Colorado DUI Laws & Penalties

Getting a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in Colorado will carry harsh penalties no matter how old you are, but minors are subjected to especially tough penalties. Drivers over the age of 21 with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over .08% are convicted of a DUI. However, drivers under age 21 can be convicted with a .02% BAC due to Colorado's zero tolerance policy.

Zero Tolerance Policy

Drivers under the age of 21 fall under Colorado's Zero Tolerance Policy. Under this policy, any teenager caught behind the wheel with a .02% BAC or higher is subject to an Underage Drinking and Driving Offense (UDD).

Accompanying this policy is the Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP) rule that forbids teens to be in possession of alcohol. Breaking this rule can lead to $250 in fines and 24-hours of community service.

DUI vs DWAI

In Colorado, you can be charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and/or with a DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired). You are charged with a DUI when you have a BAC of .08% or higher, regardless of your age and ability to drive. DWAI charges come when you have a BAC above .05% and there is proof a substance within your body is affecting your ability to judge and drive safely. For teens who have a BAC below .08%, the official charge is a UDD. Once your BAC is above .05%, then you can be charged with a DUI.

Along with the penalties listed below, it is worth noting that the courts may require you to sign up for a probation program.

UDD Penalties for Minors

 BACLicense SuspensionJail TimeFinesPublic ServicePoints
1st Conviction.02%–.05%3 monthsNoneUp to $150Up to 24 hours4
2nd Conviction.02%–.05%6 months10–90 days$150–$300Up to 24 hours4

DUI Penalties for Minors

 BACLicense SuspensionJail TimeFinesPublic ServicePoints
1st ConvictionAbove .05%9 months5 days to 1 year$600–$1,000Up to 96 hours12
2nd ConvictionAbove .05%12 months48 hours to 6 months$1,100–$1,500Up to 120 hours12

DWAI Penalties for Minors

 BACLicense SuspensionJail TimeFinesPublic ServicePoints
1st ConvictionAbove .05%None2–180 daysUp to $50024–48 hours8
2nd ConvictionAbove .05%12 months10 days to 1 yearUp to $1,50048–120 hours8

Refusing to Take a Sobriety Test

If an officer pulls you over under suspicion for UDD, DUI, or DWAI, you may be asked to take a sobriety or breathalyzer test. While you have the right to refuse the test, the State of Colorado then has the right to suspend your license for a year, even if you are later proven innocent. Refusing the test will not protect you from charges either, and you can still be charged and penalized without it.

Colorado has an "expressed consent" law which means all drivers understand and express their consent to a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test every time they get behind the wheel. Due to this law, you cannot refuse these tests if you are arrested under suspicion of a DUI, DWAI or UDD. Even if you are deceased or unable to speak due to an accident, the officer has the right to run these tests.

Don't Drink and Drive

The penalties above only list what happens if you are caught drinking and driving and get pulled over by an officer. It doesn't include the risk you put yourself and the others around you in when you decide to drink and drive. If you injure someone else, the penalties increase severely. Not only is drinking and driving illegal, it's dangerous, and you should think twice before breaking this law.