DUI Accidents in Colorado: Are They on the Rise?

Apr 3, 2024 | Accidents, Blog, DUI Accidents

With how often drunk and drugged driving collisions are reported in the news, it’s no leap to suggest that they’ve increased in recent years. The Colorado Department of Transportation reports that one out of every three traffic deaths is linked to impaired driving, a significant toll for an avoidable cause.

The real question is, “Are these crashes happening more often than they used to?”

That may not be the case, even though crashes are more prominent in the news. Statistics show that there was a 7% increase in impaired driving as a cause of fatal collisions in 2022 compared to a year earlier. However, in 2023, the number of fatalities dipped by 51, bringing the total to 194 deaths in impaired-driving crashes through November. That number is still far above the death toll just years earlier, though, when there were only 163 impaired-driving crash fatalities in 2019.

To put things in perspective, fatal DUI accidents are happening at a higher level than they were several years ago, but fluctuations from year to year have led to a recent decline from peak numbers in 2022. And, here are two more important facts: in 2022, the authorities made 16,356 DUI arrests. In 2023? There were over 15,000.


Defining Impaired Driving

Normally, speaking about DUI accidents refers to alcohol-impaired driving. However, that’s not the only kind of impaired driving that happens in Colorado.

Since January 1, 2014, recreational marijuana has been legal in the state. Cannabis-related crashes, as well as mixed cannabis-alcohol-related impaired-driving crashes, happen and are a potential cause of the sudden increase in fatal crashes.

For alcohol, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) plays a role in DUI charges. Anyone with a BAC of .08% or higher will receive a DUI for driving under the influence. Importantly, Colorado also has driving while ability impaired (DWAI) laws that can lead to penalties with a BAC of .05%. Additionally, drivers can be arrested with a BAC under these levels if the attending officer notices signs of impairment — including being high on cannabis. Drivers with 5 nanograms of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or more per milliliter of their blood can also be prosecuted for driving under the influence.


Are DUI Crashes on the Rise?

In 2022, Colorado saw 745 traffic, a record for the state. Out of those, 37% of fatal crashes involved impaired driving.

Although some may argue that population growth has something to do with the increase, Colorado Department of Transportation Deputy Chief Engineer Keith Stefanik says that’s not the case. Rather, other factors, such as cannabis use, played a role in the increase in fatal crashes.

In fact, the total number of collisions involving cannabis increased 51% between 2021 and 2022, showing just how important it is to avoid smoking or ingesting cannabis before getting behind the wheel.


Impaired Driving Deaths in Colorado

When someone gets behind the wheel while intoxicated, they put themselves and everyone else at risk. They have slower reaction times and reduced peripheral vision. They have less control over their impulses, too, which can lead to severe collisions.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s latest report, alcohol was involved in the deaths of at least 325 drivers (293 with known BAC results) in 2021. By December 27, 2023, the state had recognized 208 impaired driving fatalities for the year. That’s a somewhat significant drop within a two-year time period—but it doesn’t include the cannabis- and alcohol-laden days leading up to the New Year.


What To Do After a Drunk-Driving Collision

When you’re involved in a crash with another driver, the steps are the same regardless of if the other driver appears impaired. Follow these steps to protect yourself.

    1. Call 911 right away. You’ll want to alert the authorities to the collision to ensure that you, your passengers, and others involved in the crash get the help you need. Check on the other driver or their passengers if possible, so you can give more information to the 911 operator. If you cannot, avoid moving from your current position.
    2. Stay where you are, but move to the side of the road if you’re able to do so. Don’t leave the scene, even if you feel fine. You may have delayed-onset injuries and should always receive medical care.
    3. Take photographs and get witness information if possible.
    4. Call your attorney at Franklin D. Azar & Associates for guidance

As a victim of a serious collision, your priority should be your health. When the ambulance arrives, go to the hospital to have an examination. Doing this helps ensure you don’t have underlying health issues you haven’t noticed and will start a paper trail for your personal injury case.



For nearly forty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Aurora, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Greeley, Lakewood, Littleton, Longmont, Pueblo, and Thornton. If you’ve been injured in a rideshare, bus, car, truck, bicycle, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation.  Please call the car accident attorneys at FDAzar day or night at 800-716-9032, or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.