Learn More About DWIs

Colorado DUI & DWAI Laws

Jun 30, 2016

In Colorado a drunk driving conviction can classify as either a DUI (driving under the influence) or a DWAI (driving while ability impaired). These classifications are based on a person’s blood alcohol concentration or BAC. A DUI is defined by a .08% or higher BAC and a DWAI is defined by a .05% to .08% BAC.

Legal limit in Colorado:

  • Standard, non-commercial drivers: DWAI: 0.05%
  • Standard, non-commercial drivers: DUI: 0.08%
  • Drivers under 21: 0.02%

Penalties, Fines, & Suspension

Colorado DUI & DWAI Penalties, Fines, & Suspension
Penalty 1st offense 2nd offense 3rd offense
Sentence DWAI: up to 180 days
DUI: up to 1 year
Up to 1 year (DWAI & DUI) Up to 1 year (DWAI & DUI)
Fine DWAI: up to $500
DUI: up to $1,000
Up to $1,500 (DWAI & DUI) DWAI: up to $1,000
DUI: up to $1,500
Driver’s License Suspension DWAI: n/a
DUI: up to 9 months
1 year (DWAI & DUI) 2 years (DWAI & DUI)

In addition, Colorado outlines specific penalties for offenders who receive a DWAI with a previous DUI and vice versa.
DWAI With Previous DUI: 60 days to 1 year sentence, $800 to $1,200 fine, 52 to 104 hours of public service.
DUI With Previous DWAI: 70 days to 1 year sentence, $900 to $1,500 fine, 56 to 112 hours of public service.

Chemical Test Refusal

Colorado has an expressed consent law requiring drivers to take a breath or blood test if pulled over under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Refusal of this chemical based test can result in a license suspension.
1st offense: 12 month license suspension
2nd offense: 24 month license suspension, with possible early reinstatement after 12 months
3rd offense: 36 month license suspension, with possible early reinstatement after 12 months

Ignition Interlock

There are several instances where an ignition interlock device (IID) may be needed to operate a vehicle after a DUI or DWAI in Colorado. After a second or third drinking and driving conviction a driver will be required to install this device if regain use of their license. You must complete all reinstatement requirements to apply for this option.

Criminal Record

A drinking and driving offense will stay on a person’s record for life and cannot be removed in the state of Colorado. All previous DUI and DWAI convictions can be used against a person in a court of law.

Under 21

Underage drinking is illegal in the state of Colorado under most circumstances. If someone under the age of 21 is pulled over for drinking and driving with a BAC between .02% and .05% will usually result in a 3 month license suspension as well as various fines, penalties or community service as determined by the court. If a minor has a BAC over .05 they will suffer typical adult consequences as outlined above. Punishments, fines and penalties will increase after a second or third offense.

DWI with a Child Passenger

A child abuse misdemeanor could accompany a DUI or DWAI charge if the conviction involves a minor in the vehicle. A minor is classified as anyone under the age of 16 and penalties and punishments will increase if the minor’s life or health is put in danger.

More on CO DUI Laws:

Colorado Department of Transportation: Cost of a DUI:

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Updated: July 29, 2016 at 11:30 am