Penalties for Major Traffic Crimes – Colorado

Major traffic crimes carry serious penalties in Colorado. In addition to these penalties, a conviction for driving under the influence, vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or another major traffic crime can have severe consequences for your insurance, your ability to maintain your driving privileges, and your ability to make a living and support your family. To make sure you are doing everything possible to minimize the consequences of your recent ticket or arrest, you need to speak with a knowledgeable and competent traffic lawyer as soon as possible.

What are Major Traffic Crimes in Colorado?

Major traffic crimes are vehicle-related criminal offenses that carry the potential for heavy fines, long-term imprisonment, revocation of your driver’s license, and other criminal penalties. Clearly, these are crimes that can have lifelong ramifications for those who get convicted. If you have recently been arrested or are facing a court date for any of the following offenses, we encourage you to call us at (303) 384-5280 right away to discuss your case:

  • Driving on a suspended or revoked license
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI)
  • Driving under the influence of drugs (DUID)
  • Driving while ability impaired (DWAI)
  • Driving after revocation prohibited (DARP)
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Reckless driving
  • Vehicular homicide or vehicular assault
  • Careless driving causing bodily injury
  • Careless driving causing death

What are the Penalties for Major Colorado Traffic Crimes?

Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

There are several reasons why your license may be suspended or revoked. From a DUI conviction, to unpaid parking tickets, to missing a court date, or even failing to pay child support, the Colorado courts and legislature use loss of driving privileges as a means of punishment for a wide variety of offenses. If you are pulled over for driving on a suspended or revoked license – known as driving under restraint (DUR) – possible penalties include:

  • Up to one year in jail for a first offense (two years for a second or subsequent offense)
  • Up to a $1,000 fine
  • An revocation extension to the current license suspension or revocation

For a second conviction for driving under suspension or restraint in any five-year period, your license will be revoked for a minimum of three years (C.R.S. Section 42-2-138).


Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious criminal offense in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Transportation reports that more than 27,000 people are arrested for driving under the influence in Colorado annually, and more than 150 people die in drunk-driving related accidents each year.

Even first-time offenders face steep fines, jail time, weeks of community service, months of drug and alcohol classes and years of probation. For repeat offenders in cases involving aggravating factors, a DUI, DUID, or DWAI charge can carry fines of $500,000 and up to six years of incarceration (C.R.S. Section 42-4-1301). Click the links below to read more about the penalties for DUI, DUID, and DWAI:

Driving After Revocation Prohibited

Habitual offenders for all serious traffic crimes – not just alcohol and drug-related offenses – face severe punishment. As a habitual offender in Colorado, you are facing a mandatory jail sentence of 30 days to 18 months, a possible $5,000 fine, and loss of your license (C.R.S. Section 42-2-203).  If your repeat offense involves another major traffic crime, you can face charges for aggravated driving as a habitual offender – which has been changed to a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries a minimum mandatory 60 days in jail; a maximum of 18 months jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident

When you are involved in an accident involving any property damage, you are required by law to stop and exchange information with the other driver or the owner of the property or notify and provide your information to the police (C.R.S. Section 42-4-1603). If you leave the scene of the accident without meeting your legal obligations, you can face misdemeanor or felony charges depending on whether the accident resulted in property damage, injuries, serious injuries, or death (C.R.S. Section 42-4-1601).

In a misdemeanor case, you can face up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. In a felony case, you can face penalties including one to 12 years in prison and fines of up to $750,000. With either type of offense, your license may be revoked as well.

Reckless Driving

Colorado law defines reckless driving as driving “in such a manner as to indicate either a wanton or a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.” This is a highly subjective standard, and there are several potential defenses to reckless driving charges in Colorado. It is important that you hire an attorney to help you assert these defenses, because for a first-time offense you could be facing hundreds of dollars in fines and 90 days in jail.  A conviction for reckless driving also carries 8 points against your driving privileges and if you have any other recent offenses on your record you could face a suspension of your driving privileges. For a second offense, you can face up to a $1,000 fine and six months behind bars (C.R.S. Section 42-4-1401).

Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Assault

If you cause an accident that results in serious injuries or death, you can face criminal charges that will change your life forever should you get convicted. For vehicular homicide – which can be charged as either a Class 3 or Class 4 felony – the standard sentencing ranges are four to 12 years for Class 3, and two to six years for Class 4. This is in addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. But, if the judge finds extraordinary aggravating circumstances, the prison sentences for vehicular homicide can double – to 24 and 12 years, respectively (C.R.S. Section 18-3-106).

Vehicular assault can be charged as either a Class 4 or Class 5 felony (C.R.S. Section 18-3-205). Class 5 felonies carry up to three years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

1st DWAI 2 days – 180 days None 180 days 24 – 48 hours None Up to 2 years
1st DUI 5 days – 1 year None 1 year 48 – 96 hours 9 months Up to 2 years
DUI w/ BAC ≥ 0.200 10 days – 1 year 10 days 1 year 48 – 96 hours 9 months Up to 2 years
2nd DUI or DWAI – outside 5 years 10 days – 1 year 10 days 1 year 48 – 120 hours 1 year / None 2 – 4 years
2nd DUI or DWAI – inside 5 years 10 days – 1 year 10 days 1 year 48 – 120 hours 1 year 2 – 4 years
3rd DUI or DWAI 60 days – 1 year 60 days 2 years 48 – 120 hours 2 years 2 – 4 years
4th or Subsequent DUI or DWAI 90 days jail – 6 years prison 90 days S/T

120 days W/R

6 years prison Discretion of court 2 years Up to 12 years
1st UDD None None None Up to 24 hours 3 months None
2nd UDD 10 days – 90 days None 90 days Discretion of court 6 months Up to 90 days
3rd or Subsequent UDD 10 days – 90 days None 90 days Discretion of court 1 year Up to 90 days
1st MIP None None None Discretion of court None None
2nd MIP None None None Up to 24 hours 6 months None
3rd or Subsequent MIP None None None Up to 36 hours 1 year None
1st DUR – Alcohol Restraint 30 days – 1 year 30 days 1 year Discretion of court 1 year None
2nd or Subsequent

DUR – Alcohol Restraint

90 days – 2 years 90 days 2 years Discretion of court 4 years None
1st DUR – Non-Alcohol based Restraint Up to 6 months None 6 months Discretion of court 1 year None
2nd DUR within 5 years of the 1st offense – Non-Alcohol based Restraint Up to 6 months None 6 months Discretion of court 3 years None
Driving After Revocation Prohibited (DARP) 6 months – 18 months 30 days 18 months Up to 300 hours 1 year None
Aggravated Driving After Revocation Prohibited (AGG DARP) 6 months – 18 months 60 days 18 months 1 year 18 months
*Note that the period of license revocation is based on all prior offenses appearing on the Colorado driving history

** Colorado residents may qualify for early reinstatement of their driving privileges and should contact the Colorado DMV to check on their eligibility and their reinstatement requirements.

Contact Colorado’s Best Traffic Lawyers About Your Case Today

If you are facing charges for a serious traffic offense in Colorado, you need experienced legal representation. Our criminal defense lawyers have decades of experience, and attorney Jay Tiftickjian has been named Colorado’s Best DUI Lawyer every year since 2012 by Law Week Colorado. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys about your pending charges, please contact us today.