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FAQ: DUIs in Colorado

Posted on January 12, 2023

Here are some common questions we receive regarding DUIs in Colorado.

Q: What do I say when the officer asks me if I have been drinking?

A: You do not have to say anything and can hand the officer your license, registration, and proof of insurance when requested. It cannot be used against you or mentioned in court if you remain silent.

Q: Should I agree to take a chemical test of my blood?

A: The officer will ask you to give a blood or breath sample. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer as to whether you should or, if so, which one. The advantage of refusing is that there will be no proof that your BAC was over the limit. However, you can still be charged with DUI or DWAI, and there are further repercussions if you refuse, such as your driver’s license being automatically suspended for one year.

Q: Can I still be charged with a DUI even if my BAC is below the legal limit? 

A: Yes, you can be charged with a DUI even if your blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) was below the legal limit of .08. If your BAC is between a .05 and a .08 within two hours after driving, you are presumed impaired, and you can still be prosecuted.

Q: Will I go to jail for my DUI?

A: For a first-time offense, you face fines of up to $1,000, up to 96 hours of public service, probation, alcohol education, and treatment, driver’s license suspension, and up to a year in jail. If you have prior convictions for a DUI, you will have mandatory jail time. You can see a complete list of penalties here.

Q: When is a DUI considered a felony?

A: A DUI can escalate to a felony charge under the following circumstances:

  • It is your fourth or subsequent DUI offense
  • You caused an accident involving serious injury
  • You caused a car accident resulting in a fatality

Q: What is the difference between DUI and DWAI?

A: DUI stands for “driving under the influence,” and individuals can be charged with DUI if their BAC is greater than 0.8%. DWAI, on the other hand, stands for “driving while ability impaired.” This is a less serious offense for offenders with a BAC between 0.5% and 0.8%.

Q: Will I lose my driver’s license?

A Department of Revenue hearing officer decides what happens to your driver’s license rather than the court. If you had a BAC of .08 or greater, your driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum of nine months. First offenders may have the revocation reduced to as little as 30 days by obtaining an ignition interlock. You can prevent the BAC revocation only if you (1) ask for a hearing within seven days after a breath test and (2) win the hearing.

Q: Can I represent myself in my DUI case?

A: Although you can legally represent yourself, it is not advised to do so. Colorado’s DUI laws are complex and require specialized knowledge to interpret them. Therefore, by hiring a DUI defense attorney, you are much more likely to receive a positive outcome, such as reduced charges, penalties, or your case being dismissed altogether.