Colorado law prohibits a person from driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or while the person’s ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or drugs. These offenses are often abbreviated as “DUI” and “DWAI”, respectively.
Blood or breath tests play a prominent role in the enforcement of drunk driving laws, although DUI or DWAI can be proved by other means. A person is presumed to be DWAI if a blood or breath test shows a blood alcohol level of more than 0.05 but less than 0.08.3 A person is presumed to be DUI if a blood or breath test shows a blood alcohol level of at least 0.08. A person may be classified as a persistent drunk driver and subject to greater penalties if the test shows a blood alcohol level of at least 0.17.
Under the principle of expressed consent, the law presumes that every driver has consented to take a blood, breath, saliva, or urine test when requested to do so by a law enforcement officer who has probable cause to believe that the person is DUI or DWAI. Refusal to take the test is both admissible in court and a basis for revocation of a driver’s license.
There are both criminal penalties (fines, imprisonment, and required public service) and administrative penalties for drunk driving. Courts impose criminal penalties, and the Colorado Department of Revenue (the Department) imposes the administrative penalties. Administrative penalties include the suspension or revocation of a license due to the commission of certain offenses or the accumulation of sufficient points assessed for violations.