What Is the Lookback Period for a DUI in Colorado?

Categories: DUI Defense

lookback period dui

Note: This post was last updated on February 23, 2023.

Some states deploy a lookback period for DUIs. The lookback means that after so many years pass after a DUI conviction, the prior DUI conviction would not be considered when you are charged with subsequent offenses.

Colorado, however, is not one of those states. Without a statute in place that lists a lookback period, the courts can and will consider any past DUIs – even if they are decades apart. A DUI you incur in your 20s could still come back to haunt you in your 50s when it comes to potential penalties. This fact makes it even more critical that you hire a criminal defense attorney.

What Is a Lookback Period and Why Does Pitkin County Not Use Them?

Lookback periods are a period in which criminal offenses are not considered as priors. For example, a state with a 10-year lookback would not count a past DUI as a “first” offense if the second occurs 12 years later. Most states employ lookback periods of 7 to 15 years.

If offenses occur within the lookback period, the prior offense is associated with the subsequent offense. Therefore, if you live in a state with a ten-year lookback, you could face a second offense of DUI if you receive a second conviction in that ten-year period.

Some states do not have an outright lookback period, but they do have specific laws in place to prevent a person from facing harsher penalties when the time frame is too significant. Colorado works differently and uses a rule of five years for consideration – but also will consider out-of-state DUIs.

How Colorado DUI Lookback Periods Work

There are three facts to know when it comes to Colorado’s lookback periods: the five-year rule, out-of-state violations, and time past.

  • When DUIs are within five years of each other. If your two DUIs are within five years of one another, they will be associated together and you will receive harsher penalties. Therefore, the courts do consider convictions in that five-year period, and you will have longer jail sentences and most likely higher fines. For instance, if you are facing a second offense within 5 years of a prior DUI offense, you will face ten (10) days minimum jail with no jail alternatives possible.  If your second offense is beyond five years, you will face ten (10) days minimum jail but might be subject to jail alternatives.
  • The state does consider other state offenses. Colorado does count DUIs from different states against you when they consider the sentences. For example, if you have a DUI in another state that uses the Interstate Driver’s License Compact (IDLC) – which Colorado also uses – then the courts will use that prior conviction when considering what to charge you with.
  • When DUI offenses are too far apart. Should you be facing a second DUI conviction, the Court will often not place too much emphasis on a prior conviction that is decades apart.  However, if you are facing a third offense, then no matter how old your prior convictions are, they will be used against you. For instance, on a third offense, no matter how old, you will face a minimum mandatory sixty (60) day jail sentence. A skilled criminal defense attorney is therefore pivotal.

What Penalties Can You Face?

Because there is no official lookback period, you are at risk for harsher penalties any time you are convicted of a second, third, or subsequent DUI.

A second DUI in Colorado can result in:

  • Up to 1-year imprisonment
  • A fine of up to $1,500
  • A driver’s license revocation for 1 year
  • The use of an ignition interlock device upon license reinstatement

If you are convicted of a third or subsequent offense, you could face:

  • Up to 1 year of prison
  • A fine of up to $1,500
  • A driver’s license revocation of up to 2 years
  • Be required to use an IID upon license reinstatement

Do Past Convictions as a Juvenile Count?

You may assume that if you were convicted of a DUI under the age of 21 you could escape that DUI from being used against you. In Colorado, anyone under the age of 21 can be convicted of an underage DUI if their BAC is 0.02 or more at the time of the arrest.

Even if your first DUI happened when you were 17, that DUI would still count as a first offense if you are charged with another once you are over 21.

Can You Refuse a Test to Avoid a Second DUI?

You might assume that refusing to take a chemical test would prevent you from facing the harsh consequences of a second or subsequent DUI – but you would be wrong. Refusing to take the test could still result in a conviction for a DUI, because your refusal can be used as an admittance of guilt.

Furthermore, to drive in Colorado, you are under implied consent. Refusing a chemical test will result in fines and an automatic driver’s license suspension – no matter the outcome of your criminal case. You could have your license suspended for one to three years just for refusing a test.

Hire an Attorney for Your Potential DUI

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI – whether it is your first, second, or more – you need an attorney. Contact attorney Mark R. Rubinstein, P.C. to receive an aggressive defense. You want a successful and fair outcome to your case, and you want to avoid facing the penalties of a subsequent DUI.

Everyone deserves a zealous defense, and no one should have to face harsher penalties for a mistake he or she made decades ago. To avoid becoming a state example, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Schedule a consultation today at 970-704-0888, or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

Mark Rubinstein

Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Colorado. He founded Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., in Carbondale after working for law firms in Denver and earlier in his career in San Diego. He focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury representation, and he is well known throughout western Colorado as an effective and unwavering advocate for his clients.