If you are facing a DUI investigation or charge, you may feel that you already know the basics of what’s at stake: in Colorado, DUIs are often misdemeanors, meaning a conviction may mean you must pay a fine, lose your license for a time, and complete court-ordered probation. However, if a DUI is prosecuted as a felony, the consequences can be much greater.
When is a DUI a felony?
These legislative changes are affecting more and more people: according to the Colorado Judicial Branch’s annual report, the number of felony DUIs has been increasing over the past few years, by nearly 15 percent from 2016 to 2017 alone.
It is crucial to understand the circumstances under which a DUI could be a felony. Though the state ultimately retains discretion around how to prosecute a DUI, there are a few things they will consider:
- The number of DUIs you have had. Legislation passed in 2015 made a fourth DUI, and any subsequent ones, felonies. The prior DUIs do not have to have been in Colorado.
- If your DUI hurt someone. If your DUI resulted in an injury or death, the state will prosecute it as a felony.
The mandatory sentencing rules around felony DUIs mean that a conviction is much more likely to result in jail time, and could result in prison time depending on the circumstances. If you are potentially facing a DUI charge, it is crucial to involve an attorney as early as possible to get the best possible chance at a good outcome to your situation.