Before you even get started, if you have been charged with a DUI or DWI violation in Colorado, make sure you contact a legal aid or traffic attorney that can assist you by providing you with a consultation and guidance that could determine what you can expect and how to ensure your penalties aren't as severe as they could be.

Now, as you are interested in finding out the DUI/DWI laws in Colorado, be sure that you fully understand the stress put behind these laws as a great effort of the state to reduce traffic injuries and deaths due to impaired driving because of alcohol or drugs. Driving under the influence can mean many things, sometimes what you would expect to be included, as there is no flexibility when it comes to drinking and driving.

Drunk driving in Colorado is having less of an impact on the community thanks to many strict laws and enhancements in penalties, but it continues to be a problem that must be dealt with appropriately. If you have had just one shot, one glass of beer, or even just half of a cocktail, you could still either be over the limit or impaired to a degree that decreases your reaction time and prevents you from making proper judgment on the roads.

DUI and DWI Crimes in Colorado

There are two levels of offenses related to alcohol recognized in Colorado, both depending on the BAC measurement recorded through chemical testing.

  • A DUI is considered to be a much more serious offense than a DWI in Colorado, with consequences that can be quite costly, resulting in loss of money and driving privileges as well. You could also end up in jail due to a DUI offense in Colorado.
  • A DWI is a lesser offense than a DUI but is, nonetheless, just as serious when it comes to enforcement. If you have a BAC level between 0.05% and 0.07%, you will be charged with a DWI and can face many fines and have other penalties also quite serious.

Is Your BAC Too High To Drive?

If you have a BAC level of 0.05% or higher, you could likely be charged with a DUI or DWI offense in Colorado. A DUI is received for a BAC of 0.08% or higher, but your BAC could be much less and result in a DUI or DWI conviction in Colorado.

  • Determining whether you are too impaired to drive is going to go much further than determining your BAC level. In fact, even if your BAC is recorded under 0.05% but officers visibly see impairment in your actions and judgment, you can be charged with drinking and driving, with serious consequences to follow.

In other words, if you aren't sure whether your BAC is too high to drive, ask yourself one question: “Have I consumed any alcohol or drugs”. If the answer is yes, it is a good idea not to get behind the wheel as you could be headed right to jail. Officers will arrest you if they feel that you are intoxicated in any way, and will document every movement you make to prove that you were under the influence, regardless of the BAC testing results.

However, if you would like to know how many drinks it takes you to reach the legal limit in Colorado, you could use the Colorado Department of Transportation provided BAC calculator online.

Penalties for DUI/DWI Conviction in Colorado

A first-time DWAI offense in Colorado isn't treated lightly, although the penalties will be a bit less severe than repeat offenses. The first time you are convicted of a DWAI charge, you will receive 8 points towards your license, which will increase your risk for license suspension.

  • For a first-time DUI offense in Colorado, the penalties will be automatic license suspension for a period of no less than 12 months, including fines between $300 and $1,000, a jail sentence between 5 days and one year, as well as community service hours between 48 and 96 total, with alcohol education courses attended for a period between 3 and 9 months.
  • Any subsequent DUI or DWAI offenses you are convicted for will greatly increase the penalties, with the worst case scenario causing the loss of your license indefinitely. This could also be the result of failing to satisfy the conditions of your charges. You could also be required to install an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) on your vehicle, which will lock the ignition until you breath a clear breath into the device.

Getting Arrested

  • If you fail a roadside administered sobriety test, which will include walking in a straight line,etc., you will be read your Miranda rights.
  • You will then be cuffed and placed in the police car, for a free ride right to jail.
  • Your vehicle will then be towed and impounded.
  • You will be offered a breathalyzer test to determine the BAC level. If you refuse this test, you are violating the Express Consent Law, which means that you are surrendering your driver license and automatically accepting guilt. It is imperative that you understand that this testing could actually work in your favor if you fail the roadside test but have a low BAC level under the legal limit.
  • You will then spend time in the slammer as you sober up. If you were highly intoxicated, you may even be taken to a court-ordered detox at which point your freedom could be decided by a judge.

The Cost of Drunk Driving in Colorado

The NHTSA has determined that an average traffic fatality related to impaired driving in Colorado can cost approximately $3.6 million. That is $1.1 million put towards monetary costs for the incident and approximately $2.5 million in loss of quality of life. The state of Colorado alone lost approximately $1.9 billion during 2000 due to alcohol related traffic accidents.

While there is an estimated cost for an alcohol related death or injury, what is the total cost to you personally. Not even monetarily – what is the cost that you feel internally as you have to relive your mistakes each day?

There is a great brochure offered by CDOT, assessing the costs of a DUI charge in Colorado, which can be obtained online.

You will find that with your fees and fines totaled, your first offense could cost nearly $10,000, based on only the minimum fine possible. This costs could easily rise significantly to an amount that is well past that.

DUI/DWI Laws in Colorado

  • Express Consent Law: When you apply for your driver's license, you provide your consent to chemical testing in order to determine blood alcohol level if you are arrested for a DUI charge. If you refuse testing, the penalties can be even greater than excepting a DUI charge, resulting in revocation of your license permanently in some cases.
  • Zero Tolerance Law: All drivers under the age of 21 in Colorado are forbidden from consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. If there is a BAC recorded level between 0.02% and 0.08%, your license will automatically be revoked.
  • Buying and Possession: For those under 21, getting caught with alcohol anywhere in the vehicle will cause your license to be revoked.

If you have any questions concerning Colorado's DUI laws, you can visit the Department of Transportation online,  or view the Colorado Driver Handbook online.


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