Second DUI/DWAI Offense in Colorado

The administrative and criminal penalties for a second DUI or DWAI in Colorado.

Colorado has three categories of impaired driving:

  • DUI. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both is called “DUI.”
  • DUI per se. Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more is called “DUI per se.”
  • DWAI. Operating a vehicle while “ability impaired” by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both is known as “DWAI.”

The difference between DUI and DWAI is a matter of degree: DUI requires proof of a greater level of intoxication than DWAI. For a more thorough explanation of how the offenses are defined, see our first offense article.

Administrative Penalties

License revocation. A driver is deemed to have given consent to a chemical test if there’s probable cause to believe the person is driving a motor vehicle in violation of the state’s impaired driving laws. Under the implied consent law, the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will revoke the license of any driver who has a BAC of .08% or more or refuses to take a chemical test.

If a test shows a driver’s BAC to be .08% or more on a second violation, the revocation is for one year. However, an offender can apply for a restricted license after completing one month of the revocation period. But if a motorist refuses to take a chemical test on a second violation, the suspension is for two years, and the person must complete two months of the revocation before becoming eligible for a restricted license. Prior to obtaining a restricted license, the driver must complete alcohol/drug education and a treatment program.

Ignition interlock devices. Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are required for all second offenders and as a condition for restricted license eligibility. For a BAC of .08% or more, the IID must be installed in all vehicles registered in the offender’s name for one year or the remaining revocation period, whichever is longer. And drivers who had a BAC of .15% or more or refused testing must hold the interlock-restricted license for two years following reinstatement.

Criminal Penalties

Second convictions for DUI, DUI per se, and DWAI are generally misdemeanors. An offender is considered to have a prior conviction if the person has previously been convicted of DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI in Colorado or another state. DWAI is typically considered to be a less serious offense, but once an offender has a prior conviction, the penalties for DUI, DUI per se, and DWAI are the same.

Jail. Second convictions carry a minimum sentence of ten days in jail and a maximum sentence of up to one year.

Fines and fees. The fine for second convictions is $600 to $1,500, plus court costs and surcharges. The judge can suspend part or all of the fine.

Public service. A person who’s convicted of DUI, DWAI, or DUI per se for the second time must complete a minimum of 48 to 120 hours of public service. Any person required to complete public service must pay a $120 fee.

License revocation. For a second conviction within a period of five years, the motorist is subject to a one-year license revocation. The offender can apply for an interlock-restricted license after one month of the revocation period has passed. The defendant is required to hold the interlock-restricted license for at least two but not longer than five years before being eligible for any other license.

The revocation imposed by the DMV for a violation of the implied consent law, as discussed above, and the revocation imposed for a conviction run concurrently. This means that both revocations are served at the same time, as opposed to being added together.

Probation. On a second conviction, the defendant is placed on probation for at least two years. Conditions of probation require that the defendant complete an alcohol and drug driving safety education or treatment program and submit to alcohol monitoring. An additional period of probation of up to two years can be imposed for the purpose of monitoring the defendant. A violation of probation can result in up to a year in jail.

Alcohol/drug evaluation and treatment. All DUI, DWAI, and DUI per se offenders must complete an alcohol/drug evaluation and the recommended treatment program. Generally, a judge is required to consider the evaluation before sentencing the defendant.

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