Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in CO – What You Need to Know

Driving under the influence of drugs

Driving may be a necessary activity for many,
but it can also be a very dangerous one. As such, the state has put in place a
number of laws that are designed to deter unsafe driving and reduce the risk of
accidents. When a traffic law is violated, penalties can range from a warning
or ticket with mild fine to jail time, depending on the offense.

One of the more serious offenses in Colorado
is that of driving under the influence of drugs. If you have been charged with
driving under the influence of drugs in our state, here’s an overview of what
you need to know:

Two Drug-Related Driving Crimes in Colorado

The first thing that you should know is how
“drug” is defined in Colorado and how offenses related to the use of drugs
while operating a motor vehicle are defined.

Per Colorado law, a drug is defined as any
prescription or over-the-counter medications, controlled substances, and
inhaled glues, toxins, and vapors. With that in mind, Colorado has two laws
pertaining to the use of drugs and driving:

  1. Driving while under the influence of drugs (or alcohol) (DUI).

    As found in Colorado Revised Statutes and explained in a

    Law Summary

    published by the State of Colorado Office of Legal Services, driving under the influence of drugs refers to operating a motor vehicle after or while taking a drug that affects a person’s ability to operate a vehicle to the degree that they are “substantially” impaired and their physical abilities, mental abilities, or both are affected to the degree that they cannot exercise “clear judgment.”

  1. Driving while impaired by drugs (or alcohol) (DWAI).

    Driving while impaired, or driving while ability
    impaired, is similar to a DUI except that rather than having to prove that
    the person was “substantially incapable” of safe driving, a conviction can
    be obtained if the prosecution can prove that the person was affected to


    degree, even the slightest,
    therefore affecting their ability to drive as safely as they would have
    been able had they not consumed/used/taken the drug.

Are the Penalties for Refusing to Take a Blood Test?

Normally, when a person is pulled over for
drinking and driving, they will be asked whether they would prefer a blood or
breath test. If drug use is suspected, though, the officer may request a blood

Per the state’s implied consent laws (referred
to as “express consent” in CO), at the time that a person receives their
driver’s license, they are consenting to any blood or breath testing that is
requested in relation to a law enforcement officer having probable cause to
believe that the person is impaired. While you can refuse the test, there are
penalties for doing so.

Refusing to take a blood test, if requested to
do so, can result in an immediate license suspension of one year. The
prosecution can also use this against you when pursuing a conviction.

for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in Colorado

If you are convicted of driving while under
the influence or while impaired by drugs, there may be administrative penalties
and criminal penalties as a result. Consider the following consequences of a
first- and second-DUI/DWAI charge:

  • First DWAI charge –

    Misdemeanor offense resulting
    in between two and 180 days in jail, a fine of between $200 and $500, and
    mandatory public service between 24 and 48 hours. There is no automatic license
    suspension for one’s first DWAI charge.

  • First DUI charge –

    A first DUI charge is also
    a misdemeanor offense, but the penalties are more serious and include up to one
    year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, up to 96 hours of public service, and a
    potential nine-month license suspension.

  • Second DWAI or DUI charge –

    A second offense
    is more serious, resulting in a potential license suspension of up to one year,
    up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,500, and up to 120 hours of
    community service.

The more DWAI/DUI offenses a person commits,
the more serious the penalties are.

Colorado DUI/DWAI Attorneys Can Help

If you have been charged with driving while
under the influence of drugs or while ability impaired due to drugs, you may
have questions about your rights, what happens if the drugs involved were
legal, your defense options, and more. At the law offices of Anderson &
Carnahan Attorneys at Law, our experienced Colorado DUI/DWAI attorneys can
help. Please call us today at (719) 454-8059 or send us a message for a
consultation if you’re facing charges. We have a history of success and work
hard for our clients.