What Is the Difference Between DUI and a DWAI?

DUI or "driving under the influence," is defined in Colorado Revised Statutes 42-4-1301, as driving a motor vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, which affects the person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.

DWAI or "driving while ability impaired" in Colorado means driving a motor vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, which affects the person to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.

A blood alcohol content (BAC) of over .05 percent will put you at risk of a DWAI, and a BAC of .08 percent or over is in the presumptive DUI range. A "DUI per se" simply means that, even if you were driving perfectly well, and passed all the roadside sobriety tests, if you have a BAC over .08 percent, you can be charged with a DUI. This is also known as "excess blood alcohol content."

Even if your BAC is not above the legal limit for a DUI, you may still face some harsh consequences for "driving while ability impaired." While this is a lesser of the two offenses, you will still receive eight points on your driving record, which combined with any other points you may already have may result in the loss of your driver's license. Jail is always a possibility with a Colorado DUI or DWAI.

DUI/DWAI Penalties in Colorado

The penalties for drunk driving in Colorado are becoming harsher. For a first-time DWAI offense, a defendant will face fines up to $500 and spend anywhere from two to 180 days in jail, and up to 48 hours of community service. On top of that eight points will be added to the driver's license being suspended.

For a second DWAI offense, the penalties are even stiffer. This time, you face fines up to $1,000. You'll spend anywhere from 45 days to one year in jail, while serving up to 96 hours of community service. Finally, your license will be suspended for a full year.

For your first DUI, you could pay fines up to $1,000. Plus, your jail time will range from five days to one year with up to 96 hours of community service. Your license will also be suspended for a full year.

If this is your second DUI arrest, your fines could go up to $1,500. You'll spend a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of one year in jail. The community service requirements go up to 120 hours, and you'll receive 12 points and get your license suspended.

Many variables will affect your likelihood of conviction and possible sentence. That's why it's important to find a Colorado DUI lawyer who will analyze your case from the police stop through sentencing and construct the best defense possible. Contact the Colorado DUI lawyers at the O'Malley Law Office, P.C., where we practice criminal defense full time. Schedule a free initial consultation to see what we can do for you.

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