After years of public and political pressure, Colorado joined the majority of other states last spring when Governor Hickenlooper signed a bill creating a felony driving under the influence (DUI) offense. Up until now, any Colorado DUI offense that did not involve aggravating circumstances could only be brought as a misdemeanor, significantly limiting the potential penalties to which drunk drivers could be exposed. Under the new law, a 4th lifetime DUI is a felony offense, potentially resulting six years in state prison and fines of up to half a million dollars. The law did not take effect immediately, however, and is set to do so on August 5th unless Colorado voters block the bill through a referendum.
Law gives judges considerable latitude
While the law authorizes much more serious penalties, it also gives judges considerable latitude in determining what sentence to impose. For example, it requires a judge to determine that incarceration is the most suitable option “given the facts and circumstances of the case” before sentencing someone to the department of corrections. Additionally, the court must decide that all other reasonable and appropriate sanctions have been exhausted, do not appear likely to be successful, or present an unreasonable risk to public safety.
An attorney can have a substantial impact on a DUI sentence
The fact that judges have discretion in imposing a sentence after a DUI conviction makes it highly advisable for anyone facing a DUI case to retain legal counsel. An experienced attorney who is familiar with handling DUI cases will present your case to the court in the way to which the court will be most responsive, and may also advise you to voluntarily engage in certain conduct in order to maximize your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome. For example, courts often acknowledge and consider the fact that person accused of drunk or drugged driving voluntarily seeks out treatment and is actively addressing any substance abuse issues that he or she may have.
A DUI conviction can have a significant impact on a person’s life. In addition to jail time, the following legal penalties are also possible:
- The installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
- Mandatory drug and alcohol education
- The loss of your driver’s license
In addition to these penalties imposed by the court, a DUI can also have a significant impact on almost every part of your life. The existence of an alcohol-related conviction on your record may make it difficult to get a job or have a detrimental impact on your reputation in your community.
Contact a Denver DUI defense attorney today to schedule a free consultation
Anyone who is facing a DUI case should contact an experienced attorney especially in light of this new law taking effect shortly. The attorneys of the Tiftickjian Law Firm are dedicated to protecting the legal rights of individuals who have been accused of drunk driving or other crimes. In most cases, the assistance of an experienced lawyer will have a significant impact on the disposition of a criminal case and mitigate the legal consequences defendants are facing. To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our Denver drunk driving attorneys, call the Tiftickjian Law Firm today at (303) DUI-5280.