Colorado Driving Under Restraint
(42-2-138, C.R.S.)

revoked Colorado driver license

Is it a crime to drive in Colorado if my license has been suspended or revoked?

42-2-138 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) makes it a misdemeanor to drive after your license has been denied, revoked or suspended in any state. This crime is referred to as Colorado "driving under restraint."

Penalties for driving under restraint in Colorado can include jail time and a fine of up to $500—more if your license was restrained because of drugs or alcohol.

To help you understand more about Colorado's law against driving under restraint, our top Colorado DUI defense lawyers discuss the following, below:

1. What is Colorado driving under restraint?

You drive under restraint in Colorado when your license has been denied, suspended or revoked for any reason in any state. The law applies to resident and nonresidents alike.

2. Penalties for driving under restraint

2.1. Restraint due to alcohol and/or drugs

Penalties for Colorado driving under restraint are more serious if your license was revoked or suspended because of DUI, DUI per se, DWAI or UDD.

Consequences of a driving in Colorado while your license is under restraint due to an alcohol- or drug-related offense can include:

First offense

  • Up to one year in jail (with at least 30 days mandatory), and
  • A discretionary fine of $500-$1,000.1 

In addition, your license suspension, revocation or ineligibility will be extended by one year.

Second or subsequent offense

  • Up to two years in jail (with at least 60 days mandatory), and
  • A discretionary fine of $500-$3,000.2

In addition, a second or subsequent conviction within five years makes you ineligible for a Colorado driver's license for a period of four years following such second or subsequent conviction.3

2.2. Exception for emergencies

If you can prove that you drove on a revoked or suspended license only because it was an emergency, the court is not obligated to impose mandatory jail time.4 However, the court may still jail you and/or fine you, in its discretion.

2.3. Restraint not due to drunk or drugged driving

Consequences of a driving in Colorado while your license is suspended or revoked for reasons entirely unrelated to alcohol and/or drugs can include:

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • A fine of up to $500.

In addition if you incur a second or subsequent such driving under restraint conviction within five years, you are ineligible for a Colorado driver's license for a period of three years.5

3. Defenses to CO driving under restraint

If you drive in Colorado after your license has been revoked or suspended, there are very few legal defenses available. However, the best Colorado DUI lawyers know it depends on your specific situation.

Defenses we may be able to argue on your behalf include (but are not limited to):

  • You never received notice that your license was revoked or suspended.
  • You reasonably didn't know your license was under restraint.
  • There was a clerical error and your license was not under restraint.
  • You only drove because of an emergency.

And even if you did drive under restraint, we can argue in favor of leniency by convincing the judge that putting you in jail is not in your or the state's best interest.

Call us for help…

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If you have been arrested in Colorado for driving with a suspended or revoked license, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. Don't let a mistake keep you from enjoying the freedom to drive. Call us and find out why our caring criminal defense attorneys are considered among the best DUI lawyers in Colorado.

We are a statewide firm with home offices in Denver at:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202
(720) 955-6112


Legal references:

  1. 42-2-138(d)(I), C.R.S.
  2. Same.
  3. 42-2-138(b), C.R.S.
  4. 42-2-138 (d)(I), C.R.S.
  5. 42-2-138(b), C.R.S.

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