Suspended and Revoked Licenses from Colorado DUIs

The McDermott Stuart & Ward LLP lawyers are an award-winning Colorado criminal defense team with great experience defending DUI charges.  Our attorneys have prepared this blog to help you understand when and how the government can take away your driver’s license following a DUI or DWAI arrest or ticket. 

License Revocation from Colorado DUI and DWAI Charges

If you’ve been pulled over in Colorado and suspected of driving under the influence, one of the first things you’ll be wondering is whether you’ll get to keep your driver’s license. 

The government is allowed to take away your driver’s license following an alcohol-related driving ticket when:

  • You refused to take a blood or breath test. Your blood alcohol content (“BAC “) is at or over 0.08;
  • You’re under 21, and your BAC is over 0.02 but under 0.08;
  • You hold a Commercial Driver’s License (“CDL”), and your BAC is at or over 0.04;
  • You’re already driving on a restricted license when you get pulled over;
  • You’re declared incompetent; or, 
  • You fail to file and maintain proof of financial responsibility.

To be very clear, your Colorado driver’s license can be revoked if any one of the above-referenced circumstances are present. 

Below are deeper explanations of these circumstances when someone’s driver’s license can be revoked following a ticket for an alcohol-related driving accusation in Colorado:

  • You Refused to Take a Blood or Breath Test. Expressed Consent is the name of the “consent” you purportedly gave to have your blood or breath sample taken simply by virtue of the fact that you are driving on the roads and highways of the state.[1] While it may be true that you’ve consented to a test of your blood or breath already, you are still allowed to refuse. But if you do refuse, your driver’s license will be taken away.[2] You will have 7 days after you are notified of your revocation by which to request a hearing on whether or not you truly “refused” a test. If you want any shot at getting back to driving ASAP, you must request that hearing within 7 days of receiving notice of your driver’s license revocation. An experienced lawyer will know how to request this hearing in a streamlined and efficient way. There are several valid reasons why someone could be deemed to have refused but not actually refused. It will be your lawyer’s job to fight against this at the DMV Hearing to get your license back.
  • You Took a Blood or Breath Test, but the Result was At or Over the Legal Limit. If you consented to a test, and your blood or breath alcohol content (“BAC “) result is at or over 0.08, your driver’s license will be revoked.[3] If you chose a breath test, your alcohol content result will be ready immediately afterward; within minutes you’ll know whether your license is being revoked. An experienced lawyer knows the fallacies of the breathalyzer machine and can present them at both the DMV hearing and the criminal court level. Blood test results take much longer to come back – sometimes up to 3 months. Therefore, an officer cannot immediately take away your driver’s license because they don’t know whether the blood test results are at or over the legal limit yet. If the final results come back at or over 0.08, the DMV will be notified, and you will receive notice – usually via mail – that your driver’s license has been revoked.[4]
  • You are Under 21, and Your Blood or Breath Test Results Show an “Excess BAC.” As discussed, your driver’s license will be revoked if your BAC is at or over 0.08. But if you’re under 21, revoking your driver’s license only takes a BAC of more than 0.02 but less than 0.08.
  • You Hold a Commercial Driver’s License (“CDL”) and Have an Excess Blood Alcohol Content (or Refused). If you were driving a commercial motor vehicle at the time of the stop or were simply the holder of a CDL, you only need a BAC at or over 0.04 to get your CDL revoked.[5] If you get pulled over and get both your regular license and your CDL revoked, the law specifies that those revocation periods must run “concurrently” (a.k.a. at the same time).[6]
  • You’re Already Driving On a Restricted License at the Time You’re Pulled Over. If you’re driving on a restricted license when you’re pulled over, and the officer finds that you’ve committed further traffic violations or are impaired, any subsequent DMV consequence may prolong your ability to reinstate your license. The question comes down to whether the length of the new revocation consequence will be stacked on top of the waiting time to reinstate your driver’s license that existed before you got pulled over. Under Colorado law, if you picked up new traffic violations with a revoked or suspended license or while still trying to reinstate your first license, and the revocation first in time happened before Jan. 1, 2014, any new revocation consequences will run “consecutively” (a.k.a. one after the other).[7] If the length of your new revocation consequences (i.e., your latest arrest/ticket) ends before your restrictions from the first suspension/revocation are over, you may apply for a probationary license.[8]

Additional Reasons for Driver’s License Revocation in DUI Cases

Other miscellaneous, rarer reasons for driver’s license revocation may include:

Incompetency. One uncommon reason your license may be revoked is if you’ve been declared mentally incompetent by a court. The declaration of incompetency has to specifically include that the driver is incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle.[9]

No Proof of Financial Responsibility. Another reason why your license may be revoked is if you were required to file and maintain “proof of financial responsibility for the future” and failed to do so. When a cop pulls you over, it’s discovered that you had not filed this or weren’t maintaining it. Most people know this as “SR-22.” [10] Usually, people are required to have this policy when they are in the period of reinstating their driver’s license. Another reason someone may be required to carry this policy is if they’ve been convicted of No Proof of Insurance under § 42-4-1409(1), CRS. If convicted, they must “file and maintain proof of financial responsibility for the future… for a period of three years from the date of conviction.” [11]

As of 1-1-23, most people can start the early reinstatement process the same day their revocation period becomes active. The exceptions are (including but not limited to) if they refused to take a blood or breath test, in which case they must wait 2 months before they can begin the process.

Remember that this list describes consequences to your driver’s license as a result of your conduct, chemical test results, or some other allegation separate from an actual criminal conviction. If convicted of DUI or another alcohol-related driving offense—or even a traffic offense—there will be further consequences to your license (although they may run concurrently or at the same time). Colorado has a process for a license to be reinstated after DUI charges that might apply to your case.

The best way to protect your driver’s license is not to lose it. The driver’s license consequences listed in this post can be successfully defended against with the right, knowledgeable attorney. DMV Hearing Officers and others at “the department” who process license revocations are used to a rarely-resisted machine that grinds out license revocations with little thought behind them. The best thing you can do for yourself is have a smart lawyer willing to shake things up, keep government employees on their feet, and remind the system that it cannot just revoke licenses frivolously. Your ability to drive impacts your job, your family, and your health. Get a lawyer who makes the government think twice before signing off on a revocation.

Colorado DUI Defense Lawyers

The penalties in Colorado for DUI and DWAI from alcohol and marijuana can be affected by many issues, including whether or not it is a first-time offense. The attorneys of McDermott Stuart & Ward LLP have practiced criminal defense law for decades and advocate strongly for clients in DUI and DWAI cases across the state. The firm is Denver-based, but the attorneys practice in most Colorado counties.

Contact the DUI attorneys at McDermott Stuart & Ward LLP and schedule your free consultation today.


[1] § 42-2-1301.1, C.R.S.

[2] § 42-2-126(3)(c), C.R.S.

[3] § 42-2-126(3), C.R.S.

[4] § 42-2-126(3), C.R.S.

[5] § 42-2-126(2)(d), CRS CDL revoked for the time specified in 49 CFR 383.51. If you’re CDL and you’re under 21, you only need a BAC> 0.02 but less than 0.04 to get your CDL revoked. § 42-2-126(2)(e), C.R.S.

[6] § 42-2-126(4)(a)(IV), C.R.S.

[7] § 42-2-126(4)(a)(I)–(III), C.R.S.

[8] § 42-2-126(4)(c), C.R.S. Probationary licenses are subject to § 42-2-127(14), C.R.S.

[9] § 42-2-125(1)(h), C.R.S.

[10] § 42-7-103(14)(b), CRS (“For purposes of this title, the form known as the ‘SR-22’ furnished to the department may be used as proof of financial responsibility in compliance with this article.”).

[11] § 42-4-1410(1), C.R.S.

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