Colorado DUI Laws: FAQ

What terms are used for Colorado drunk driving offenses?

A person arrested for drunk driving in Colorado will be charged with either Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) or Driving While Ability Impaired (“DWAI”). The difference between the two charges depends on your a drivers BAC (Blood Alcohol Content). You will be cited for DWAI in Colorado if you drive with a BAC greater than 0.05 but less than 0.08. However, you will be cited for DUI if you drive with a BAC of 0.08 or greater.

Is drinking and driving a crime in Colorado?

It is not a crime to drink and drive in Colorado. However, you may not legally drive if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) has exceeded the maximum percentage allowed under Colorado law.

Can I refuse to take a chemical sobriety test when stopped on suspicion of drunk driving in Colorado?

Not without potentially losing your license. Under the principle of express consent, every driver has consented to a blood, breath, urine, and saliva test when stopped by a law enforcement official on suspicion of DUI or DWAI. Refusal to take a chemical test is admissible in court and a basis for a separate charge which can lead to revocation of your driver’s license.

What are the penalties for a drunk driving convictions in Colorado?

The penalties for a first DUI conviction in Colorado include:

  • 9 month suspended license,
  • Jail Time (5 days to 1 year),
  • Fines of $600-$1000, and
  • 48-96 hours of public service.
The penalties for a first DWAI conviction in Colorado include:
  • No license suspension,
  • Jail Time (2-180 days),
  • Fines of $200-$500, and
  • 24-48 hours of public service.
Penalties for a 2nd DUI/DWAI conviction in Colorado include:
  • 12 month suspended license,
  • Jail Time (10 days to 1 year),
  • Fines of $600-$1500, and
  • 48-120 hours of public service.
Penalties for a 3rd DUI/DWAI conviction in Colorado include:
  • 24 month suspended license,
  • Jail Time (60 days to 1 year),
  • Fines of $600-$1500, and
  • 48-120 hours of public service.
However, if you are convicted a 3rd DUI/DWAI, within 7 years of your first conviction you will face a mandatory 5-year license revocation under the "habitual traffic offender" statute.

What are the drunk driving penalties for a driver under 21 in Colorado?

The penalties for a 1st  drunk driving conviction for a driver under 21 with a BAC greater than 0.2 but less than 0.5 include:

  • 3 months suspended license,
  • A $100 fine and
  • Up to 24 hours of public service.

The license suspension increases to 6 months for a second similar conviction and a year for a third conviction.

If you are under 21 and convicted of driving with a BAC of 0.05 or greater your penalties will be similar to the penalties for adult drivers. Additionally, if you are under 21 and are caught with alcohol in your car you will automatically have your license revoked.

Can I get my jail sentence reduced or suspended after being convicted of DUI/DWAI in Colorado?

Yes, in some cases (althought the facts for every defendant may vary and it will depend on the judge). You may be able to get a lesser sentence if you agree to undergo an alcohol treatment program.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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