When Is A DUI a Felony In Colorado?

Colorado takes DUI charges seriously, and so should you. Under what circumstances is your DUI a felony in Colorado? What penalties do you face if convicted?
Monday, 14 June 2021
When Is A DUI A Felony In Colorado When Is A DUI A Felony In Colorado

A Felony DUI Conviction Can Haunt You Forever

All Colorado drunk driving charges are serious, but when the circumstances or your previous offenses make your DUI a felony in Colorado, you face consequences that can upend your life for years to come.

A conviction for felony DUI in Colorado can put you behind bars, suspend your driving privileges, cost you thousands of dollars in fines, and leave you with a criminal record that will follow you forever. That is why hiring an experienced Colorado DUI defense attorney is so critical if El Paso County prosecutors decide that the law and the facts of your case make your DUI a felony in Colorado.

What Is a Colorado Felony?

The State of Colorado divides criminal offenses, including driving under the influence, into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. While both charges are serious, the biggest difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is the potential length of time behind bars involved. 

As the “lessor” of the two charges, a Colorado Springs misdemeanor conviction for DUI can result in a maximum of one year of incarceration, served in a county or local jail here in El Paso County

If you’re convicted of a felony DUI and are sentenced to serve time, you will likely be sentenced to over a year behind bars which you will spend in one of Colorado’s 21 state prisons.

Additionally, Colorado law divides felony offenses into six classes. Each class is based on the relative “seriousness” of the crime as well as on other factors such as past criminal history or the unique circumstances of the offense. The more serious the felony class, the lengthier and costlier the possible sentence. (Class 1 felony convictions have more serious consequences than a Class 6 felony conviction.)

Felony DUI v. DUI As a Misdemeanor

Most first-time DUIs in Colorado that do not involve injury or death are prosecuted as misdemeanors. Likewise, second and third DUI convictions are normally misdemeanors, although the punishments for each subsequent DUIs are harsher. But if you are charged with a fourth DUI and/or if you hurt or killed someone while driving under the influence, prosecutors will likely charge you with a felony. 

Related: Hiring A Felony Lawyer In Colorado Springs? 5 Questions You Need To Ask

DUI Is a Felony In Colorado If A Person Is Injured or Killed

Whether a DUI is your first or your fourth, prosecutors will seek to convict you of felony vehicular assault if you were responsible for a serious bodily injury to another person while driving in an impaired state. DUI-related vehicular assault is a Class 4 felony in the State of Colorado and can result in a prison sentence of two to six years, mandatory parole for three years, and fines ranging from $2,000 to $500,000.

Similarly, if you killed someone while driving drunk, you will face felony charges of DUI-related vehicular homicide. As a Class 3 felony, a vehicular homicide conviction comes with penalties that include four to 12 years in state prison, five years of mandatory parole, and a fine of between $3,000 and $750,000.

Fourth DUI Is An Automatic Felony

If you face charges for a fourth DUI, El Paso County prosecutors will view you as a habitual offender and will treat you as such. In fact, in 2015, Colorado passed a law that makes a fourth or subsequent DUI offense – regardless of whether anyone was injured or killed, a Class 4 felony. 

And, unlike some neighboring states. Colorado’s felony DUI law does not contain a “look-back” provision, limiting how far back prosecutors can look when tallying up the number of DUI convictions. It will not matter how long ago the previous DUI convictions occurred. Even if your first three DUI convictions were decades ago, they will still count and you will face the possibility of a felony conviction. 

Similarly, it doesn’t matter if your prior DUI convictions were in Colorado or not.  A DUI conviction in another state will count as a prior DUI conviction in Colorado for purposes of felony DUI charges. Colorado takes driving under the influence seriously, and so should you. 

Don’t Face The Consequences Of A DUI Felony In Colorado By Yourself

Your life hangs in the balance when prosecutors make your DUI a felony in Colorado.  Trying to go it alone when facing such charges can make your bad situation even worse. Colorado Springs felony DUI defense attorney James Newby uses the insights and experience he gained as a former DUI prosecutor to protect the rights of individuals charged with felony DUI. Attacking every aspect of the prosecution’s case, he aggressively and strategically fights the allegations against his clients to put them in the best position to obtain a positive outcome.

Read More From Our Colorado DUI Defense Blog:

What Is A “Wet Reckless” Charge And Is It Better Than a DUI?

Can You Get A DUI Off Your Record In Colorado?

Top DUI Lawyer Questions In Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs Criminal Defense Attorney James NewbyCall us (719) 247-2700

Or click to email us for a free consultation with Colorado Springs Criminal Defense Attorney James Newby.

James Newby Law
128 S Tejon St #402
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Office Hours: M-F 8:30am - 5:00pm
Appointments available 24/7