.

Suspended License

If this is your first offense, your license will be suspended for a minimum of 9 months. If you refused to take a chemical test after being stopped, then your license will be suspended for a year.

Also, your license will be automatically suspended after your arrest if you do not request an administrative hearing within 7 days.

Are You Really a “First-Time Offender”?

What Was Your BAC?

Even though this might be your first arrest for DUI, you will face stiffer penalties if your BAC was .15% or higher. In this situation, you are deemed a “persistent drunk driver,” even if this is your first arrest. According to the 42-2-126(4)(d)(I)(A), you will need to complete a Level II alcohol treatment program and install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for two years before you can get your license reinstated.

Do You Have Prior Convictions?

In spite of being picked up for the first time for DUI, you might be surprised that you are not being charged as a first-time offender. For example, Colorado counts other drunk driving offenses in Colorado and from other states, including:

Consider the following examples:

Amy is picked up for DUI in Colorado in 2018. She has a prior DUI conviction from Virginia in 2016. Because of that prior conviction, she is not a first-time offender in Colorado.

Michael is stopped for DUI in 2018. In 2017, he had a conviction for DWAI. Because of that prior DWAI conviction, he is not a first-time DUI offender.

Ben is stopped for DUI in Colorado in 2018. In 2015, he was convicted of driving with a revoked license in Wisconsin. Because of this prior conviction, he is not a first-time DUI offender in Colorado.

Picked Up for DUI? Legal Help is Available

Colorado’s tough DUI laws can disrupt your life, especially if you are pressed for money or time. If you can’t afford to spend time in jail or to pay fines, then you should consider hiring a skilled DUI attorney to fight the charge.

Even if you do not think the penalties are serious, any conviction could result in even greater penalties going forward should you get picked up again.

At the office of Miller Leonard, PC, our team has taken some of the toughest DUI cases around. To schedule a consultation, please contact us today.


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