Drunk driving is no joke in the state of Colorado, which ranks among the strictest for penalties against impaired drivers. Like other states, Colorado has its share of tragedies related to drunk driving, and despite its reputation for pushing the boundaries, Colorado lawmakers frequently pass legislation tightening the penalties against those who drive under the influence.

Even a simple, first-offense DUI can result in severe penalties, including fines, the suspension of your license and potential jail time. However, there may be other circumstances that increase the seriousness of the offense and enhance the penalties you face.

What are enhancements?

Sentence enhancements occur when the court determines that your actions were especially egregious or presented a significant risk to the safety of others. If such conditions existed at the time of your arrest for DUI, you may face an increase in the time your license is suspended, a higher fine or even a mandatory jail sentence. Some examples of factors that may lead to enhanced sentencing if convicted for DUI include the following:

  • You have a child in the car while driving under the influence.
  • You cause an accident that damages someone else’s property.
  • You are driving with a previously suspended license.
  • You have an open container of alcohol in the vehicle.
  • Your DUI results in bodily injury to someone else.
  • You are driving with a blood alcohol content of .20 or higher.

One common way to receive sentence enhancements is for subsequent DUIs. If you already have DUI convictions on your record, repeat offenses can quickly escalate the consequences, including mandatory time in jail.

Your options

Even with a first offense, any of these elements may result in enhanced sentences, which can complicate your life in many ways, financially, personally and professionally. You risk losing your job if you lose your license or must spend time in jail, and you may place your family in financial straits due to the increased fines.

The best way to avoid enhanced penalties is to always designate a sober driver when you know you will be drinking. You have many options to get home safely, including ridesharing and cabs. However, if you do find yourself facing the harsh consequences of a DUI with the potential for enhancements, you have rights. One of those rights is the quality representation of a skilled attorney who can evaluate the evidence against you and work to limit the negative consequences.