Colorado Drunk Driving Laws

When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in Colorado?

  • Non-commercial drivers age 21+ are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .08 or more.
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .04 percent or greater. In Colorado, school bus drivers are commercial drivers.
  • Drivers under 21 are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .02 or more.

Penalties for Drunk Driving in Colorado

  • First-time offenders face a term of imprisonment in a county jail of five days to one year. They must also pay a fine of $300 to $1,000 and perform 48 to 96 hours of public service work. Generally, a first-time offender’s license will be revoked for three months. The offender can, however, request that the license be revoked for not less than 30 days, followed by a suspension period, so that the total revocation and suspension period equals six months. If the offender’s BAC was .17 or above, the probationary license is conditioned on the use of an ignition interlock device for one year. The time served under a probationary license is not credited against the one-year mandatory interlock restriction.
  • Second-time offenders, regardless of the date of the first offense, face a term of imprisonment in a county jail of 90 days to one year. They must also pay a fine of $500 to $1,500 and perform 60 to 120 hours of public service work. The driver’s license revocation period is one year.
  • Third-time offenders, regardless of the date of the previous offense, are subject to a term of imprisonment in a county jail of 70 days to one year. They must also pay a fine of $450 to $1,500 and perform 56 to 120 hours of public service work. The driver’s license revocation period is one year.
  • Persons who have been convicted of DUI three or more times within a seven-year period are “habitual offenders,” and their licenses will be revoked for at least five years.

Ignition Interlock

  • Any person who has been convicted of DUI on two or more occasions within a five-year period must hold a restricted license which requires the use of an interlock ignition system for at least one year.
  • Any person whose license was revoked because the person’s BAC was .17 or more must hold a restricted license and use an interlock ignition system for at least one year.
  • A “persistent drunk driver” is required to hold an interlock restricted license for at least two years. A “persistent drunk driver” is any person who has been convicted of or has had his or her driver’s license revoked for two or more alcohol-related driving offenses; a person who continues to drive after a driver’s license restraint has been imposed for one or more alcohol-related driving offenses; or a person who drives with a BAC of .17 or more.
  • Habitual offenders (persons who have been convicted of DUI three or more times within a seven-year period) are not eligible to participate in the ignition interlock program.

Commercial Drivers

In addition to other penalties that may be imposed under Colorado’s DUI laws, a commercial driver who commits a first DUI while driving any vehicle will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year. If, however, the offense was committed while the driver was operating a commercial vehicle and transporting hazardous materials, the disqualification period is three years. If a commercial driver is convicted of a second DUI while driving any vehicle, the offender will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for life, which may or may not be reduced to a period of 10 years.

Drivers Under 21

In addition to other penalties that may apply, a driver under 21 who commits a DUI with a BAC in excess of .05 but less than .08 will have his or her driver’s license revoked for three months for the first offense. If the underage offender’s BAC was not more than .05, the revocation period is at least 30 days to be followed by a suspension period so that the total period of revocation and suspension is three months. Second-time offenders receive a six-month driver’s license revocation. Third and subsequent offenders receive a one-year driver’s license revocation.

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What is Colorado’s Civil Liability Statute

Under Colorado law, a drinking establishment will be civilly liable to an injured person when the person can prove that the establishment willfully and knowingly sold alcohol to a person under 21 or to a person who was visibly intoxicated and that the sale or service caused the injury. Under this statute, the civil action must be filed within one year after the sale or service. Additionally, damages cannot exceed $150,000. Each year, however, this damage cap is adjusted for inflation. This action can only be filed by a third person who was injured because a tavern sold alcohol to a minor or a visibly intoxicated person. In other words, the action cannot be brought by the person to whom the alcohol was sold or served or by his or her estate, legal guardian, or dependent.

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What is Colorado’s Social Host Law?

A social host is civilly liable to an injured person if the injured person can prove that the social host knowingly served alcohol to a person under 21 or knowingly provided an underage drinker with a place to drink alcohol and that the injury was caused because of the minor’s intoxication. Under this statute, the civil action must be filed within one year after such service. Additionally, damages cannot exceed $150,000. Each year, however, this damage cap is adjusted for inflation. This action can only be filed by a third person who was injured because a social host knowingly furnished alcohol to a person under 21 or provided an underage drinker with a place to drink. In other words, the civil action cannot be brought by the underage drinker, his estate, legal guardian, or dependent.

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What is Colorado’s “Damages for Selling Liquor to a Drunkard” Statute

Under this statute, every husband, wife, child, parent, guardian, employer, or other person who suffers personal injury, property damage, or a loss of financial support as a consequence of the intoxication of a habitual drunkard, has a right of action against the person who sold or gave liquor to and caused the intoxication of the habitual drunkard, so long as the plaintiff provided written notice to the defendant not to sell or give liquor to the habitual drunkard.

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Criminal Penalties for Selling Alcohol to a Visibly Intoxicated Person

Under Colorado law, it is a crime to sell alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. This crime is punishable by three months to one year imprisonment, a fine of $250 to $1,000, or both.

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Criminal Penalties for Selling Alcohol to a Minor

In Colorado, it is a crime to sell alcohol to a minor. This crime is punishable by six to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of $500 to $5,000, or both. If, however, the minor was under 18, the offender faces two to six years in prison, followed by a three-year mandatory parole period, plus a fine between $2,000 and $5,000.

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Criminal Penalties for Giving Alcohol to a Minor

In Colorado, it is a crime to give alcohol to a minor. This crime is punishable by six to 18 months in prison, a fine of $500 to $5,000, or both. If, however, the minor was under 18, the punishment is two to six years in prison, followed by a three-year mandatory parole period, plus a fine of $2,000 to $5,000.

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Driver’s License Suspension for Providing Alcohol to a Minor

Any person, other than an employee of a business licensed to sell alcohol, who is convicted of providing alcohol to a minor faces a driver’s license suspension of at least six months.

Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.

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Note: Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. This information is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, although if you are injured in an accident, we have relationships with other personal injury attorneys and lawyers throughout the United States.

Please note: All of our lawyers are licensed to practice in the state of Pennsylvania. We also have lawyers licensed to practice in Ohio, and West Virginia and we associate with experienced attorneys in other states.

The materials at this web site have been prepared by our Law Firm for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. These materials do not, and are not, intended to constitute legal advice. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. The information provided at this site is subject to change without notice. Although we try to keep our site current and accurate, you should not rely on this information or its applicability to any specific circumstances without speaking with an attorney.
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