Alcohol Awareness and Safety

Durango is a wonderful place for any craft brew enthusiast, cocktail fanatic, or summit beer lover. Home to Ska Brewing and several other breweries and distilleries, there is no shortage of local, craft drinks. Plentiful bars and restaurants downtown can keep you occupied your entire stay!

Make sure you are aware of the effects of high elevation and Colorado’s laws surrounding alcohol before choosing to drink in Durango! The legal limit for driving is 0.05 BAC!

Alcohol’s Increased Effect on the Body at High Elevation

Many people notice that when they consume alcohol at higher elevations they feel the effects faster, and they come on stronger. It is difficult to find peer-reviewed studies showing that alcohol has an increased effect on the body at higher elevations. However, it is theorized that other factors in people who are not yet acclimatized may contribute to feeling like the effects of alcohol are stronger at elevation. Alcohol can increase the effects of dehydration, which is more common for people still acclimating to elevation. Effects of elevation sickness often mimic that of alcohol intoxication. Additionally, alcohol makes you dehydrated, which is not great while acclimating. 

Colorado’s 0.05% DWAI Law and Other Laws

If you are going to drink alcohol in Colorado you should be aware of the driving laws including the express consent law, DWAI’s, and DUI’s. The legal age of alcohol consumption in Colorado is 21. These laws apply to adults 21 years and older. 

The Express Consent Law states that by choosing to drive a vehicle you give consent to chemical tests such as blood, breath, or urine if you are pulled over. Anyone who does not cooperate with testing when pulled over will have their license revoked for 1 year.

A DWAI, or driving with ability impairment, is applicable to people with a blood alcohol content(BAC) between 0.05 - 0.08. A DWAI is also applicable to people who are deemed to have their ability impaired due to drugs other than alcohol.

A DUI, or driving under the influence, is applicable to people with a BAC over 0.08. Anyone with a BAC over 0.15 will be charged as a persistent drunk driver, even if it is their first offense. 

In Colorado, people under the age of 21 can have their driving license revoked if they are found to have a BAC of 0.02 or greater while driving, known as the zero-tolerance law.

People under 21 can also lose their license if they are found to be in possession or buying alcohol, even if they are not driving or in their vehicle. This is known as the buy and possess law.

If You’re Going to Booze, Be Sure to Drink Plenty of Water and Eat 

Drinking water or other hydrating beverages between alcoholic drinks is a great way to stay hydrated and helps to pace your drinking. Eating food while you are drinking is also important. Many restaurants in Durango provide food pairings and bar snacks. If you are unsure, ask your waiter what goes best with the food you are ordering.


Durango is a great place for enjoying your favorite brew! Just remember that drinks may feel stronger if you are coming from a lower elevation, make sure to drink plenty of water, and don’t forget to eat!. Keep in mind that the legal driving limit is a BAC of 0.05, which may be as little as one drink for some people. Don’t forget to download the Uber app and look up the local taxi services before you hit the town.