Ignition Interlock Laws in Colorado: A Comprehensive Overview

Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) have become increasingly popular tools in the fight against drunk driving, offering a preventative measure to keep impaired drivers off the road. Colorado has been at the forefront of enacting ignition interlock laws, having initiated their statewide pilot program back in 1995. Since then, the state has amended and expanded its ignition interlock program to ensure increased safety on Colorado’s roads.

The University of Colorado’s Health Sciences Center conducted a study in 2000 examining the effectiveness of the program, which has since evolved. On July 1, 1999, Colorado amended its interlock statute to make an interlock a more prominent component of its DUI (driving under the influence) policies. The state further strengthened these measures by enacting a statute on August 8, 2012, that made interlocks a mandatory part of the DUI sentencing process.

These ignition interlock programs have been largely beneficial in reducing re-arrest rates for alcohol-impaired driving. The constant evolution and adaptation of Colorado’s laws in this area indicate a strong commitment to improving public safety and reducing the number of alcohol-related accidents on its roads.

Overview of Ignition Interlock Laws

Basic Requirements

The Ignition Interlock Laws in Colorado aim to prevent alcohol-impaired driving and increase road safety. In Colorado, ignition interlock devices are mandatory for drivers convicted of DUI and DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) offenses. The state has implemented stricter laws and penalties, especially for repeat offenders.

After a DUI or DWAI conviction, individuals must apply for a restricted driver’s license with an ignition interlock requirement. These restrictions remain in place for a specified period depending upon the number of prior convictions and the severity of the offense. The interlock device must be installed by a state-approved vendor and regularly monitored for any violations.

Interlock Devices

Ignition interlock devices are designed to prevent individuals from starting their vehicle if their breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) exceeds the pre-set limit. The device prompts the driver to blow into the mouthpiece before starting the vehicle, and if the BrAC is above the allowed limit, the vehicle will not start.

In Colorado, interlock devices must meet the state’s stringent technical specifications to ensure accuracy and reliability. These devices must be calibrated and inspected by a certified provider at least once every 60 days. Any attempt to tamper with or bypass the interlock device could result in additional penalties, including an extension of the interlock restriction period.

Frequent compliance checks and the strict implementation of these laws in Colorado have contributed to a reduction in alcohol-related crashes and repeat offenses, indicating the effectiveness of ignition interlock programs source.

Eligibility and Installation Process

DUI Offenders

In Colorado, a first-time DUI offender can expect to have their license suspended. However, they can choose to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle to regain their driving privileges. Repeat DUI offenders are also required to install an IID as part of their penalties.

Eligible drivers who install an IID can have their driving privileges reinstated but will remain subject to strict monitoring and certain restrictions. They will be required to provide a breath sample before starting the vehicle and must pass a breath alcohol test with a result below the pre-set limit, usually 0.02% BAC.


The costs associated with the installation and maintenance of an IID are the responsibility of the offender. On average, the installation fee ranges from $70 to $100. In addition, there are monthly monitoring fees, which typically range from $60 to $80. Occasionally, discounts or subsidies may be available for low-income offenders to offset the costs.

It is essential to choose an approved ignition interlock provider to ensure that the device is properly installed and meets state requirements. Failure to use an approved provider may result in non-compliance with the IID program and further legal consequences.


The duration of the IID requirement depends on the severity of the offense and the driver’s record. For first-time DUI offenders, the IID must be installed for at least 8 months after their license has been reinstated. For repeat offenders, the period may be longer, depending on the circumstances and the number of prior offenses.

During the IID requirement period, drivers must pass regular breath alcohol tests and avoid any alcohol-related driving violations. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in an extension of the IID period and additional penalties.

Monitoring and Maintenance

Routine Inspections

In Colorado, ignition interlock devices are subject to routine inspections to ensure proper functioning and compliance with the program. The individuals who are required to install the device must bring their car to an authorized service provider for periodic maintenance and check-ups. These check-ups are essential in the ignition interlock program, as they help to maintain a focus on the primary goal of keeping the individual and the public safe from alcohol-impaired drivers 3.

During these inspections, the service provider checks the device for any evidence of tampering, misuse, or circumvention attempts. Additionally, they download data from the device, including any violations or failed breath tests, which is then reported to the appropriate monitoring authority.

Device Malfunctions

Ignition interlock devices must be reliable and accurate to ensure the program’s effectiveness. To help maintain the device’s proper functioning and address any malfunctions, Colorado has set guidelines for handling issues with the device. If the monthly monitoring reports identify any anomalies or problems, the person utilizing the device is required to address those issues and may be subject to penalties if they fail to do so 5.

There are different types of ignition interlock devices in the market. For instance, semiconductor-based interlocks require more frequent servicing than fuel cell-based interlocks and may be less specific. To maintain reliability, Colorado mandates the use of certified and approved devices to minimize malfunctions and ensure accurate, alcohol-specific readings 2.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Ignition interlock laws in Colorado are designed to minimize repeat alcohol-related offenses. However, it is important to be aware of the consequences for non-compliance with these laws. The state imposes penalties for tampering with the device and for violating program rules.

Tampering Penalties

Tampering with the ignition interlock device is a serious offense. In Colorado, tampering includes any actions that attempt to bypass, disable, or remove the device without proper authorization. Tampering with the device could lead to the following penalties:

  • Criminal charges: A Class 1 misdemeanor charge with possible imprisonment, fines, or both.
  • Extension of the interlock period: An additional period of interlock use could be imposed by the state, prolonging the driver’s time with the device.
  • Revocation of driving privileges: Tampering with the device could result in the suspension or revocation of the driver’s license.

Violation of Program Rules

Colorado’s ignition interlock program has specific rules that participants must follow. Examples of violations include failing to pass the device’s breath tests or failing to service the device in a timely manner. Consequences of non-compliance with program rules could include:

  • Increased monitoring: More frequent device checks and appointments with the monitoring agency might be required.
  • Additional fines: Non-compliant participants may face financial penalties imposed by the state.
  • Extension of the interlock period: Similar to tampering penalties, non-compliance with program rules could result in an extended interlock period.

In summary, the consequences of not complying with Colorado’s ignition interlock laws can be severe, including financial penalties, extended periods of interlock use, and potential loss of driving privileges. Understanding these consequences and adhering to the program’s rules help to ensure a successful outcome for those participating in the ignition interlock program.

License Reinstatement and Removal

Requirement Fulfillment

In Colorado, ignition interlock laws require qualifying drivers to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle for a specific period before being eligible for license reinstatement. The duration of this requirement varies depending on the severity of the offense and the driver’s history. Once the minimum period of interlock device usage is completed, and other conditions like alcohol education programs are fulfilled, the driver can apply for license reinstatement.

To ensure compliance, Colorado ignition interlock laws stipulate that drivers must provide proof of installation and regular maintenance of the device. They must also maintain a record of no-alcohol-related traffic incidents while the interlock device is installed. Failure to meet these requirements may result in an extension of the mandatory ignition interlock period.

Petitioning for Removal

After fulfilling the ignition interlock requirements, drivers are allowed to petition for the removal of the device. This process involves filing a request with the court and providing evidence that the driver has successfully met all the interlock-related prerequisites. A hearing may be scheduled to review the case and make a decision on whether the device can be removed.

If granted, the court issues an order authorizing the removal of the ignition interlock device. The driver should notify the ignition interlock provider and schedule a device removal appointment. Once the device is removed, the driver’s license restrictions are lifted, and normal driving privileges are reinstated. However, drivers should keep in mind that any subsequent alcohol-related driving offenses could result in more stringent penalties and the reinstatement of an ignition interlock device.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements for obtaining a restricted license?

To obtain a restricted license in Colorado, the individual must meet several criteria. These include completing alcohol education courses, providing proof of financial responsibility, and installing an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. Furthermore, the person must pay the required fees and may be subject to additional restrictions based on their specific situation.

How does a DUI conviction affect ignition interlock requirements?

A DUI conviction in Colorado leads to the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device as part of the driver’s license reinstatement process. The duration of the interlock requirement varies depending on the number of previous DUI convictions and the severity of the offenses.

What is the process for early removal of the interlock device?

In some cases, early removal of the ignition interlock device is possible. The individual must demonstrate compliance with the interlock program requirements, complete the mandated alcohol education courses, and maintain a clean driving record. It is essential to consult with the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles to determine eligibility for early removal.

What are the consequences of interlock violations?

Interlock violations, like attempting to start the vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the allowed limit or tampering with the device, can result in penalties. These may include an extension of the interlock requirement, suspension of the restricted license, or additional fines and fees.

What is the blood alcohol content limit for operating an interlock device?

The BAC limit for operating a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device in Colorado is 0.025%. Any attempt to start the vehicle with a BAC above this limit will be considered a violation.

Are there exemption forms available for unique circumstances?

Exemption forms may be granted in unique situations, such as medical conditions that prevent an individual from providing an adequate breath sample. To apply for an exemption, the individual must submit documentation from a medical professional to the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles for review and approval.

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