Colorado DUI and DWAI Laws

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Colorado State DUI and DWAI Laws



What Are DUI and DWAI?

DWAI and DUI are not your typical Colorado traffic tickets with fines. Colorado DUI laws and DWAI laws are harsh, and for good reason. The state has two categories for drinking and driving offenses: Driving While Ability Is Impaired by Alcohol or Drugs (DWAI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI). The difference is the level of alcohol that is in the bloodstream at the time you are tested. The BAC ranges for each offense are:

  • DWAI: BAC between 0.05 and 0.07
  • DUI: BAC over 0.08

Drivers under the age of 21 can be charged with DWAI/DUI if their blood alcohol content is 0.02. Each drinking and driving conviction comes with penalties.

DUI and DWAI Penalties

The penalties for DUI and DWAI in Colorado get increasingly harsher as you receive more convictions. But even the first time you drive under the influence, you'll face serious consequences. Unlike most Colorado traffic tickets and violations, you'll end up with more than a fine and points on your driver's license.

1st DWAI Consequences
  • 2-180 days of jail time
  • $100-$500 fine
  • 24-48 hours of community service
  • 8 points on your driving record toward license suspension

1st DUI Consequences
  • 5 days-1 year of jail time
  • $300-$1,000 fine
  • 48-96 hours of community service
  • Suspended license in Colorado for up to 1 year
  • 3-9 months of alcohol education

1st Underage Drinking and Driving Offense
  • Suspended license in Colorado for up to 3 months
  • 4 points added to your driver's license
  • $100 fine
  • Up to 24 hours of community service

As you can see, getting a DWAI or DUI is no picnic. Colorado DUI laws and DWAI laws are designed to be severe so you won't repeat the offense in the future. After all, one of these charges will follow you for the rest of your life.

Getting Arrested

If you are pulled over on suspicion of drinking and driving, typically the following procedure is put into place:

  • You will be asked to take a breathalyzer test. Keep in mind that refusal to take the test will result in the confiscation (and possible revocation) of your driver's license.
  • Your car will be impounded.
  • You will be taken to jail.

Always follow a police officer's instructions when you are pulled over. Fighting with the officer will not help the situation; it will only make things worse.

Specific Colorado Drinking and Driving Laws

Colorado has a few laws pertaining to driving under the influence that are unique to the state. These include:

  • Express Consent Law: When you drive a motor vehicle in Colorado, you automatically give your consent to be tested for alcohol, whether it's by breath, blood, or urine. If you refuse to take a chemical test when required by law, your driver's license will be revoked for one year.
  • Zero Tolerance Law: This rule applies to drivers who are under the legal drinking age. If you are under 21 and are found to have a BAC between 0.02 and 0.08 when driving, your driver's license will be revoked.
  • Buy and Possess Law: If you are under the age of 21 and purchase alcohol or have alcohol in your possession, your driver's license will be revoked even if you are not driving at the time you are caught.

There's a lot to keep in mind when it comes to drinking and driving. That's why the best rule is always, "don't drink and drive." Avoiding this completely can be challenging, but with so much risk involved, it's worth it to stay away from it. Have a designated driver, call a cab, call a family member—whatever you can do to keep yourself out of the driver's seat when you've been drinking.


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