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Top 5 things to know about felony DUIs in Colorado

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Colorado takes a strict stance when it comes to repeat impaired or intoxicated driving offenses. While it used to be that drivers with three or more drunk driving convictions would get a misdemeanor charge for a fourth, all of this changed a few years ago. Now, repeat impaired or intoxicated drivers face much harsher sentencing and a potential felony conviction. 

No. 1: A fourth DUI or DWAI is a felony

If you have been convicted of impaired or intoxicated driving three separate times in the past, your fourth time will be charged as a felony.

No. 2: The penalties for a felony DUI or DWAI are more severe

It used to be that a fourth time DUI could mean up to a year in jail. But now that it is a felony-level charge, a conviction could mean possible prison time - two to six years. If probation is part of a person's sentence, the new law still requires serving 90 to 180 days in jail. And if work release is part of a person's sentence, the new law requires serving 120 to two years in jail.

Time behind bars is also on top of expensive fines and having a criminal record that now includes a felony. Having a felony on your record can greatly reduce your chances of finding a job and can impact everything from educational opportunities to housing possibilities.

No 3: Public service will be a part of the sentence

A fourth time DUI is also a guarantee for mandatory public service hours, somewhere between 48 to 120 hours of service.

No. 4: Time behind bars is a big part of the felony DUI law

Make no mistake about it: Many lawmakers and prosecutors will want to see you serve a significant jail or prison sentence if you have been arrested for drunk driving in the past. That's a big part of the reason for the strictness of the law. The idea is that if someone is behind bars, they will no longer pose a threat to the safety of other people.

For someone facing a fourth time DUI, this is a hard pill to swallow. This speaks not only to the criminal consequences side, but the social consequences and what having a felony DUI on a criminal record means to someone's reputation.

No. 5: Felony DUI law really highlights the need for a lawyer

The sheer potential consequences of a felony-level DUI speak volumes to why someone would need an attorney. This is the type of criminal charge that can literally change the trajectory of someone's life, so it is imperative to understand what you are up against and what legal options and creative solutions may be available.

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