Every day, Colorado DUI attorneys tell clients that they should not worry about time on a first DUI conviction. That observation no longer holds true in many circumstances. If you are convicted of DUI in Colorado, you most certainly can go to jail.
Sentencing on a first-time DUI or DWAI varies from county to county. While judges seek consistency in sentencing, especially in drunk driving cases, there is no uniformity among judges or counties. A first DUI without an excessive BAC or accident in most metro counties, such as Adams County and Denver County, will likely lead to a probation sentence without any jail time. Judges suspend jail sentences on the condition that the defendant is compliant throughout the term of probation.
An example where jail is common on first offenses is Clear Creek County. For a first DUI conviction, you can expect around 5 days of county jail time in addition to probation. The county court judge typically sentences defendants to a weekend in jail (two days) for a DWAI. Gunnison County is also a jurisdiction where it is common to go to jail for a DUI, even if you have no prior offenses.
Jail on a first offense is becoming more common in Colorado. Defendants without a criminal history have been sentenced to jail in courts in Arapahoe County and Jefferson County recently. The trend is to treat drinking and driving cases more seriously, and judges face voting for retention from the residents of the county. The general public always looks upon a tough stance on DUI favorably, as most people do not understand how serious the penalties for a first DUI can be.
Often overlooked in criminal defense blogs and editorials about DUI sentencing is the consequences for vehicular assault and felony vehicular homicide. If you are convicted of DUI and someone was seriously injured or killed as a result of your actions, you face years, if not decades in prison. Furthermore, the guilt that you face internally can never be overcome.
If you wish to avoid a jail sentence in Colorado for a DUI conviction, the best way to go about it is to drink responsibly, and never mix excessive consumption with driving. In addition, stoned driving is also prosecuted under Colorado’s DUI laws, so a positive marijuana blood test can also lead to a jail sentence, at least in some Colorado courts.