The Difference Between DUI and DWAI

In the State of Colorado, if you were arrested for drinking and driving, you can be charged with either driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of those (DUI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) or both. The DWAI charge is unique in the fact that it is only charged in Colorado and New York.

Colorado Blood Alcohol Concentration Legal Limits

If you are caught drinking and driving in Colorado, the penalties under the Colorado Drunk Driving Laws established by the Colorado Legislature can be severe. There are two separate ways that law enforcement can charge someone if they are intoxicated while driving.

  • DUI – The nationwide standard legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent. If you are pulled over by a police officer and have a BAC over 0.08 percent you will be charged with a DUI in Colorado.
  • DWAI – If a police officer pulls over someone for suspicion of driving while under the influence, and that person’s BAC is between 0.05 and 0.08 percent, they can be charged with a DWAI in Colorado.

Charges for DUI vs. DWAI

Colorado penalties are serious for both DUI and DWAI charges. The following are the penalties imposed if convicted for either offense.

  • DUI penalties. first offense conviction for a DUI in Colorado will result in court fines of $300-$1,000, jail time of five days to one year, and a license suspension for a year. A second offense conviction for a DUI in Colorado will result in court fines of $500-$1,500, jail time of 90 days to one year, and a license suspension of one year. If there are subsequent convictions of DUIs after the second offense, the penalties can become even more severe, and it is recommended that you consult an experienced criminal defense attorney.
  • DWAI penalties. A DWAI is still considered a misdemeanor in Colorado with potentially serious consequences. If convicted of a DWAI, a person may not lose their license on the first offense, will have a fine up to $500, receive up to 180 days in jail, may receive up to 48 hours of community service, and face eight points on their Colorado driver’s license. A second conviction of a DWAI is the same as a second DUI, including up to one year in jail, fines up to $1,500 and a driver’s license suspension up to one year. Subsequent convictions of a DWAI face harsher and harsher penalties.

Contact an Experienced DUI and DWAI Lawyer

If you were arrested and charged with either a DUI or DWAI in the State of Colorado, you should contact an experienced DUI and DWAI attorney as soon as possible to help you understand your legal rights, work to prevent a conviction, or attempt to reduce your penalties and sentence.

The sooner you begin working to build a strong defense in your case, the more likely it is that you may have a positive outcome. Depending on the facts of your case, your attorney may be able to get key evidence excluded from the court record, if the evidence was obtained in violation of your rights.

You can discuss your case with The Moorhead Law Group at 303-447-1400 or by contacting us online today.


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