What Are The Colorado DUI Laws?

February 8, 2024

Before you hit the road, it's important to familiarize yourself with the state's driving under the influence laws. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can have severe consequences.

In fact, 1 in 3 traffic deaths in Colorado were caused by the grave threat of impaired driving. In 2022, the state witnessed a staggering 61% increase in roadway fatalities from a decade ago, with 764 lives lost, including 286 attributed to impaired driving. Notably, 16,213 DUI cases were filed in 2022.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) spearheads the Shift into Safe initiative, urging a collective commitment to safe driving. With intensified impaired driving enforcement, education, and awareness campaigns, Colorado aims to curb the alarming rise in impaired driving incidents.

The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in Colorado is set at 0.08% for drivers aged 21 and older. In this article, we will talk about the DUI laws and penalties in Colorado that you could face, such as fines, license suspensions, mandatory alcohol education programs, and even jail time.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits in Colorado

Did you know that Colorado has specific limits for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when it comes to DUI laws?

In Colorado, it's illegal to drive with a BAC level of 0.08% or higher if you're over the age of 21. However, if you're under 21, the limit is even lower at 0.02%. For commercial drivers, the limit is set at 0.04%.

These BAC limits are important because they help determine whether a person is impaired and shouldn't be operating a vehicle. Do note that even if you feel fine, your BAC level could still be above the legal limit.

It's always best to avoid drinking and driving altogether for the safety of yourself and others on the road.

Penalties for DUI Offenses in Colorado

Make sure you're aware of the penalties you could face if you get caught driving under the influence in the beautiful state of Colorado. The penalties for DUI offenses in Colorado can be quite severe.

  • First-time DUI offense: You can expect to face a minimum of five days in jail, a fine ranging from $600 to $1,000, and a license suspension of nine months. If you have a previous DUI conviction on your record, the penalties become even harsher.
  • Second offense: can result in a minimum of 10 days in jail, a fine between $600 and $1,500, and a license suspension of one year.
  • You may also be required to complete community service and attend alcohol education programs.

These penalties are meant to deter individuals from driving under the influence and ensure the safety of all Colorado residents and visitors.

Potential Defenses for DUI Charges in Colorado

One potential defense against DUI charges in Colorado is if the officer didn't have reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place. According to the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, law enforcement officers must have a valid reason to stop a vehicle. This means they need to have observed a traffic violation, equipment malfunction, or behavior that indicates possible drunk driving.

If the officer cannot provide a valid reason for the initial stop, it could weaken the prosecution's case against you. Another potential defense is challenging the accuracy of the field sobriety tests or breathalyzer results. These tests aren't foolproof and can be affected by various factors, such as medical conditions or improper administration. You may be able to cast doubt on the accuracy of the DUI charges against you by questioning the reliability of the test results.

Implications for Residents and Visitors

Residents and visitors in Colorado may face significant consequences if found guilty of driving under the influence. That’s why we urge everyone to make responsible and conscious choices to avoid these consequences:

  • Fines: If you're caught driving under the influence, you can expect to pay fines ranging from $600 to $1,000 for a first offense, and up to $1,500 for subsequent offenses.
  • License Suspension: Your driver's license will be suspended for a certain period of time, depending on the number of prior offenses. For a first offense, you can expect a 9-month suspension, and subsequent offenses will result in longer suspensions.
  • Increased insurance rates: Your insurance rates will also increase significantly, making it more expensive to maintain coverage.
  • Mandatory Alcohol Education Programs: You'll be required to complete an alcohol education program, which can take up precious time and money.

Resources for Navigating Colorado DUI Laws

If you're in need of assistance with navigating the DUI laws in Colorado, there are resources available to help you.

The first place you should turn to is the Colorado Department of Revenue's Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website. They provide detailed information on the laws, penalties, and consequences of a DUI conviction in the state. The website also offers forms and documents that you may need during the process.

Another valuable resource is the Colorado State Public Defender's Office. They offer legal representation to those who can't afford an attorney and have a specific section devoted to DUI cases.

Various private law firms and organizations that specialize in DUI defense also provide you with expert advice and guidance throughout the legal process. Remember to utilize these resources to ensure you have the necessary information and support when dealing with Colorado's DUI laws.


When it comes to Colorado DUI laws, always be aware of your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels and never drive under the influence. The penalties for DUI offenses in Colorado can be severe, so it's essential to take these laws seriously. If you ever find yourself facing DUI charges, remember that there are potential defenses available to you.

Whether you're a resident or a visitor, understanding Colorado DUI laws can keep you safe and legal on the roads. Always remember that you have rights and potential defenses if you find yourself facing DUI charges. By knowing the laws and resources available, you can deal with the legal process more effectively.


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