Colorado’s 2024 Alcohol Limits for Driving

Drink and drive laws in Colorado

The maximum permissible blood alcohol content (BAC) level in Colorado should not surpass 0.08%, equivalent to 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that you can still face DUI charges if your BAC is below 0.05%.

Please remember that this post is solely intended to provide information about drunk driving in Colorado. This page does not intend to promote or encourage DUI driving in any state or place.

What is the legal alcohol limit for driving in Colorado?

In Colorado, the legal alcohol limit for driving is set at a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.05% or lower. This means that if your BAC level exceeds 0.05%, you could be subject to DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) charges. It is crucial to understand and abide by these regulations to ensure safe and responsible driving on Colorado’s roads.

Drink and Drive Penalties and Punishments in Colorado

In Colorado, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol carries severe penalties and consequences. It’s crucial to understand the fines, jail time, community service, and additional fees associated with DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) convictions. Keep in mind that these penalties may vary based on individual cases, and it’s essential to consult the official state’s website for the most up-to-date information.

Fines and Penalties:

  1. 1st DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired):
    • Jail: 2-180 days
    • Fines: $200-$500
    • Community Service: 24-48 hours
  2. 1st DUI (Driving Under the Influence):
    • Jail: 5 days – 1 year
    • Fines: $600-$1000
    • Community Service: 48-96 hours
  3. DWAI or DUI with one previous DWAI or DUI:
    • Jail: 10 days – 1 year
    • Fines: $600-$1500
    • Community Service: 48-120 hours
  4. DWAI or DUI with two previous DWAIs or DUIs:
    • Jail: 60 days – 1 year
    • Fines: $60-$1500
    • Community Service: 48-120 hours
  5. Fourth DUI (Class 4 Felony):
    • Jail: 90-180 days or 2-6 years in prison
    • Fines: $2000-$500,000
    • Community Service: 48-120 hours

Additional Fees:

In addition to fines and penalties, individuals convicted of DUI or DWAI in Colorado may be required to pay several additional fees, including:

  • Victim Assistance Fund: $78 (or up to 37% of DUI fine, whichever is higher)
  • Victim Compensation Fund: $33
  • Alcohol Treatment Evaluation: $200
  • Law Enforcement Assistance Fund: $90
  • Brain Injury Fund: $20
  • Persistent Drunk Driving Surcharge: $100-$500
  • Court Costs: $21
  • Court Security Fund: $5
  • Genetic Testing Surcharge: $2.50
  • Useful Public Service: Up to $120
  • Probation Supervision Fees: $50 per month
  • Rural Alcohol and Substance Abuse Fund: $1-$10
  • Victim Impact Panel: Up to $50

It’s important to note that these costs can add up significantly, making the financial impact of a DUI or DWAI conviction substantial.

Education and Treatment:

Both the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Court will require individuals convicted of DUI or DWAI to complete alcohol and drug education and treatment programs to reinstate their driving privileges. The number of hours and the minimum time period for completion depend on various factors, including prior DUI offenses and blood alcohol content (BAC).

Ensure you fulfill these educational and treatment requirements as directed, as failing to do so can result in extended penalties and continued suspension of your driving privileges.

Stay informed about the latest DUI and DWAI regulations and penalties by frequently checking the official state’s website. Responsible choices behind the wheel not only safeguard lives but also protect your future.

How Can I Calculate If My Alcohol Blood Limit Is Legal in Colorado?

To determine if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is within legal limits in Colorado, it’s essential to understand how law enforcement identifies these levels. Additionally, I recommend two reliable methods for individuals to check their BAC, based on my experience as a former phlebotomist with ten years of expertise in the field.

How Police Identify BAC Levels in Colorado:

In Colorado, law enforcement uses various methods to identify a driver’s BAC level, which is a crucial factor in determining if they are driving under the influence. One common method is the use of breathalyzers, which measure the amount of alcohol vapor in a person’s breath. When a driver is pulled over and suspected of DUI or DWAI, they may be asked to take a breath test. If the BAC level registers at 0.08% or higher, they can be charged with DUI Per Se.

Recommended Methods to Check Your BAC:

  1. High-Quality Alcohol Breathalyzer:
    • Based on my extensive experience, I recommend using a high-quality alcohol breathalyzer to estimate your BAC accurately. In Colorado, one reliable option is the BACtrack S80. It is known for its Professional-Grade Accuracy and is approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Additionally, it has received FDA 510(k) clearance, making it a trusted choice.
    • I strongly advise keeping a breathalyzer in your car, as it can be a valuable tool to help you gauge your BAC level before getting behind the wheel. It’s crucial because people in Colorado may sometimes underestimate their BAC levels, which can lead to impaired driving.
  2. BAC Calculator:
    • Another method you can use is an online BAC calculator. I collaborated with fellow phlebotomists and web developers to create a BAC calculator that is available online. This tool allows you to estimate your BAC based on various factors such as your weight, the number of drinks consumed, and the duration of consumption.

It’s important to note that both methods, while helpful, won’t provide 100% accurate results. However, they can give you a general idea of your BAC and serve as a valuable reminder to avoid driving when you exceed the legal limit of 0.08%. Responsible decision-making regarding alcohol consumption and driving is essential for your safety and the safety of others on the road.

Ways to Avoid Driving with a High BAC in Colorado

Drink beer and drive in Colorado

Driving with a high Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) in Colorado not only poses a significant risk to your safety but can also result in serious legal consequences. To prevent such situations and ensure responsible drinking habits, here are some recommended ways to avoid driving with a high BAC in Colorado:

  1. Utilize Ride-Sharing Apps:
    • Consider using ride-sharing apps like Uber or Lyft, which are widely available in Colorado. These services offer a convenient and reliable way to get home safely after consuming alcohol.
    • By simply installing the app on your phone and requesting a ride, you can have a designated driver arrive at your location promptly, reducing the temptation to drive under the influence.
  2. Local Taxi Companies:
    • In addition to ride-sharing apps, you can rely on local taxi companies for a safe ride home. For example, in Denver, you can contact services like Peak 1 Express, while in Colorado Springs, Rocky Mountain Ride is a reputable option.
    • Local taxi companies often have a strong presence in their respective areas and can provide reliable transportation when needed.
  3. Designated Driver Services:
    • If you’ve already driven to a location where you’ve consumed alcohol and don’t want to leave your car behind, consider using designated driver services. These services are dedicated to getting you and your vehicle home safely.
    • In Denver, you can explore options like, while in Colorado Springs, you can search for services by simply Googling “designated driver service” in your city. Many such services are available to provide a responsible driver to take you home in your own car.

Remember, the consequences of driving with a high BAC can be severe, including legal penalties, potential accidents, and harm to yourself and others on the road. Planning ahead and using these transportation options can help ensure your safety and the safety of the community while enjoying your time in Colorado. Responsible choices when it comes to drinking and driving are essential to protect lives and prevent unnecessary legal troubles.


Sticking to Impaired Driving Laws in Colorado: Sad Statistics

In 2020, Colorado witnessed 622 traffic-related fatalities, with 30% caused by drunk drivers at BAC levels of 0.08%, and 21% at 0.15%. In 2021, 37% of the 691 fatalities were due to drunk driving.

To prevent this, adhere to Colorado’s legal BAC limit, considering designated drivers or taxis after drinking. Stay updated on DUI laws at Colorado’s official website.

Remember, drunk driving is dangerous. It’s safest to avoid driving altogether after consuming alcohol. Only a breathalyzer can accurately measure your BAC, and everyone processes alcohol differently.

Explore alternative transportation like Uber or a taxi if you’ve been drinking. If driving is unavoidable, check your BAC to ensure it’s within Colorado’s legal limit and stay informed about DUI regulations on the official state website.

About the author

Ashley Cresswell

Ashley Cresswell is a former phlebotomist with a passion for road safety. During her time as a phlebotomist, Ashley administered over 1000 blood alcohol tests to impaired drivers and was shocked to discover that many of them were simply uninformed about the legal limits for driving under the influence. As a result, Ashley conducted extensive research on scientific studies and local laws to bring drivers a comprehensive resource on drink and drive limits from around the world.