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When does a Colorado DUI offense become a felony charge?

Police officers observing popular roads may watch closely for signs of drunk driving and immediately intervene when they believe a driver is drunk. If the traffic stop affirms their suspicions, they will arrest someone for a criminal offense instead of just writing them a ticket.

Driving under the influence (DUI) may be one of the most serious traffic offenses, but it is typically a misdemeanor. Some people fail to treat a DUI charge as seriously as they should because of its status as a misdemeanor.

However, even misdemeanor DUI charges can carry serious penalties, and there are situations in which Colorado can charge you with a felony offense for an alleged impaired driving incident. When does Colorado law permit prosecutors to charge you with a felony impaired driving offense?

When there are multiple prior drunk driving offenses on your record

Repeat offenders who get arrested more than once for Colorado DUI offenses may eventually wind up facing felony charges. When you have three prior DUI charges, the fourth offense will be a felony in most cases. Not only do the penalties increase with each DUI arrest, but the charges themselves also become more serious.

When the driver causes injury to another person

Whether a drunk driver hits a pedestrian or causes a crash with another vehicle, they could find themselves facing a felony charge because they injured another person.

A driver accused of causing any bodily injury to someone else after an impaired driving incidence will usually face felony charges. State law also allows for a felony vehicular homicide charge, which is a felony offense, when a driver causes the death of another person because of chemical impairment at the wheel. Those accused of a felony DUI offense will have more reason than others to fight back aggressively against those charges.

Someone arrested for a second DUI may also want to aggressively defend themselves because if they get arrested again, they are potentially at risk of a felony charge. Learning the rules about DUI charges in Colorado can help you make better driving decisions and also prepare you to defend against charges in criminal court.