Everything You Need to Know About a DUI and DWAI

The DUI process can seem scary at first, but don’t worry, thousands of people get arrested for DUI across the country each year. There will be steps you must complete, but a DUI is a temporary inconvenience, everything will return to normal soon. The most urgent matter is scheduling your Motor Vehicle Hearing with the DMV (which must be completed within a 7 days of the alleged incident in Colorado). This hearing is encouraged for the majority of people charged with a DUI and ensures that you do not automatically surrender your driving rights. After you schedule the hearing, you have a little more time to deal with each step.

  1. Motor Vehicle Hearing (~45-60 days from now - must schedule within 7 days)
    Schedule your Motor Vehicle Hearing through the DMV within 7 days of your arrest. This hearing is to decide whether or not you were under the influence of alcohol and if the DMV is going to revoke your license. The majority of people can expect to lose their license on the hearing date. An individual can potentially keep their license if their is an unusual issue, like the officer fails to follow protocol, or the police officer fails to show up to testify at the hearing. The benefit of scheduling a DMV hearing is that you’ll be able to drive up until the hearing date, which occurs about a month or two after scheduling it. If you’re in Colorado, call 303-205-5613 for more information regarding your specific case.
  2. Arraignment (~30-60 days from now – the date on your ticket)
    This is the first step of misdemeanor cases, and it involves the judge reading your charges and asking what your plea is. During the arraignment, you can plead “guilty” or “not guilty”. If you do not have an attorney representing you, you can ask the judge to delay the arraignment to give you time to obtain counsel. In the majority of cases, the client will enter a not guilty plea. If you have a lawyer, you may not need to appear in court, as your  lawyer will be able to enter a plea on your behalf.
  3. Pre-trial Conference (30-60 days after arraignment)
    The pre-trial conference is where a plea bargain can be negotiated with the deputy district attorney handling your case. Your attorney will be able to present evidence that helps you and ask for a certain plea bargain. In some counties, you may not need to appear.
  4. Motions Hearing (~30-60 days after pre-trial conference)
    If your lawyer has any issues with the case, they will address this issue at the Motions Hearing. An issue may be a piece of evidence that your lawyer believes should not be admissible at trial, such as a blood test result, or a statement from the accused or a witness. If the Defendant has had prior bad conduct, a motion may be filed asking the judge to order the prosecution not to discuss this information during the trial.
  5. Trial (held within six months of your plea)
    The trial is what people typically think it is. It involves the prosecutors, defendants, and the judge and is where your attorney presents your entire case. It is typically best for a trial by jury, where six members of the community sit on the panel and listen to all the evidence before making a decision of guilty or not guilty. Two principles protect the accused. First, the jury is instructed the presume, or believe, the accused is innocent at the beginning of the trial. Second, in order to convict a defendant, they must believe the evidence shows the individual is guilty of the crime, beyond a reasonable doubt.
  6. Sentencing (immediately after a plea or trial)
    If you plead guilty or are found guilty at trial, the judge will sentence you. Sentences can vary for DUI/DWAI based on blood alcohol content (BAC), number of offense (first offense is treated differently than subsequent arrests), driving (accidents are treated more seriously). Below is a chart [of the / showing the] range of penalties:


DUI Guilty Verdict in Colorado


1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense


Up to 1 year (DUI), or up to 180 days (DWAI)

Up to 1 year (DUI & DWAI)

Up to 1 year (DUI & DWAI)

Fines and Penalties

Up to $1,000 (DUI), or up to $500 (DWAI)

Up to $1,500 (DUI & DWAI)

Up to $1,500 (DUI) or up to $1,000 (DWAI)

License Suspension

9 months (DUI), none of DWAI

1 year (DUI & DWAI)

2 years (DUI & DWAI)

BAIID* Required




*Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device

DWAI With Previous DUI: Jail – 60 Days to 1 Year, Fine – $800 to $1,200, Public Service – 52 to 104 Hours

DUI With Previous DWAI: Jail – 70 Days to 1 Year, Fine – $900 to $1,500, Public Service – 56 to 112 Hours


If you found this article helpful, check out:

What To Do At DUI Checkpoints

Five Critical Mistakes Made In The DUI Process

Insurance After A DUI 

Tips to Win Your DUI Case


Need advice?
Revised: Feb. 11, 2016, 12:04 a.m.
Return to blog