DUI Penalties in Colorado

Colorado DUI laws

Each State in the United States is given the authority to write their own laws on Driving Under the Influence of alcohol, or better known as DUI. Within this article we will explore the different DUI laws within the specific State of Colorado, including penalties. To begin with, Colorado does not have what is known as a "Lookback Period", and all prior DUIs are relevant for sentencing and penalty purposes. 

What constitutes a high BAC for a DUI/DWAI in Colorado?

  • Under 21: .02%
  • 21 or Older: .08% DUI or .05% DWAI

Colorado law enforcement refers to drunk driving offenses as either:

  • DUI: Driving Under the Influence, triggered by .08% or higher BAC
  • DWAI: Driving While Ability Impaired, triggered by .05% BAC but less than .08% BAC

There is never an acceptable time to drink and drive, as your vision, responses, along with your mental capacity to make quick and important decisions and judgments, are severely hindered and are not capable of bouncing back to what you are able to perform wihout alcohol in your system. Each person is different, and their tolerance level of alcohol is severely unpredictable making it impossible to say how many drinks are "normal" or not. This is what requires law enforcement to perform chemical testing on suspected DUI offenders. If you are pulled over and are requested to take a chemical test in order to determine your BAC, or Blood Alcohol Content, Colorado has an implied consent law. That means that if you refuse to submit to a chemical test you will be subject to a fine and automatic license suspension. For refusal to take the chemical test, the penalties are as follows: 

  • First Offense: 1 year license suspension
  • Second Offense: 2 year license suspension
  • Third Offense: 3 year license suspension

What are the penalties within the Colorado DUI/DWAI law?

There are several penalties within the Colorado DUI laws, and we will explore them in this section. Should you be pulled over and be found guilty of Driving Under the Influence of alcohol within the boarders of the State of Colorado, the following will be the consequences you will be facing:

Penalty of Jail: 

  • First Offense: Up to 1 year (DUI) or up to 180 days (DWAI)
  • Second Offense: Up to 1 year (DUI & DWAI)
  • Third Offense: Up to 1 year (DWI & DWAI)

Penalties and Fines:

  • First Offense: Up to $1,000 (DUI) or up to $500 (DWAI)
  • Second Offense: Up to $1,500 (DUI & DWAI)
  • Third Offense: Up to $1,500 (DUI) or up to $1,000 (DWAI)

Penalty of Interlock Ignition Device:

While this is not required for the first offense, an Interlock Ignition Device is required for penalty payment in the second and third offense. 


It is important to note that laws often change, as well as their interpretation and application of them. Due to the fact that there are multiple jurisdictions within a State, and each may choose to enforce the laws in different ways, it is very important to prepare for the unexpected. For this reason, it would be in your best interest to retain the services of an experienced and professional lawyer who is well versed in Colorado DUI laws, and capable of giving you the direction you need for your specific case, along with being fully aware of the current laws pertaining to DUI. 

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