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Driving Under the Influence and Ability Impaired

Driving Under the Influence requires that the prosecution proves that the defendant was driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Driving While Ability Impaired is a lesser included offense in which the prosecution must show drugs or alcohol had a slight effect.


In Colorado, there is a rebuttable presumption that one is driving under the influence if the blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or more. For DWAI, the presumption arises if the BAC is .05 or more.

There are many ways to challenge a DUI or DWAI charge starting with the stop itself. If the officer did not have a legitimate reason to stop the car, there is an argument that the evidence obtained after the stop should be suppressed by the Court.

Other serious traffic offenses include Driving Under Suspension, Hit and Run, Vehicular Assault and Careless Driving. Below is a chart showing the sentencing ranges for some serious traffic offenses. Please note that in Colorado, a fourth DUI is now a Class 4 Felony with possible prison time. However, defendants convicted of a Felony DUI are eligible for probation and many obtain probation with a lengthy jail sentence instead of prison.

Sentencing Chart for Serious Traffic Offenses

Charge Jail Range Mandatory Jail Max Jail Fines Public Service
DWAI 1st 2 – 180 days None 180 Days $200 to $500 24 to 48 hours
DUI 1st 5 days to 1 year None 1 Year $600 to $1,000 48 to 96 hours
2nd DWAI 45 days to 1 year 10 days 1 Year $600 to $1,000 48 to 96 hours
DWAI w/ Prior DUI 60 days to 1 year 6 days 1 year $800 to $1,200 52 to 104 hours
DUI w/ Prior DWAI 70 days to 1 year 7 days 1 year $900 to $1,500 56 to 112 hours
DUI 2nd 90 days to 1 year 10 days 1 year $1,000 to $1,500 60 to 120 hours
1st UDD none none none $100 Up to 24 hours
DUR Alcohol 30 days to 1 year 30 days 1 year $500 to $1,000 To Be Decided
DUI and BAC more than.2 10 days to 1 year 10 days 1 year $1,000 to $1,500 60 to 120 hours

DMV Consequences for DUIs and DWAIs

Express Consent

Colorado has enacted an Express Consent Law which requires any driver to consent to a chemical test if law enforcement has reasonable grounds to believe the driver is under the influence or their ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired because of alcohol, drugs or both.

DMV Hearings

If you received a notice of revocation you have seven days to go to a driver license office to request a hearing. If the license was not surrendered at the time of the stop, it will be required to be surrendered to DMV to receive a temporary driving permit. Contact the DMV hearing section at 303-205-5606. For information about how to request a hearing, please call 303-205-5613.

Alcohol Course

The court may require you to complete a series of alcohol classes as a condition of a plea bargain or a deferred sentence for an alcohol-related offense. There are also circumstances in which the court may not order you to take alcohol classes, but Colorado law will require these classes as a condition of driver license reinstatement.

If you are an out of state driver and need to reinstate with the State of Colorado and have a requirement for Level II Drug/Alcohol Education/Therapy you must have an evaluation done by an alcohol treatment center or alcohol therapist in the state where you reside. You cannot reinstate with the State of Colorado until you can provide

documentation that you have met the requirements of the center or therapist. A summary of the evaluation should be submitted on letterhead from the alcohol treatment center or therapist and must specify the beginning and ending dates as well as the hours required to fulfill their requirements. For more information on alcohol classes view the Level I and Level II Classes Brochure.

Early Reinstatement (Interlock)

Some individuals subject to driving restraints related to alcohol or drug issues may be allowed to reinstate their driving privileges ahead of their normal eligibility date if they participate in the Ignition Interlock program.

Early reinstatement is limited to drivers who:

  • Are residents of Colorado;
  • Are 21 years of age or older at the time of the violation;
  • Have satisfied all reinstatement requirements (other than time);
  • Have a Per Se or DUI conviction and have already served one month for the alcohol related restraint; or
  • Have a Refusal of a BAC test and have already served two months for the alcohol related restraint

Drivers wishing to know if they are eligible to participate in the Interlock program should call Driver Services at 303-205-5613 to inquire about early reinstatement.

If you are charged with a serious traffic offense it is important to hire an experienced defense attorney to protect your rights. Call now to talk to an attorney about your situation.



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