Third DUI Offense in Colorado

The administrative and criminal penalties for a third DUI in Colorado.

Colorado’s DUI laws prohibit a person from operating a vehicle:

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

DWAI is the lesser of these offenses, requiring proof of only a slight degree of impairment. If a chemical test shows a BAC of more than .05% but less than .08% (get an estimate of how many drinks it takes), a defendant is presumed to be DWAI. DUI requires proof of a substantial impairment that affects the person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. DUI per se means that the driver’s BAC was .08% or more at the time of driving or within two hours after driving.

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 Colorado’s DUI 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 and it’s the person’s third or subsequent violation, the revocation is for two years. However, an offender can apply for a restricted license after one month of the revocation period has passed. If a motorist refuses to take a chemical test on a third or subsequent violation, the revocation is for three years. The offender can apply for a restricted license after driving privileges have been revoked for two months.

Ignition interlock devices. Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are required for all third offenders as a condition to becoming eligible for a restricted license. 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. If a test discloses a BAC of .15% or more or if the driver refused a test, the offender must have an IID installed for two years after reinstatement.

Criminal Penalties

Third convictions for DUI, DUI per se, and DWAI are generally misdemeanors. An offender is deemed to have a prior conviction if the person has previously been convicted of DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI in Colorado or another state. There is no “lookback” period, which means that a prior DUI from any date is considered a prior conviction.

Jail. Third convictions carry a minimum sentence of 60 days in jail and a maximum sentence of up to one year.

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

Public service. A minimum of 48 to 120 hours of public service is required if a defendant is convicted of DUI, DWAI, or DUI per se for the third time. Any person required to complete public service must pay a $120 fee.

License revocation. On a third conviction, a defendant’s license will be revoked for an indefinite period. 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 years, but not longer than five years, before being eligible for any other license.

After two years, the defendant’s license may be reinstated upon proof of completion of an alcohol and drug education and treatment program. The driver must also demonstrate knowledge of laws and driving ability through the normal license testing process.

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. For a third conviction, the defendant is placed on probation for at least two years. Conditions of probation require completion of an alcohol and drug driving safety education or treatment program and the defendant may be required to 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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