Colorado DUI / DWAI Penalties

What are the consequences of DUI in Colorado?

In Colorado, driving under the influence (DUI), DUI per se, and driving while ability impaired (DWAI) are generally misdemeanor offenses that don't always result in fines or jail time. But with a potential driver's license suspension and criminal record, the real cost of a DUI or DWAI can be quite significant.

The good news is that the best Colorado DUI lawyers have many ways to challenge both drunk driving arrests and Colorado DMV license suspensions. But you have just seven days from the time of your arrest to request a Colorado DMV hearing.

If you or a loved one has been charged with Colorado drinking and driving, time is of the essence. We invite you to contact the caring criminal attorneys at the Colorado Legal Defense Group for a free consultation. We will get back to you promptly to explore your best ways to defend against a Colorado DUI.

In this article, our Colorado DUI defense lawyers discuss:

1. Colorado DUI penalties

Driving under the influence is a generally a Colorado misdemeanor. Consequences of misdemeanor Colorado drunk driving can include:

1st offense

  • 5 days – 1 year in jail,
  • A fine of $600-1,000,
  • Driver's license suspension of up to 9 months, and
  • 48-96 hours of community service.

However, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.15% or higher, you will be designated a Colorado persistent drunk driver (“PDD”)  and sentenced as a repeat-DUI offender, even if it is your first offense.

2nd offense

For purposes of Colorado DUI sentencing, prior convictions include DUI and/or DWAI convictions in any state or U.S. territory.1 Penalties for a second DUI conviction can include:

  • 10 days – 1 year in jail,
  • A fine of $600-1,500,
  • Driver's license suspension of up to one year,
  • 48-120 hours of community service, and
  • Ignition interlock device for two years following license reinstatement.

3rd offense

A third DUI offense in any jurisdiction can lead to penalties of:

  • 10 days – 1 year in jail,
  • A fine of $600-1,500,
  • Driver's license suspension of up to two years,
  • 48-120 hours of community service, and
  • Ignition interlock device for two years following license reinstatement.

Additional consequences of a Colorado misdemeanor DUI can include:

2. Colorado DWAI penalties

DWAI is generally a misdemeanor in Colorado. Potential consequences of a Colorado DWAI include:

1st offense

  • 2 days – 180 days in jail,
  • A fine of $200-500,
  • 24-48 hours of community service, and
  • 8 points on your DMV driving record.

2nd offense

  • 10 days - one year in jail (with a minimum 10-day mandatory sentence),
  • A fine of $600-1,500,
  • 48-120 hours of community service, and
  • 8 points on your DMV driving record.

3rd offense

  • 10 days - one year in jail (with a minimum 10-day mandatory sentence),
  • A fine of $600-1,500,
  • 48-120 hours of community service, and
  • 8 points on your DMV driving record.

3. Felony DUI / DWAI

Colorado DUI or DWAI becomes a class 4 felony when the violation occurs after three or more entirely separate prior convictions (in any U.S. state or territory) for:

Consequences of a Colorado felony DUI conviction can include:

  • A fine of $2,000 to $500,000,
  • Two to six years in Colorado state prison, and
  • Three years mandatory parole.

4. Refusing a BAC chemical test

When you operate a motor vehicle in Colorado, you are deemed to give "express consent" to a DUI breath test or DUI blood test if you are arrested on suspicion of DUI or DWAI.

If you refuse to take a DUI chemical test, your Colorado driver's license will automatically be suspended for one year. To regain your driving privilege at the end of your license suspension, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device for 2 years at your own expense.Additionally, if your case goes to trial, your refusal will be admissible as evidence of your guilt.

5. Colorado underage drinking and driving penalties

Underage drivers are subject to Colorado regular DUI and DWAI laws if they drive while actually impaired or with a BAC of over .05%.

But Colorado also has a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinking and driving (UDD). Under Colorado's UDD law, it is illegal for anyone under twenty-one to drive with a BAC of 0.02% or higher.

A first UDD is not a crime. It is a class A traffic infraction--a civil violation. A second or subsequent violation of Colorado's UDD law is, however, a Class 2 traffic misdemeanor.

Potential consequences of Colorado underage drinking and driving include:

1st offense

  • Fine of up to $150,
  • Driver's license suspension of up to 3 months,
  • Up to 24 hours of useful community service, and
  • 4 points on your Colorado DMV driving record.

2nd offense

  • 10 days – 90 days jail time,
  • Driver's license suspension of up to 6 months,
  • Fine of $150-300,
  • 48-120 hours of community service, and
  • 4 points on your Colorado DMV driving record.

3rd offense

  • 10 days – 90 days jail time,
  • Driver's license suspension of up to 6 months,
  • Fine of $150-300,
  • 48-120 hours of community service, and
  • 4 points on your Colorado DMV driving record.

Additional consequences of any Colorado UDD can include:

  • An alcohol evaluation or assessment (at your own expense), and
  • An alcohol education or treatment program (at your own expense).

6. Call us for help…

Img-call-for-help-optimized

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a Colorado DUI or chemical test refusal, there is no time to waste. You have just seven days from arrest to challenge a Colorado DMV license suspension.

Communities our Colorado DUI / DWAI lawyers serve include Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Thornton, Arvada, Westminster, Centennial and Boulder.

In Denver, our home office is conveniently located at:

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


Legal references:

  1. 42-4-1301 (1) (j), C.R.S.: For the purposes of this section, a person is deemed to have a prior conviction for DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI; vehicular homicide, as described in section 18-3-106 (1) (b), C.R.S.; or vehicular assault, as described in section 18-3-205 (1) (b), C.R.S., if the person has been convicted under the laws of this state or under the laws of any other state, the United States, or any territory subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, of an act that, if committed within this state, would constitute any of these offenses. The prosecution shall set forth such prior convictions in the indictment or information.
  2. 42-4-1301. Driving under the influence - driving while impaired - driving with excessive alcoholic content - definitions - penalties.
    (1) (a) A person who drives a motor vehicle or vehicle under the influence of alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, commits driving under the influence. Driving under the influence is a misdemeanor, but it is a class 4 felony if the violation occurred after three or more prior convictions, arising out of separate and distinct criminal episodes, for DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI; vehicular homicide, as described in section 18-3-106 (1) (b), C.R.S.; vehicular assault, as described in section 18-3-205 (1) (b), C.R.S.; or any combination thereof.
    (b) A person who drives a motor vehicle or vehicle while impaired by alcohol or by one or more drugs, or by a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, commits driving while ability impaired. Driving while ability impaired is a misdemeanor, but it is a class 4 felony if the violation occurred after three or more prior convictions, arising out of separate and distinct criminal episodes, for DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI; vehicular homicide, as described in section 18-3-106 (1) (b), C.R.S.; vehicular assault, as described in section 18-3-205 (1) (b), C.R.S.; or any combination thereof.
  3. 42-4-1301, C.R.S., (d) (I) It is a class A traffic infraction for any person under twenty-one years of age to drive a motor vehicle or vehicle when the person's BAC, as shown by analysis of the person's breath, is at least 0.02 but not more than 0.05 at the time of driving or within two hours after driving. The court, upon sentencing a defendant pursuant to this subparagraph (I), may order, in addition to any penalty imposed under a class A traffic infraction, that the defendant perform up to twenty-four hours of useful public service, subject to the conditions and restrictions of section 18-1.3-507, C.R.S., and may further order that the defendant submit to and complete an alcohol evaluation or assessment, an alcohol education program, or an alcohol treatment program at such defendant's own expense.
    (II) A second or subsequent violation of this paragraph (d) is a class 2 traffic misdemeanor.

Free attorney consultations...

Our attorneys want to hear your side of the story. Contact us 24/7 to schedule a FREE consultation with a criminal defense lawyer. We may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed altogether. And if necessary, we will champion your case all the way to trial.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Regain peace of mind...

Our defense attorneys understand that being accused of a crime is one of the most difficult times of your life. Rely on us to zealously and discreetly protect your rights and to fight for the most favorable resolution possible.

To contact us, please select your state:

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370