What is a DUI in Colorado?

Colorado has 3 DUI offenses: DUI, DUI per se, and DWAI.

  • DUI is an abbreviation for “driving under the influence.” DUI means driving a vehicle when you have consumed enough alcohol or drugs to be “substantially incapable” of safely operating a vehicle.
  • DUI per se means driving with a Breath or Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or greater.

What is a DWAI?

DWAI means “Driving While Ability Impaired.” It is a lower offense than a DUI. You will be charged with a DWAI if your BAC is .051, but less than .08.

What is a BAC?

BAC means your breath or blood alcohol content expressed in scientific terms.

What is the punishment for DUI?

The maximum punishment is 1 year in jail, a $1,000 fine, 96 hours of community service, an alcohol evaluation, a 24-hour alcohol education class, and up to 86 hours of alcohol therapy. First-time offenders almost never get jail. Jail is required for second offenders and drivers with BACs over .20. But, sometimes, a jail substitute, such as electronic home monitoring, can be arranged. A third DUI requires 60 days or more days in jail.

What happens to my driver’s license if I have a DUI in Colorado?

A Department of Revenue hearing officer, not the court, decides what happens to your driver’s license. If you have a BAC of .08 or greater, your driver’s license will be revoked for a minimum of nine months. First offenders may have the revocation reduced to as little as 30 days by obtaining an ignition interlock. You can prevent the BAC revocation only if you (1) ask for a hearing within 7 days after a breath test and (2) win the hearing.

How do I get a hearing if my driver’s license is revoked?

Don’t walk, run to the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office and request a hearing. You are permitted to drive with a temporary driver’s license until the date of your hearing.

If I did not ask for a driver’s license hearing within seven days, can I still get a hearing?

Not unless you were in jail, hospitalized or have some other extraordinary circumstance.

If my driver’s license was revoked, how do I get it back?

Once your driver’s license is revoked, it stays revoked until you reinstate it. You must apply to DMV to reinstate.

If I am illegal, should I reinstate, even though I can’t get a driver’s license?

Yes! And you should because driving under revocation subjects you to a 30-day mandatory jail term.

Do I have to take roadside field sobriety tests?

No! And you should not take the roadside tests, including the portable or handheld breath test. The police cannot force you to take the roadside tests. If you do take the tests, the officer decides how well or how poorly you did. The results can and will be used
against you later.

Do I have to take a chemical test of my blood or breath if told to do so?

No, but you will have your driver’s license revoked for a minimum of 1 year if you don’t (subject to a hearing). If your license is revoked for a “refusal,” there is no work-related driving and the revocation runs consecutively with other suspensions and revocations.

Can I talk to a lawyer before I take a blood or breath test?

No. You do not have the right to consult a lawyer before deciding on testing.

Which chemical test should I take?

We recommend the blood test because it is more accurate. Colorado’s breath testing machine has a built-in error of up to 30%.

Can I get my DUI thrown out if my traffic stop was handled improperly?

Yes! The police must have probable cause that you committed a traffic offense or a “reasonable suspicion” that you are DUI in order to stop you in the first place.

How can a lawyer help me?

  1. He can challenge your traffic stop and arrest.
  2. He can plea bargain with the prosecutor for you or take your case to a jury trial.
  3. He can represent you in your driver’s license revocation hearing.
  4. He can help you in sentencing.
  5. He can get you started on the road to rehabilitation if you have an alcohol problem.

Cost of Drunk Driving Conviction

Docket Fee$21
Victim Assistance Fund$78
Victim Compensation Fund$78
Law Enforcement Assistance Fund$90
Brain Injury Trust Fund$15
Persistent Drunk Driver Fund$50-$500
Restitution for Chemical Test$50
Alcohol Evaluation$200
Alcohol Education Classes$350
Alcohol Therapy$2,000
Victim Impact Panel$25
Community Service Fee$120
Vehicle Tow$150
Vehicle Storage$100
Bail Bondsman Fee$500
Auto Insurance Increase (x 3 yrs)$4,800
Driver’s License Reinstatement$95
Worst Case Total$10,000

Tune into our radio show
Punto Legal

Wednesdays, 5-6 pm

94.5 FM / Garfield & Mesa Counties

102.5 FM / Eagle County

107.1 / Summit County

Serving Western Colorado