Colorado Just Barely Eeks Out of the Drunk Driving Top Dozen

Drunk driving is a problem no matter what time of the year it is, but there always seems to be an uptick around the holidays. Colorado is no exception.

The state barely missed the top-ranking states for drunk driving, slipping through at number 13. Don’t let it fool you, though. Coloradoans have a habit of getting behind the wheel after drinking, with 411 DUI-related arrests happening each year per 100,000 people.

Do you have questions about drunk driving? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions to help you understand the issue and what you should do if you’re pulled over for drunk driving.

What is Drunk Driving in Colorado?

If you are arrested for driving drunk in Colorado, then you can be charged with either Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

The major difference between these two offenses is your blood alcohol level. For a DUI, your blood alcohol level will need to be 0.08 or higher. For a DWAI, your blood alcohol level will need to be greater than 0.05.

Is Driving After Drinking in Colorado a Crime?

You may be surprised to know this but it is not technically a crime to drive after drinking alcohol in Colorado. What is illegal is driving once your blood alcohol level is above the maximum allowed under Colorado law.

Can You Refuse a Sobriety Test If You’re Stopped By Police?

You risk losing your license if you refuse to take a sobriety test when stopped by the police under the suspicion of drunk driving.

This is because something exists in Colorado called express consent. Every person who gets behind the wheel of the car in doing so gives their consent to have their breath, blood, saliva, or urine tested when pulled over by a police officer under the suspicion of DWAI or DUI.

Refusing to do so can be a basis in court for your driver’s license to be revoked. If you believe you may fail, you may ask to have your attorney present while you take the test to buy time.

This strategy may not work, though, depending upon exactly how much you’ve had to drink, and how long you waited before getting behind the wheel.

What Penalties Can You Face For Drunk Driving in Colorado?

For a first conviction of driving under the influence, you can have your license suspended for up to nine months, face up to 12 months in jail, and pay fines of $1,000. You may also be ordered to complete up to 96 hours of community service.

For a first DWAI, you can face up to six months in jail, fines up to $500, and up to 48 hours of community service. The penalties go up from there, getting more severe every time you are caught driving drunk.

If you get caught a third time driving under the influence within 7 years of your first offense, then you will have your license revoked for five years and be considered a habitual offender.

What If You Are Caught Drunk Driving Under Age 21?

What If You Are Caught Drunk Driving Under Age 21?

The legal drinking age in Colorado is 21. If someone under that age is caught driving drunk with any amount of alcohol in their blood, then they can have their license suspended for up to three months, face fines of up to $100, and be ordered to complete 24 hours of community service.

If your blood alcohol level is greater than 0.05 and you’re under 21, then the penalties will match that of drivers over age 21.


About the Author:

Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020 and is Lead Counsel rated.