Colorado DUI Laws

Colorado DUI - Mandatory Penalties

Colorado's DUI law requires mandatory jail for most drunk driving offenses if you have prior convictions or drove with a high blood alcohol concentration. Since August 2015, fourth or subsequent DUIs are prosecuted as class 4 felonies with potential for a 6 year prison sentence. The penalties that are ultimately imposed for a DUI are influenced by several factors. Some of these factors are: the fact pattern in your case (e.g., was there an accident, were you stopped at a DUI check point, were you parked and was your engine running) do you have other DUI arrests, your alcohol level within two hours of driving, whether you cooperated with police, the county in which the incident occurred, the judge who hears your case and how you defend or don't defend yourself against the charges. Jail is mandatory for DUI in Colorado if you have prior alcohol related offenses. Jail is also mandatory above 0.2 BAC level even for a first offense.

Mandatory Jail

Mandatory Jail can mean actual "time in jail" or, if allowed by Colorado DUI law, in-home-detention (IHD). If IHD sentences are prohibited, any sentence must be served as real jail time. Colorado courts will not "negotiate" for a bigger fine or more community service in lieu of mandatory jail time. A "mandatory penalty" is fixed by the state legislature. The vast majority of dui jail sentences are served in the county where the DUI occurred, however, out-of-state defendants can sometimes serve any jail time in their home state. Some counties (e.g., Jefferson County) may house residents in their jail for sentences imposed by other counties. If you are allowed to transfer a jail sentence expect to pay at least $25.00 per day to stay as a "guest."

Probation Requirements

Regardless of whether jail is imposed, fines, court costs, "alcohol education" and "community service" must be imposed by law in all but a few cases. You will be required to attend a Mother's Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), Victim's Impact Panel. You will be required to abstain from alcohol and illegal drugs and do alcohol education and treatment. Required alcohol education and treatment for a DUI or DWAI ranges from 12 hours to 110 hours. Education and treatment are determined by a "standardized" treatment evaluation administered by the county probation department. Community-service can be given in the range of twenty-four to one hundred twenty hours as determined by the court or as part of a plea bargain.

Colorado Felony DUI

Following the national trend, a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction in Colorado will be punished as a felony. The Colorado felony dui law went into effect on August 5, 2015 for drunk driving offenses that occur after that date. Violations that count as prior offenses for felony dui purposes include, drunk driving convictions, vehicular assault convictions and vehicular homicide convictions. Penalties range from two (2) years to six (6) years in a Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) prison, followed by three years of mandatory parole during which you will be closely monitored by a parole officer. The sentencing court may however sentence you to a community corrections program instead of prison if such sentence would promote rehabilitation.

Felony DUI carries with it all of the civil disabilities of any other felony. First, there is a permanent disability to own possess firearms. Your voting rights may be lost. You will be forever barred from serving in the military or holding many types of jobs, such as police officer, private investigator or teacher. Most employers will not even consider hiring felon. Many countries, such as Canada, will not admit a convicted felon.

The proof required to convict you of Felony DUI is the same as any other drunk driving offense with one major difference. The district attorney must prove as an element of the felony DUI offense, that the defendant has been convicted at least three previous times for offenses that would constitute an alcohol related offense in Colorado.


Driving under the influence of drugs, "DUI-D" and Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs "DWAI-D" carry the same criminal penalties as an alcohol related DUI and DWAI. Driver's license consequences are at the current time are different from alcohol related offenses. Because there are no "per se" levels set at which one is considered intoxicated on drugs as there are for alcohol so there are no license revocations unless there is a conviction. The Colorado Legislature has considered setting drug per se levels, but, so far none have been established (there is however a permissible inference of marijuana intoxication at 5ng/ml blood). Jail penalties, probation and fines are the same whether alcohol or drugs or both are involved in a DUI offense.

Under 21 DUI

Alcohol offenses in the adult ranges, 0.05 and above carry the same criminal penalties as those imposed upon adults. There are additional penalties for under-age "drunk driving" aka "UDD." The threshold for alcohol related offenses for minor drivers is 0.02 BAC rather than 0.05 BAC. An alcohol driving offense in the range of 0.02 to 0.05 is often called a "baby DUI." On the criminal side of the DUI process, a first baby DUI carries fines, points and community service. A second or subsequent "baby" can be punished as a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense i.e., up to 90 days in jail, fines, court costs and community service.

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