I got a DUI. Am I going to jail?

As a defense attorney in Boulder, I get this question all the time. The short answer is: maybe. In some situations, Colorado law requires that a person serve jail time. For example, if a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over a 0.2, the law says they have to serve 10 days in jail, even if it's a first offense. If a person has a prior conviction for DUI or DWAI, no matter how long ago it was and no matter which state it happened in, Colorado says you have to serve at least 10 days in jail. If you have two or more prior convictions for DUI or DWAI, a person has to serve a minimum of 60 days in jail. These are just a few of the common mandatory DUI jail sentences.

Some people have asked me, "if the law requires me to serve a specific jail sentence on a DUI, what's the point of getting an attorney?" First, these are the minimum jail sentences, so just because the law says you have to serve at least 10 days, it could be much more; typically up to a year. Unless you have a specific agreement with the DA regarding the exact number of days you will serve, your sentence is up to the judge, and that is not a good place to be. If you've gotten a DUI in Boulder, you need a local DUI defense attorney who can tell you what the judge on your case will typically do. Second, keep in mind these jail sentences only apply if you're convicted. You may have a good case for a jury trial. For example, if your BAC was high, but there's no evidence you were ever driving the car. Or there is evidence that you consumed alcohol after you stopped driving. Or there might be a problem with the manner in which the blood or breath test was conducted. Or the police violated your constitutional rights during your encounter, and your attorney can fight to have certain evidence thrown out. These are all situations that I have encountered multiple times, but my clients would never have known about these defenses without an attorney. This is a common theme in my posts, but the DA and Judge will not tell you about this stuff. Only a defense attorney in Boulder who knows what they're doing can give you good advice.

But what if you don't want to go to trial, or you don't have any good defenses? An attorney can negotiate a plea bargain for you that may not require jail time. For example, I have gotten DA's to stipulate (agree) that a person's BAC was under a 0.2, so that there is no mandatory jail. If it sounds like a legal technicality, it's because it is. My clients' response is usually "wait - you can do that?". Yes, if you have a good lawyer, sometimes you can.

Other times we can't get around the mandatory jail time, but in some cases we can get the DA to agree that the sentence can be served as in-home detention (also known as electronic home monitoring) instead of serving actual jail time. That way, my clients can to go to work, get groceries, take their children to school - all while wearing a discreet ankle bracelet. For people who can't risk their employer knowing they are serving a DUI sentence, in-home detention can be a life-saver. But it's not easy to get. Not everyone is eligible for it, and the DA knows it is a much better deal than jail time, and they are reluctant to agree to it. But if you don't have a DUI defense attorney in Boulder fighting for it, you are almost certainly not going to get it.

Another option is called work-release, which allows a person to keep their job while still serving a jail sentence. This option is used more often than in-home detention. During the day, a person can go to work but they must return to the jail (or work-release facility) when they are not at their job. This is a valuable option for people who do not want to lose their income while they are serving their sentence. It allows people to continue paying rent and bills rather than losing their job, home, car, etc. Their employer must be on-board with it, however. And it costs money, so for people with low incomes, it may eat up a lot of their paycheck. But for a lot of people, the ability to keep their job makes it worthwhile.

The bottom line is this: although DUI law in Colorado mandates some very specific sentences, a good attorney can sometimes get around them and can help craft a deal that works best for you. In some ways DUI laws are very simple, and in other ways they are very complicated. There can be so much at stake in these cases, it's not worth it to try and figure it out on our own. Just to reiterate, the DA and judge can't help you, and can't tell you if your'e getting a good deal or not. Only your DUI defense attorney in Boulder can do that. Call me today so we can talk about your options.


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