What are the penalties for a DUI conviction in Colorado?

Colorado DUI laws include fines of $600 and license suspension. CO DUI auto insurance rates could increase up to 80% after a DUI.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • License suspension for a DUI can cost a driver money to get reinstated and may also make insurance more costly
  • Drivers who are driving under the influence in Colorado will be subject to increased punishments for each offense they commit
  • The minimum sentences in Colorado range from community service to jail time depending on which number of DUI offense a person is on

Colorado has created laws that will help cut down on DUI offenses. Laws like these are part of the reason the DUI fatality rate has been declining for over three decades.

When a person has a DUI charge, they are expected to complete each of the punishments Colorado has in place that were created by the justice system.

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What does a DUI mean in Colorado?

Colorado has laws for driving under the influence. They have set these laws in place to prevent people from driving while they are impaired.

Not only does Colorado have minimum sentences but they also have minimum charges that will be brought against individuals who are caught driving under the influence.

A person who receives a DUI in Colorado will still have a misdemeanor crime for up to three DUIs. The person will then receive a felony for their fourth DUI in a period of time.

While the minimum punishment for the fifth and subsequent ones is the same as it would be for a fourth, but they may receive more charges since they have multiple felony DUIs.

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Legalities of a DUI

Unlike other states, Colorado does not have a look-back period for DUIs. The among of time that a judge looks back on DUI offenses depends on the judge’s discretion and on the length of time that has passed since a person’s last DUI.

Since the judge can decide how long to look back at an offender’s record, there can be major differences in the punishment that each offender receives for a DUI.

Even though a judge can look back on the period of time that a person has had a DUI, they can still choose to punish the person as they see fit.

There are minimums each judge and court of law will have to follow, but they can also require a person to attend treatment or do other things that will help prevent them from committing a DUI again.

Colorado is one of the only states that give judges this much leeway when it comes to the punishment they can dole out for a DUI.

Penalties for a DUI

In all instances, a DUI offender will need to do jail time for the crime they committed as long as they have a BAC of .08 or higher.

The time they do starts out at five days and can increase from there depending on how many DUI charges the person has.

It is especially common for first-time offenders to only get the minimum punishment which does include both jail time and community service that a person will need to do to satisfy the requirements.

What is DWAI in Colorado?

While a DUI does carry minimum sentences in Colorado, there are some exceptions to that. Colorado is one of the few states that has a DWAI law which stands for driving while ability impaired.

This law is in place for people who are not necessarily driving while they are under the influence but are impaired while driving.

The charges are only for people who have been driving with a BAC between .05 and .08. They will not receive a DUI charge, but they will receive a criminal charge.

There is no official minimum sentence for DWAI and most judges do not sentence offenders to jail time.

Misdemeanor DUIs

A person who receives a DUI for the first time, second time or third time within a specified period will receive only misdemeanor charges.

These are still considered serious by most courts of law and they do come with the DUI classification.

Since they are just misdemeanors, though, there is a chance that offenders will not lose some of the same rights as felony offenders do.

First to Third

For a first DUI, the offender will need to surrender their license for nine months and pay a fine between $600 and $1,000. In addition, the offender will need to serve between 5 and 365 days in prison and do between 24 and 48 hours of community service.

Drivers will need to complete the punishment and must fully pay their fine before they are able to get their license back from the suspension.

The second offense comes with a one-year license revocation period in addition to between $600 and $1,500 in fines.

Drivers will have to spend, at least, 10 days in jail, but no more than 365. Drivers who have a second DUI need to do between 48 and 120 hours of public service.

Drivers who have a third offense will lose their license for two years. They will have to spend two months to a year in prison. The fines and community service requirements for third-time offenders are the same as second-time DUI offenders.

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Felony DUIs

After a driver has received three DUIs, they are subject to a felony charge from the court if they are caught doing a fourth DUI. The state has mandatory guidelines for those who have committed a DUI.

The felony law applies to drivers who have DUIs from alcohol and a charge from a marijuana-related offense will not change the number of alcohol-related DUI charges a person has on their record.


A person who has a fourth DUI will have the same minimum punishment as a person who has had a third DUI.

The fines are the same, but a judge may order the person to pay closer to the maximum amount and may require the person to be in jail closer to the maximum amount of time.

The only difference between a third and fourth DUI is that a fourth is considered a Class 4 Felony in Colorado.

Suspense and Insurance

When a person has committed a DUI in Colorado, their license will always be suspended. Colorado requires people to carry SR-22 insurance on their policy after they have a DUI.

The insurance is used to guarantee a person is not going to stop paying their insurance and will prevent them from having a lapse in coverage.

Drivers who have a DUI will find that insurance is more costly than it was without a DUI offense. The SR-22 addition to the insurance policy costs more money and the driver is a bigger risk.

The best thing a driver can do to find the best rates after a DUI charge is to shop around.

Addiction Treatment and DUI Prevention

Colorado requires all drivers who have a DUI to have an interlock device put into their vehicle.

The interlock device is used to ensure the person is not driving under the influence and requires the person to have their breath analyzed before driving the car.

The amount of time an offender has one of these devices is up to the discretion of the judge.

Even though there is no requirement for treatment in Colorado, it is not uncommon for a judge to require an offender to get addiction treatment.

The point of the justice system is to help rehabilitate criminals and a treatment program will come into play when the court is trying to help the offender.

The treatment programs have shown to be extremely effective for those who want to help themselves.

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Will My Auto Insurance Rates Go Up After A DUI?

A DUI charge affects a driver in many ways. Drivers have to pay more for insurance, their charge can have a negative social impact on the driver.

Costly fines and reinstatement fees make it difficult to get around, and people who have a DUI charge may think their life is over because of the expenses and difficulties that come along with the charge.

But a DUI isn’t the end of the world. It’s so important for drivers who have a DUI charge to comparison shop for high-risk insurance since that can be one of the most expensive costs.

Drivers who get their lives on track, seek help for any addiction they have to alcohol or other substances, and follow driving laws in Colorado have a chance for a better life.

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