How Do Deferred Judgements Work in Colorado DUI Cases?
Posted By: Jacob Martinez
Operating a motor vehicle in Colorado under the influence of, while impaired from, or with an excessive internal alcoholic content all fall under the umbrella of “Driving Under the Influence,” or DUI.
There are a number of penalties in place for violation of DUI law in our state, including the requirement to pay a fine, report to a probation officer, complete counseling, and perform community service. However, under certain circumstances you may be granted a deferred judgement.
What does this mean and how does it work compared to traditional sentencing?
At the most basic level, deferred judgement is a way for you to avoid criminal sentencing in exchange for compliance with a period of probation. Upon successful completion (without violation) your charge may be dismissed without a conviction being entered.
Where’s the catch? You have to qualify. An experienced Denver DUI attorney can review your charging documents to determine whether you meet the requirements for deferred judgement, but before you dive in, you should understand both Colorado DUI laws and how deferred judgement works.
Colorado DUI Laws in a Snapshot
There are three general laws in our state’s DUI statute:
- “Per Se” BAC limit is 0.08%
- “Aggravated DUI,” which permits enhanced penalties when BAC reaches 0.17% and beyond
- “Zero Tolerance” prohibits any driver under 21 from drinking
Also note that when you apply for your driver’s license, you are granting “implied consent” for law enforcement to administer chemical tests to determine your impairment when there is reasonable suspicion you are under the influence.
Deferred Judgement Is Different Than Regular Probation in Colorado
When you’ve been granted probation, it was in conjunction with a conviction and a jail or prison sentence. Even if you never stepped foot inside a jail or prison, if an employer asks, for instance, whether you’ve been convicted of a criminal offense, you will still be legally obliged to answer yes.
When the court defers judgement, the judge does not find you guilty. He or she defers – or holds off – on finding you guilty in order to monitor whether you comply with the conditions of your probation.
So, when you’re in that job interview, you can confidently say that you have not been convicted of a DUI offense.
The Offense Stays on Your Colorado Record
In our state, when all probationary conditions are met, your guilty plea will be withdrawn and the charge will be dismissed with prejudice. However, this does not mean the offense completely disappears.
All information related to your case, including factual allegations upon initial charges, remain public record. For many offenses, only unless and until they are sealed and expunged will the offense be unavailable to the public.
Unfortunately, due to the element of public harm associated with drunk driving, alcohol and drug related offenses are not eligible to be sealed. Colorado courts may also consider your prior DUI deferment as a conviction for enhancement purposes.
Ultimately, if you do violate the terms of your deferred judgement, the court will likely grant a conviction and impose a traditional sentence, often opting for the maximum penalty – jail time and fines.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.