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Which is punished more severely, driving drunk or driving high?

Even though most Colorado drivers know it is illegal to get behind the wheel if they are under the influence of EITHER alcohol or drugs, many aren't sure if the penalties are the same for each. For instance, does driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) carry a harsher punishment than driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), or vice versa?

Well, the answer is generally no, one offense is not penalized harsher than the other. In fact, the penalties for DUI and DUID are the typically the same, regardless of the substance (alcohol or drugs), or combination of substances involved.

So what are the penalties for DUI and DUID?

Under Colorado law, first-time DUI and DUID offenders may face a wide range of penalties if convicted, including:

  • Jail time of five days to one year, which the court can suspend if the offender submits to an alcohol evaluation and satisfactorily completes an alcohol education program
  • Fine ranging from $600 to $1,000
  • License revocation
  • Community service of 48 to 96 hours
  • Up to two years of probation

However, while the penalties for DUI and DUID are typically the same following a conviction, it is important to mention that the penalties may change depending on the severity of the circumstances. For instance, those with past DUI/DUID convictions, those with significantly higher blood-alcohol-content (BAC) levels and those who refuse chemical testing may face different -- and typically harsher -- penalties.

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