Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) in Colorado

Colorado DUI of Drugs

It is a crime in Colorado to:

  • drive under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol (DUI), or
  • drive while ability impaired by drugs and/or alcohol (DWAI).

To help you better understand Colorado's laws against using drugs and driving, our top Colorado DUI defense lawyers discuss the following, below.

1. Colorado DUID -- 42-4-1301(1)(a), C.R.S.

You drive under the influence of drugs in Colorado when:

  • You have consumed one or more drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs; and
  • The drugs and/or alcohol make you substantially incapable, either mentally and/or physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.1

2. Colorado DWAI -- 42-4-1301(1)(b), C.R.S.

You drive while ability impaired by drugs in Colorado when:

  • You have consumed one or more drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs; and
  • The drugs and/or alcohol affects you “to the slightest degree.”

You are affected to the slightest degree if you are less able than you ordinarily would have been, either mentally and/or physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.2 

3. The legal definition of “drug” in Colorado

For purposes of Colorado DUI and DWAI laws, drugs include:

  • all drugs (including prescription and over-the-counter), 
  • controlled substances, and
  • any inhaled glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor or vapors.3

"Drugs" include any substance (other than food) that is:

  • Recognized as a drug in the official United States pharmacopeia, national formulary, or the official homeopathic pharmacopeia of the United States, or a supplement thereof;
  • Intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in individuals or animals;
  • Intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of individuals or animals; or
  • Intended for use as a component of any such substance.4
DUI of drugs is frequently charged along with a violation of:

4. Do I have to take a blood test?

Normally, if you are arrested for DUI or DWAI, you must be given your choice of a DUI blood test or DUI breath test.

However, if the officer has probable cause to believe you were under the influence of, or impaired by, drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol you can be required to take a DUI blood test.5 Penalties for refusing to take a blood test include:

  • Revocation of your Colorado driver's license,
  • Designation as a Colorado “persistent drunk driver" (PDD)
  • Mandatory drug education before your license can be reinstated,
  • An ignition interlock device on your vehicle before you can drive again, and
  • Mandatory SR-22 insurance.

5. What if I have a prescription?

Having a valid prescription is not a defense to DUI or DWAI involving drugs. In Colorado, it is against the law to drive if your ability to drive is impaired to the slightest degree even by a seemingly innocuous medication. This includes over-the-counter medications for pain, allergies, or anything else.

6. Medical marijuana

Marijuana is a drug under Colorado law, even when you have a prescription for medical marijuana.6

There is no strict “legal limit” for DUI of marijuana in Colorado. But a jury may infer that you drove under the influence of marijuana if a blood test showed 5 nanograms or more of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter in your blood when you drove.7

However, the fact that you possess a medical marijuana registry card does not, by itself, constitute probable cause for an officer to require you to submit to a Colorado DUI blood test for drugs if you are arrested.8 Nor can possessing a medical marijuana registry card be used as evidence to convict you of DUID or DWAI.9

7. Is drugged driving a Colorado misdemeanor or a felony?

Drugged driving is usually a misdemeanor in Colorado. It becomes a Colorado felony, however, if you have three or more separate prior convictions (in any U.S. state or territory) for:

  • DUI,
  • DUI per se (BAC of .08% or higher),
  • DWAI, 
  • vehicular homicide, and/or
  • vehicular assault.

8. Penalties for Colorado drugged driving

8.1. Misdemeanor penalties

Consequences of a misdemeanor DUI or misdemeanor DWAI conviction can include:

  • Jail time,
  • A hefty fine,
  • Revocation of your Colorado driver license,
  • Community service, and
  • Points on your Colorado DMV record (12 for DUI, 8 for DWAI).

8.2. Felony penalties

Consequences of a Colorado felony DUI / DWAI conviction can include:

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

9. Colorado drugged driving defenses

The best Colorado DUI attorneys can present many legal defenses to Colorado DUI of drugs. Some of the more common include:

  • Your DUI blood test showed less than 5 nanongrams of THC per milliliter.
  • Your driving was not at all impaired by drugs.
  • The officer had no probable cause to pull you over.
  • The officer failed to advise you of your rights.
  • You were not lawfully arrested.
  • You were suspected of DUID or DWAI solely because you carried a medical marijuana I.D. card.
  • Your blood test was not conducted in accordance with Colorado regulations as set forth in 5 CCR 1005-2.
  • There were errors in your DUI blood test.

Call us for help…

Were you charged with DUID or DWAI in Colorado? Do you need the best Colorado DUI lawyer to fight your case in court or at the DMV?

Our compassionate Colorado DUI lawyers have decades of experience fighting charges of driving under the influence of the drugs. We understand that often what you need is help -- not jail. We want you to keep your job.

Don't let a simple mistake deprive you of your freedom. Contact us today for a free consultation. We represent clients accused of DUID, DUI, DUI per se, DWAI and UDD all over the state of Colorado. You can find our Denver home office at:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 222-0330

Arrested in Nevada? Go to our article on DUI of prescription drugs in Nevada.

Legal references:

  1. 42-4-1301 CRS (1)(f).
  2. 42-4-1301(1)(g), C.R.S.
  3. 42-4-1301(1)(d), C.R.S.
  4. 27-80-203(13) and 18-18-102(5), C.R.S.
  5. 42-4-1301.1(2)(b)(I), C.R.S.
  6. 42-4-1301(1)(e), C.R.S.
  7. 42-4-1301(6)(a)(IV), C.R.S.
  8. 42-4-1301(6)(k), C.R.S.
  9. 42-4-1301(6)(j), C.R.S.


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