DUI Laws in Colorado 2023: How Much Alcohol Can You Drink and Drive?

Drink and drive laws in Colorado

The allowable blood alcohol content (BAC) level in Colorado is 0.08% or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.

However, you may still be charged for a DUI even though your BAC is less than 0.05%.

The 0.08% limit is equal to one to two alcoholic beverages in the standard size. Yet, this sum may change based on a person’s gender, age, stature, and other characteristics.

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.

According to 2020 statistics, there were 622 traffic-related fatalities in Colorado, and 30% of those were caused by drunk drivers with a BAC level of 0.08%, while 21% were those with a BAC level of 0.15%.

In 2021, there were 691 fatalities on Colorado’s highways, and 37% of those deaths were drunk drivers.

To prevent drunk driving, Colorado has DUI driving regulations. So, adhering to Colorado’s legal BAC limit is crucial before getting in a car. Consider using a designated driver or a taxi if you must travel after drinking.

You can stay updated with the most recent DUI driving laws and regulations by visiting Colorado’s official website.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Colorado

You may face DUI driving charges in Colorado if your BAC level is 0.05% or higher.

Blood alcohol levels may differ from person to person since alcohol has different effects on different persons. Some people may experience confusion even after a small amount of alcohol.

Your BAC may change depending on a number of variables, such as

  • weight,
  • gender,
  • medication intake,
  • mood (including stress and fatigue levels), and
  • the quantity of alcohol consumption.

For guidance, use a BAC chart or a BAC calculator to determine how much alcohol you can consume before operating a motor vehicle. Yet, because everybody responds to alcohol differently, these instruments might not be effective for everyone.

The best exact method for determining your BAC is by utilizing a reliable alcohol breathalyzer.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Colorado

According to a study, a BAC of 0.05% results in considerable impairment and impairs driving abilities. The affected skill areas were reflexes, attention, cognition, and psychomotor skills.

There are different drunk driving regulations in each state. It’s crucial to check your blood alcohol content before driving to avoid consequences.

If you are convicted of impaired driving, you could suffer both legal and administrative repercussions.

Colorado’s DUI driving penalties are listed below.


Driving in Colorado with a 0.08% or higher BAC is illegal. If a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or more, Colorado prosecutors may charge them with DUI Per Se, even if they are operating their vehicle safely and do not feel impaired.

DWAI refers to driving with impaired ability. A driver with a BAC of 0.05% to less than 0.08% may be guilty of DWAI, even if they appear sober.

The following punishment may apply for DUI and DWAI driving.

DUI Penalties

Offense Conviction
First Offense
  • At least five days but not more than one year in prison
  • $600-$1,000 in fine
  • Community service of 48 to 96 hours 
  • License suspension for nine months
  • Alcohol education program
  • Two years or more of probation
Second Offense
  • At least ten days but not more than one year in jail
  • $600 to $1,500 fine
  • Community service 48 to 120 hours
  • License suspension for one year
  • Two years with an ignition interlock device
  • Alcohol education program
  • Minimum two years of probation
Third Offense
  • 60 days in a row to a year in prison
  • A fine of $600 to $1,500
  • 48 to 120 hours of community service
  • License suspension for two years
  • Two years of IID
  • Alcohol education programs
  • Two years or more of probation

DWAI Penalties

Offense Conviction
First Offense
  • Two to 180 days in prison
  • $200-$500 fine
  • Civic duty of 24-48 hours
  • Two years or more of probation
Second Offense
  • At least ten days but not more than one year in jail
  • $600-$1,500 fine
  • Community service of 48 to 120 hours
  • License suspension for one year
  • Two years or more of probation
Third Offense
  • 60 days in a row to a year in prison
  • $600-$1,500 fine
  • Volunteer work of 48–120 hours
  • License suspension for two years
  • Two years or more of probation

When Can You Drink and Drive in Colorado?

As was mentioned earlier, alcohol affects people differently. Besides that, men and women have different BAC levels.

Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) is a more abundant enzyme in men’s systems than women’s. Since they primarily facilitate alcohol absorption, these enzymes cause men’s accelerated alcohol metabolism. Men, therefore, absorb alcohol more quickly than women.

You may use the information below as a general reference to determine how much alcohol you can legally consume before driving in Colorado.

Although the following information is based on studies, it might not apply to everyone because alcohol affects people differently.

How Many Bottles of Beers Can You Drink and Drive in Colorado?

Drink beer and drive in Colorado

This BAC chart shows that one 12-ounce (350 ml) beer can result in a BAC of 0.02% for a male weighing around 72 kg (160 lbs).

On the other hand, a female of equal weight and beer consumption can have a BAC of 0.03%.

BAC charts calculate a person’s post-alcohol BAC based on their weight and amount of alcohol consumed. These charts show that lighter people tend to have a higher BAC after drinking alcohol.

Therefore, one to two beer bottles are enough to maintain a BAC below Colorado’s legal limit.

How Many Glasses of Wine Can You Consume and Drive in Colorado?

Up to 12% ABV can be present in a standard glass of wine (142 ml/5 oz). Two glasses of wine will put you below Colorado’s legal BAC limit, similar to the example above.

How Much Whiskey or Vodka Can You Drink and Drive in Colorado?

A shot of whiskey or vodka has a volume of 44 ml (1.5 oz) and can have up to 40% alcohol by volume. Heavy liquor consumption could wreak havoc if you plan to drive afterward because of their high alcohol level.

If you can’t avoid driving after drinking, a shot or two of whiskey or vodka should keep you within the allowable BAC limit in Colorado.

Sticking to Impaired Driving Laws in Colorado

Every driver needs to be aware of the dangers of drunk driving.

The smartest and safest decision is to refrain from driving after drinking. Your blood alcohol content and driving capacity are never assured, even if you only had a few bottles.

Only an alcohol breathalyzer can accurately determine your BAC level since every person processes alcohol differently.

If you are drunk, look into other transportation options. You might ask a buddy to drive you, use Uber, or a taxi service.

If driving after drinking is unavoidable, check your blood alcohol content before getting behind the wheel and ensure it is within Colorado’s legal BAC limit.

We also encourage you to check the official website of Colorado to become familiar with the DUI driving regulations.

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.