What Are the Penalties for a First-time Drunk Driving Charge?

It might be tempting for a Denver-area resident not to take a drunk driving charge too seriously if it is her first time in the criminal justice system. After all, many people go through life with a DUI and seem to get along fine.

The temptation might be for a person just quickly to plead guilty in order to get the process over with.

While resolving a drunk driving case might ultimately be the best option, it is usually not a good idea to be too hasty when deciding to do so.

First-time Offenders Will face Traffic-related Penalties

The penalties even for a first-time offense are significant. A first-time DUI will lead to administrative suspension of one’s license for 9 months.

The suspension remains the same whether a person faces a DUI because of a blood or breath test that registered .08 or over BAC or because his other behavior gave prosecutors enough evidence to prove a DUI charge.

Additionally, the Colorado Department of Revenue will assess 12 points to the accused’s motor vehicle record.

In Colorado, a person may face a DWAI charge if officials cannot prove a DUI. A person may face a DWAI if she registers .05 BAC on an official blood or breath test or if her other actions suggest that she wasn’t able to drive her vehicle as well as she would have been had she not been drinking.

The good news is that there is no immediate license suspension for a first-time DWAI. However, the accused will have 8 points assessed on her motor vehicle record.

First-time Offenders May go to Jail

The criminal penalties for DWAI and DUI are slightly different as well. However, in both cases, a person might have to pay fines and fees, attend counseling, perform community service, or even go to jail.

For a DWAI, a person may go to jail for between 2 and 180 days. The jail penalty for a first-time DUI is 5 days to 1 year.

There Are Other Possible Consequences to Drunk Driving Convictions

Even when jail is off the table, though, Denver residents should still be aware of other consequences. For one, a person will have to live with a criminal conviction on his record.

In some trades and professions a conviction can lead to loss of one’s license or other penalties.  Professional drivers, in particular, may face serious additional penalties after drunk driving, even if the offense was in a personal vehicle.

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