COLORADO DRUNK DRIVING LAWS
A Publication of the Office of Legislative Legal Services1
Colorado law prohibits a person from driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
or drugs or while the person's ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or drugs. These
offenses are often abbreviated as "DUI" and "DWAI", respectively.
Blood or breath tests play a prominent role in the enforcement of drunk driving laws,
although DUI or DWAI can be proved by other means. A person is presumed to be DWAI
if the test shows a blood alcohol level of more than 0.05 but less than 0.08. A person is
presumed to be DUI if the test shows a blood alcohol level of at least 0.08. A person may
be classified as a persistent drunk driver and subject to greater penalties if the test shows a
blood alcohol level of at least 0.17.
Under the principle of expressed consent, the law presumes that every driver has consented
to take a blood, breath, saliva, or urine test when requested to do so by a law enforcement
officer who has probable cause to believe that the person is DUI or DWAI . Refusal to take
the test is both admissible in court and a basis for revocation of a driver's license.
There are both criminal penalties (fines, imprisonment, and required public service) and
administrative penalties for drunk driving. Courts impose criminal penalties, while the
Colorado Department of Revenue (the Department) imposes the administrative penalties.
Administrative penalties include the suspension or revocation of a license due to the
commission of certain offenses or the accumulation of sufficient points assessed for
Sometimes a driver may reduce his or her criminal penalties through a plea bargain in court
or by undergoing alcohol or drug treatment, but he or she must still face administrative
penalties assessed by the Department. In most cases the Department does not have the
authority to reduce or bargain away these penalties. The following tables summarize the
This summary contains information commonly requested