Colorado DUI Laws, Fines, and Consequences

Learn about the penalties for impaired driving convictions in Colorado.

In Colorado, there are three categories of impaired driving:

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

Under the influence. A person is considered “under the influence” if substantial impairment affects the person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. If a defendant’s BAC is .08% or more, it’s inferred that the person was under the influence of alcohol.

Ability impaired. “Ability impaired” means the person is only slightly impaired. A defendant is presumed to be DWAI if a chemical test shows a BAC of more than .05% but less than .08%.

Driving a vehicle. For purposes of Colorado’s impaired driving laws, “drive” and “drove” mean to exercise “actual physical control” over a vehicle, even if it’s not actually moving. Under that definition, a person can be convicted of DUI, DWAI, or DUI per se without actually driving a vehicle.

Penalties Imposed for Convictions

An impaired driving arrest typically leads to administrative (license related) penalties. And if the offender is convicted of DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI in court, there are also criminal penalties imposed in addition to the administrative consequences.

Criminal Penalties

The criminal penalties imposed depends on whether the defendant is convicted of DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI. Generally, penalties are less severe for a first DWAI conviction than those imposed for DUI or DUI per se convictions. However, once an offender has a prior conviction, the penalties for DUI, DUI per se, and DWAI are the same.

Additionally, penalties typically increase depending on whether the offender has prior impaired driving convictions. The chart below details the minimum and maximum penalties for first, second, and third DUI, DUI per se, and DWAI convictions.

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

Jail

5 days to 1 year (for DUI and DUI per se convictions)

2 days to 180 days (for DWAI convictions)

10 days to 1 year

60 days to 1 year

Fines

$600 to $1,000 (for DUI and DUI per se convictions)

$200 to $500 (for DWAI convictions)

$600 to $1,500

$600 to $1,500

License Revocation

9 months (for DUI and DUI per se convictions)

1 year (if the second conviction is within 5 years)

Indefinite period of revocation (but can apply for reinstatement after 2 years)

Ignition Interlock Device

8 months (for DUI and DUI per se convictions)

2 to 5 years

2 to 5 years

Public Service

48 to 96 hours (for DUI and DUI per se convictions)

24 to 48 hours (for DWAI convictions)

48 to 120 hours

48 to 120 hours

Administrative Penalties

Colorado’s “expressed consent” law requires all drivers to submit to breath, blood, saliva, and/or urine testing if there’s probable cause to believe the person was in violation of the DUI laws. Motorists who refuse testing face the following license revocation periods:

1st Offense

2nd offense

3rd Offense

License Revocation

1 year

2 years

3 years

Generally, a BAC of .08% or more is deemed a failed test. Motorists who fail a chemical test face the following license revocation periods:

1st Offense

2nd offense

3rd Offense

License Revocation

9 months

1 year

2 years

Other Penalties Imposed for Impaired Driving Convictions in Colorado

All DUI, DUI per se, and DWAI offenders must complete an alcohol/drug evaluation and the recommended treatment program. The offender is usually responsible for all fees associated with treatment.

For second and subsequent convictions, the defendant is placed on probation for at least two years. Conditions of probation typically require the offender to complete alcohol and drug driving safety education and a treatment program. The offender is also required to submit to alcohol monitoring and two more years of probation can be imposed for additional monitoring. A probation violation can result in up to a year in jail.

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