Colorado DUI Law

DUI Jail Requirements

In 2010 Colorado's DUI law changed to include mandatory jail for most repeat offenses. Since August 2015, fourth or subsequent DUIs are prosecuted as felonies. The penalties that are ultimately imposed for a DUI are influenced by several factors. Some of these factors are: the particular fact pattern in your case (e.g., was there an accident) whether there are prior DUI arrests, your alcohol level within two hours of driving, the county in which the incident occurred 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 law, in-home-detention (IHD). If IHD sentences are prohibited, any sentence must be served as real jail time. Courts will not "negotiate" for a bigger fine or more community service in lieu of mandatory jail time. The vast majority of 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 will house residents in their jail for sentences imposed by other counties. If you are allowed to transfer a jail sentence expect to pay about $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, 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 the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) followed by three years of mandatory parole. 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 temporarily or permanently effected depending on where you reside. You will be forever barred from serving in the military or holding many type 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 major difference is that the district attorney must prove as an element of the offense, that the defendant has been convicted at least three previous times for offenses that would constitue 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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