Can you get a DUI on the slopes?

March 7, 2019

It’s that time of year. It’s cold outside and the slopes are calling. A hot toddy or whiskey sounds great before you head out. You’re not driving, so it’s perfectly safe right? Before you take off for a weekend of snow, skis and sangria, make sure you know the rules about getting a DUI on the slopes.

In the states where snow sports are a large part of winter activities, law enforcement knows that also brings about a party atmosphere for some. This means they are ready and waiting for dangerous drivers.

What about on the slopes?

In several states, there are laws specifically targeted at slop safety. For example, the Colorado Ski Safety Act (CSSA) governs skiers and boarders while on the hill; it sets standards for what risks skiers assume as “inherent dangers” of the sport. So, yes, it’s illegal to use ski lifts, ski slopes, and trails while you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Basically, you can get a ticket for “riding” under the influence. The idea is that, while you’re not driving, you are putting yourself and others at risk if you are impaired. Being impaired can affect your ability to perform. This puts yourself and others in danger of injury or death.

What’s the penalty?

Unlike driving under the influence, skiing or snowboarding won’t get your equipment revoked. It will, however, get you a fine, jail time, or both – depending on the state you’re in at the time.

In Colorado, using a ski slope while under the influence of alcohol is a class 2 petty offense. That level of offense can result in a fine of up to $1,000, if convicted. In Wyoming, it is considered a misdemeanor that can result in up to 20 days in jail, a fine of up to $200, or both. Nevada will get you a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Why is it a big deal?

Take it a step further, and if you injure another skier or snowboarder during a collision you face even steeper fines and penalties – including personal law suits. You’re moving at fast speeds that require you to be highly alert and aware of your surroundings. Impairing your ability to perform with alcohol can be fatal. Hitting the powder while intoxicated has the potential to cause physical harm to yourself and others.

So, while a warm brandy from the flask sounds really good before you jump off the lift, maybe wait until you’re finished skiing. But keep in mind, skiing with a bad hangover is just as dangerous as skiing while drunk. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that high altitudes increase the effects of alcohol. You can be considered “under the influence” sooner and with less alcohol consumption than you’re used to.

Need help? We are here. We can help you find the right attorney, financial provider, insurance, counseling and more. Just visit There are many resources dedicated to helping you stay safe and recover. If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, locate an AA Group here.