DUI/DWAI Laws in Colorado

Colorado Express Consent Laws

Source: Colorado Department of Revenue: Division of Motor Vehicles “Alcohol DUI” [accessed October 23, 2013],

Colorado’s Express Consent Law requires any driver to consent to a chemical test if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person is driving under the influence or their ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired because of alcohol, drugs or both.


If you have a notice of revocation issued by a police officer you have 7 days to go to a driver’s license office to request a hearing. Your request for a hearing must be made in writing. In Colorado Springs, you must go to the following office of the Department of Revenue to request a hearing:

Colorado Springs (El Paso County)
2447 North Union Blvd
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
M-F, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
(719) 594-8701

If your license was not surrendered at the time of the stop it MUST be surrendered to receive a temporary driving permit.

Contact the hearing section at 303-205-5606 or learn more on their website by clicking here.

For information regarding what happens at a hearing click here.

Alcohol Courses

The court may require you to complete a series of alcohol classes as a condition of a plea bargain or a deferred sentence for an alcohol-related offense. There are also circumstances in which the court may not order you to take alcohol classes, but Colorado law will require these classes as a condition of driver license reinstatement. To find a treatment provider please visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/dbh.

If you are an out of state driver and need to reinstate with the State of Colorado and have a requirement for Level II Drug/Alcohol Education/Therapy you must have an evaluation done by an alcohol treatment center or alcohol therapist in the state where you reside. You cannot reinstate with the State of Colorado until you can provide documentation that you have met the requirements of the center or therapist. The evaluation should be on letterhead of the alcohol treatment center or therapist and must specify the beginning and ending dates as well as the hours required to fulfill their requirements. For more information on alcohol classes view the Level I and Level II Classes Brochure.

Colorado Drunk Driving Laws 1

Source: Colorado Drunk Driving Laws: Office of Legislative Legal Services [accessed 10/7/2014]

Colorado law prohibits a person from driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or while the person’s ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or drugs. These offenses are often abbreviated as “DUI” and “DWAI”, respectively.

Blood tests and breath tests play a prominent role in the enforcement of drunk driving laws, although DUI or DWAI can be proved by other means. If at the time of the commission of an alleged offense, or within a reasonable time thereafter, a defendant’s BAC exceeds 0.05 but is less than 0.08, there is a permissible inference that the defendant’s ability to operate a vehicle was impaired by the consumption of alcohol. If at such time the defendant’s BAC is 0.08 or more, there is a permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol.

Similarly, if at the time of an offense, or within a reasonable time thereafter, a defendant’s blood contains 5 nanograms or more of delta-9 THC (the active substance in marijuana) per milliliter in whole blood, there is a permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence of one or more drugs.

A person may be classified as a persistent drunk driver and subject to greater penalties if the test shows a blood alcohol level of at least 0.15.

The law presumes that every driver has consented to take a blood, breath, saliva, or urine test when requested to do so by a law enforcement officer who has probable cause to believe that the person is DUI or DWAI. Refusal to take the test is both admissible in court and a basisfor revocation of a driver’s license.

There are both criminal penalties (fines, imprisonment, and required public service) and administrative penalties for drunk driving. Courts impose criminal penalties, and the Colorado Department of Revenue (the Department) imposes the administrative penalties. Administrative penalties include the suspension or revocation of a license due to the commission of certain offenses or the accumulation of sufficient points assessed for violations.

Sometimes a driver may reduce his or her criminal penalties through a plea bargain in court or by undergoing alcohol or drug treatment, but he or she must still face administrative penalties enforced by the Department. In most cases, the Department does not have the authority to reduce or bargain away these penalties.

The following lists summarize the administrative and criminal penalties for DUI and DWAI as they appear in sections 42-2-125, 42-2-126, 42-2-127, and 42-4-1307, Colorado Revised Statutes.

Administrative Penalties:

Violation License Suspension Points
BAC test of at least 0.08 9 months
2nd BAC test of at least 0.08 1 year
3rd or subsequent BAC test of at least 0.08 2 years
DWAI None 8
1st DUI 9 months 12
2nd DUI or DWAI 12 months DWAI 8
DUI 12
3rd DUI or DWAI 24 months DWAI 8
DUI 12
1st Under 21 drinking and driving
(BAC of at least 0.02 but less than 0.05)
3 months – 1st offense
6 months – 2nd offense
1 year – 3rd or subsequent offense

Criminal Penalties

Offense Jail Fine Public Service Hours
1st DWAI 2 days – 180 Days $200-$500 24-48
1st DUI 5 days – 1 year $600-$1000 48-96
DWAI or DUI with one previous DWAI or DUI 10 days – 1 year $600-$1500 48-120
DWAI or DUI with two or more previous DWAI or DUI 60 days – 1 year $600-$1500 48-120
1st Under 21 drinking and driving
(BAC of at least 0.02 but less than 0.05)
None $100 Up to 24

In some cases, a portion of the minimum mandatory jail sentence can be suspended if the person agrees to undergo an alcohol treatment program.

In addition, persons who violate the state’s drunk driving laws may have to pay court costs, penalty surcharges of up to $500 to help pay for programs to address persistent drunk drivers, surcharges to benefit the crime victim compensation fund, fees to reinstate a driver’s license after suspension or revocation, and other fees, charges, and penalties.

Still other consequences may follow. If alcohol or drugs are involved in an accident causing injury or death, the penalties for vehicular assault or vehicular homicide are more stringent. Persons convicted of a third DUI or DWAI offense within seven years also face a mandatory five-year license revocation under the “habitual traffic offender” statute, section 42-2-202, Colorado Revised Statutes.

This summary does not include all the details contained in state law and regulations. For more information, contact your local Driver’s License Office or visit a public library and ask for title 42 of the Colorado Revised Statutes to review sections 42-2-125 to 42-2-208 (administrative point system and revocation procedures), 42-4-1301 (general DUI statute) and 42-4-1307 (penalties for traffic offenses involving alcohol and drugs).

This summary contains information commonly requested from the Office of Legislative Legal Services. It does not represent an official legal opinion of the General Assembly or the state of Colorado and does not bind the members of the General Assembly. It is intended to provide a general overview of Colorado law as of the date of its preparation. Any person needing legal advice should consult his or her own lawyer and should not rely on the information in this memorandum.


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