Can I Go to Jail for a DUI?

scales of justice

The short answer is yes, you can go to jail for a DUI. Initially, there are two (2) types of jail. Firstly, there is jail after the arrest. Secondly, there is a jail sentence after pleading guilty or being convicted at trial.

As a general rule, there’s no mandatory incarceration at the time of your actual DUI arrest; at that point, they’ll only put you in jail long enough to process you and then release you for your next Court date.

There can be extenuating circumstances, such as a situation where someone died in an accident, you have multiple DUI’s, etc. In cases like that, things may be different. This blog post addresses jail after an arrest.

A DUI Conviction May Result in Jail Time

A DUI is a traffic misdemeanor, and always has the possibility of a jail sentence after a conviction. In Boulder, CO., judges generally do not give jail sentences on a first offense. On a second or multiple offenses, jail becomes mandatory.

Depending on how much time there was between offenses, you can sometimes serve a jail sentence by alternative means, e.g., you don’t have to actually be in jail. There is home detention, work release, day reporting, etc. If your last offense was less than five (5) years ago, these alternative sentences are not available. Obviously, the Court will look at a myriad of factors in determining the length of the sentence. If you’ve had enough prior convictions, your DUI can actually be a felony, and you could be looking at prison time.

Say you’re pulled over and you blow a .081 (meaning that your blood alcohol concentration [B.A.] is .081% when the legal limit in Colorado is .08 for DUI. Colorado has a lesser offense of DWAI, and the limit for that is .05). If you were stopped because you were going five mph over the speed limit, you were respectful to the officer, and it was your first offense, you will generally not be looking at a jail sentence.

Additionally, the blood alcohol can affect a jail sentence. If your B.A. is greater than .2, your jail sentence is mandatory. The higher the B.A., the more dangerous the Judge feels you are to the general public, and the more likely it is that you will get a longer jail sentence. A high B.A. generally communicates to the Judge that you have a high tolerance for alcohol, e.g., you have a serious problem.

I’ve had many judges tell my clients, “I’d be passed out if my B.A. was that high.”

How Long Will the DUI-Related Jail Sentence Be?

When determining the length of your jail sentence, many factors will be considered: how serious was your offense? Was there an accident? Was anyone hurt? How many prior offenses do you have? How recent was your last offense? Did you receive alcohol treatment, and then went out and drove while drunk anyway? How high was your BAC? What was your attitude toward the police? Did you try and take a swing at the cop? You’ll get more jail time for that.

What Happens After Jail?

Once you have served your sentence, you will be released with the following possible/probable restrictions:

  • You’ll be on probation for 12-24 months.
  • You may have monitored sobriety, meaning that you will be ordered to consume no alcohol and be subjected to random testing.
  • You may be required to complete hours of community service.
  • With every DUI or DWAI conviction, you will be required to undergo an evaluation and complete any required treatment.

Paying Court costs and fines, doing community service, being under probation and undergoing alcohol evaluation and treatment are all required by statute in Colorado. The Court will frequently say that the probation department will determine whether or not it’s necessary to have a prohibition against drinking, etc.

Every DUI Case is Different

Like I always say, every case is different. While jail is always an option for the judge, it’s not necessarily inevitable depending on the details of your situation. As a general rule, jail only becomes mandatory without the possibility of alternatives if it’s a multiple offense, and especially if it occurs within a short period of time.

If you’re dealing with a DUI or DWAI, don’t go it alone. Hire an attorney to guide you through the process and help you achieve the most favorable possible outcome. Call our office today at 303-449-1873 for a complimentary consultation.

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