Colorado DUI Laws

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Colorado DUI laws state that any driver over the age of 21 cannot operate a vehicle if they have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. The limit for underage drivers is 0.02%. Even if the driver is not noticeably impaired, they can be convicted as a DUI Per Se if their BAC is higher than 0.08%.
Each year, over 10,000 people in the US are killed on the road as a result of drunk driving crashes.
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a dangerous crime, and penalties vary by state. Even a first-time offense can cost drivers up to $10,000 in fines and legal fees—and it will most certainly impact your car insurance rates, too.
The car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry has compiled everything you need to know about DUI laws in Colorado.
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What is a DUI?

A DUI refers to driving under the influence, which is classified as impairment caused by alcohol, drugs, or both. This is not the same as a DWI, which is considered driving while intoxicated, but Colorado does not use it. Instead, all alcohol-related driving impairment charges in Colorado are categorized as a DUI.
A DUID refers to driving under the influence of drugs. Colorado’s DUI statute applies the same penalties to a DUID as those for a DUI. Colorado drivers can also be charged with a lesser charge of a DWAI, which is driving while ability impaired. This is reserved for offenders whose BAC is less than 0.08% but above 0.05%.
A DUI could mean that the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination. This does not mean specifically illegal substances and can include marijuana, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medicines. If taking these drugs impairs you in any way while driving, you may be charged with a DUI.
Key Takeaway If you are operating a vehicle while on a substance in Colorado, you could be charged with a DUI, a DUID, or a DWAI depending on your level of impairment.

DUI in Colorado

In Colorado, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of:
  • 0.08% or higher if you’re 21 or older
  • 0.02% if you’re under the age of 21
  • 0.08% or higher if you’re on a DUI probation
Key Takeaway There is zero tolerance for minors driving under the influence. Drivers under the age of 21 who are convicted of a DUI will be tried and punished as adults.
Every state has an implied consent law stipulating that you consent to be tested if you’re suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you’re lawfully arrested for a DUI, you must submit to a urine, blood, or breath test. Colorado drivers who refuse to do so are considered persistent drunk drivers, regardless of how many previous offenses they have committed. It is important to note, you do not have a right to consult with a lawyer before completing the test.

What is a PDD?

A PDD is a Persistent Drunk Driver. This status carries heavier penalties than for those without.
A PPD is a driver who has been previously convicted for a DUI, a first-time offender with a BAC higher than 0.15%, or a driver who refuses to submit to a chemical test.

Penalties for DUI in Colorado

If you are convicted of a DUI in Colorado, the conviction will remain on your driving record for 10 years and on your criminal record indefinitely. There are additional fees and penalties for DUIs, which increase for all subsequent offenses.
The DUI will stay on your driving record for ten years, and you’ll have twelve points assessed against your license. The points will last for two years.

First conviction

PenaltyDescription
FineUp to $500 (DWAI) or up to $1,000 (DUI)
JailUp to 180 days (DWAI) or up to 1 year (DUI) or
License suspension9 months to 1 year
Vehicle impoundmentNo
SR-22 requirementNo
Ignition Interlock Device RequiredNo
If you are not labeled as a PDD, you may qualify for early license reinstatement after one month, as long as you were over the age of 21 at the time of the violation, are a Colorado resident, and have no other unsatisfied license restraints. If you qualify, you are eligible for a restricted license with an ignition interlock device.
Subsequently, if you meet the requirements of the restricted license for four consecutive months—driving only an interlock vehicle and keeping BACs less than .025—you may be eligible for an unrestricted license.
If you are labeled as a PPD, you will have your license revoked for one year. To reinstate your license, you must be over the age of 21 at the time of the violation, a Colorado resident, and have no other unsatisfied license restraints after two months. If you qualify, you can get a restricted license with an ignition interlock device for up to two years.

Subsequent convictions

If you are convicted of a DUI again, you’ll be subject to increased penalties and fees depending on your BAC at the time of the conviction and how much time has passed since the previous conviction. There are harsher penalties for those found with BAC higher than 0.15%.
The revocation and reinstatement process remains largely the same as a first offense, but there are longer periods for reinstatement eligibility and required interlock device usage—along with costlier fines—for all subsequent convictions.
Key Takeaway All DUIs come with minimum penalties, which are often increased if you had a high blood-alcohol concentration, previous offenses, or refused to take a chemical test.
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Does a DUI impact car insurance in Colorado?

Yes. Insurance companies consider a DUI to be one of the most serious driving violations, and you will be labeled a high-risk driver if you have one. High-risk drivers often pay more for insurance, or they may be denied coverage entirely.
Some companies are willing to take on high-risk drivers—and it’s possible to get the coverage you need at a reasonable price. With Jerry, you can quickly compare rates from up to 50 providers, making the process much simpler and more accessible.
Jerry can help you save money, but you should still expect substantially higher rates compared to what you were paying before. The insurance company you ultimately sign with will also need to file an SR-22 in Colorado on your behalf to confirm that you hold the state-mandated minimum insurance.

Other effects of a DUI

Beyond the conviction penalties and higher insurance rates, DUIs can have some other lasting implications.
License revocation: After a DUI, you run the risk of having your license revoked if you’re charged with other serious offenses.
Ignition interlock device: All states have some type of ignition interlock program requiring drivers convicted of a DUI to install an interlock device in their vehicle to disable the engine if alcohol is detected on their breath.
Background checks: Even though a DUI lasts ten years on your driving record, it lasts a lifetime on your criminal record, so it will show up on a background check. This can hurt your future employment endeavors.

How to find cheap insurance after a DUI

Finding insurance is a tedious process with a clean record—but with a DUI, it’s even more so. Regardless of your record, Jerry can help. Once you’ve chosen a quote, Jerry handles the rest—including finalizing paperwork so you don’t have to.
That’s not all—when your policy is up for renewal, Jerry sends you new quotes, so you’re always saving money, no matter what your record looks like.
“I saw an ad for Jerry on Instagram and decided to give it a try. I have a terrible driving record, but Nathan still helped me. Before, almost no one wanted to insure me. Now, I have a great policy and save $200/month. I’m one happy gal!” —Terri C.
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