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Colorado DUI Laws

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Colorado can cost upwards of $13,000 in fines, court costs, legal fees, probation supervision fees, ignition interlock device (IID) rental, and other fees. Criminal penalties can include jail, probation, and hours of community service. Defense attorneys are expensive. You might lose time from work or even lose your job.

The other costs of a DUI can be much worse. These can include life-altering injuries or death. Colorado reports a 44% increase in traffic fatalities involving impaired drivers since 2019. You may confront vehicular homicide or assault charges.

Colorado has a wide range of impaired driving offenses. They can land you in jail, even below the legal limit. And you are liable if you host a party serving alcohol and a guest drives drunk.

Get yourself up to speed on the DUI laws enforced by Colorado. It will help you avoid committing the offense and plan your next steps if charged.

Colorado DUI Laws: Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Implied Consent

"Per Se" BAC Limit 0.08%
Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit 0.02%
Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit 0.15%
Implied Consent to Submit to BAC Test? Yes

Colorado DUI Laws: Select Penalties

Minimum License Suspension or Revocation (1st / 2nd / 3rd offense) 9 months / 1 year / 2 years
Mandatory Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Both
Vehicle Confiscation Possible? Yes, after 2nd offense
Ignition Interlock Device Possible? Yes (mandatory in some cases)

Note: State laws are constantly changing through legislative, judicial, or other means. While FindLaw works hard to ensure the accuracy of its legal resources, it's a good idea to thoroughly research the law or check with an attorney to ensure you have the most recent information.

Colorado DUI and DWAI Laws

Colorado's driving under the influence law covers a wide range of blood alcohol contents (BAC), marijuana use, and substance abuse. In fact, if you show signs of intoxication, law enforcement may arrest you for a DUI even if you are below the legal limit,

DUI and Drugged Driving Penalties

If your BAC is 0.08% or higher, you are “per se" intoxicated under Colorado's driving under the influence law. This means law enforcement needs no further proof of your impairment. The police officer can administer a breathalyzer or chemical tests, or you may go to a hospital. You may also undergo field sobriety tests.

A first-time DUI per se or a first DUI conviction carries the possibility of:

  • Up to one year of jail time
  • Two years of probation
  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • 96 hours of public service
  • Automatic license revocation for nine months

It is possible to receive both a charge of DUI per se and DUI from one arrest.

Even though it is still a misdemeanor, a second DUI or DWAI conviction carries a mandatory 10-day jail sentence, with up to two years possible. A judge can impose fines of up to $1,200, as well as up to four years of probation and 120 hours of community service. You will lose your license for 12 months.

If you refuse to submit to chemical testing, law enforcement may force you to undergo testing anyway. A prosecutor can use evidence of your refusal against you at trial.

Marijuana and Driving

If suspected of being under the influence of marijuana or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an officer will conduct chemical testing. You can have some THC in your system, as recreational marijuana use is legal in Colorado if you are over 21. However, blood tests showing five nanograms of THC or more will see you arrested for a DUI. This applies to medical marijuana use as well.

Driving under the influence of drugs, illegal or prescribed, or impaired by other intoxicating substances will land you a DUI charge. DUI penalties are the same, whether your charge is alcohol-related, drugs, or both.

If a combination of THC and alcohol is in your system and you show signs of impairment, even if both levels are under legal limits, you can face arrest.


Colorado prohibits driving while ability impaired (DWAI). If your blood alcohol level is 0.05% to under 0.08%, law enforcement will charge you with DWAI. A conviction might mean:

  • Jail for up to 180 days
  • Fines of up to $500
  • Two years of probation
  • 48 hours of public service

A second DWAI holds the same penalties as a second DUI.

Persistent Drunk Driver

Having two or more motor vehicle-related drug or alcohol convictions or license revocations will result in a classification as a persistent drunk driver on your record. You will also receive this classification if your BAC is 0.15% or more or if you refuse to submit to chemical testing. This will happen even if you have no prior convictions.

You must also complete an alcohol and drug education class or treatment program.

Underage Drinking and Driving

If you are under 21 and have a BAC of 0.02%, an officer will charge you with underage drinking and driving (UDD). Persons under 21 are prohibited from having THC, other drugs, or inhalants in their system. A first-offense conviction will result in license revocation for three months, a fine of $100, and 24 hours of community service. You will also need to complete drug and alcohol education classes.

Generally, a UDD charge is a class A traffic infraction. However, if your BAC is 0.05% or more, you will warrant the more serious charge of DWAI. You will receive a DUI charge if your BAC is 0.08% or more, and will face the same penalties as an adult.

Ignition Interlock Devices and Restricted Licenses in Colorado

A person whose license has been revoked because of a drug or alcohol-related charge may apply for early, probationary reinstatement. To qualify, you must install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. IIDs require the driver to submit a breath sample, which the device then analyzes for alcohol before the engine can start. Sometimes, you may be eligible for financial aid to help pay for the IID rental.

If you refuse to submit to a BAC test after a traffic stop for suspicion of impaired driving, you must install an IID. The IID will be mandatory for two years.

If you are a persistent drunk driver, you must have an IID installed for at least two years as part of your license reinstatement.

Colorado DUI Resources

Learn More About Colorado DUI Laws by Speaking With an Attorney

You may be able to handle some legal issues alone. But DUI cases often require the legal advice of a skilled DUI lawyer. Even if you have few or no DUI defenses, an attorney can advocate on your behalf and help you achieve the best possible outcome. Learn more about your legal options. Contact a DUI attorney in Colorado today.

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  • Complex DUI situations usually require a lawyer
  • DUI defense attorneys can challenge Breathalyzer/Intoxilyzer or blood test results
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate DUI penalties
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