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Written by: Austin Lux
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The world might seem like it was coming down on you after police locked you up for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with ability impaired (DWAI) in Colorado.

Why wouldn’t you feel that way? You’ve been arrested, the police took your driver’s license, and now you have to go to court to face criminal charges. The fear of the unknown can be overwhelming. You are justified to wonder what you should do next. 

Talking to a Colorado Springs DUI defense lawyer is the best move you can make immediately after your arrest. Colorado Springs DUI attorney Austin M. Lux should know.

He was a decorated prosecutor and now he uses all of his extensive experience to help people just like you. Austin will review your case thoroughly and work closely with you to develop a defense strategy to achieve the best outcome possible for your DWAI Colorado first offense or Colorado DUI first offense. 

What Are the Colorado DUI Laws for a First Offense?

DUI and DWAI for a first offense in Colorado carry the same penalties, for the most part, even though the charges are slightly different.

Colorado created its DWAI laws and DUI laws in the same statute. In its entirety, that statute criminalizes driving under the influence, driving with ability impairment, and driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater. Driving with a BAC of 0.08 or greater is called DUI per se. DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI without an accident or as a first offense is a misdemeanor. 

So, What Does DUI, DWAI, and Driving at 0.08 BAC Mean? 

DUI means that a person is operating a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol, consuming drugs, or a combination of both. For this act to be a crime, the driver’s ability to drive must be substantially impaired. This means that you do not have the physical or mental ability to exercise clear judgment, use due care, or maintain physical control of the vehicle. 

DWAI means essentially the same thing as DUI, except that the police can charge you so long as they have any evidence that alcohol, drugs, or both affected you to the slightest degree while driving. 

DUI per se means that a person gave a chemical test for alcohol and the person’s BAC is 0.08% or higher. The police do not need any evidence that the person was actually impaired—the chemical test result is sufficient. A chemical test may consist of a blood or breath test. 

The law places a time limitation on the validity of a chemical test. A person could be found to be guilty of DUI per se only if the person took the chemical test within two hours after driving. Otherwise, the test results are irrelevant for that charge.  Nonetheless, the prosecution could pursue charges alleging DUI or DWAI against you.

DWAI Colorado First Offense Punishments

A DWAI Colorado first offense carries less severe consequences than DUI per se or DUI Colorado first offense. The potential jail time for a DWAI first offense in Colorado is two to 180 days.

However, the judge can suspend the two-day minimum sentence as long as the offender attends a substance abuse evaluation and completes the recommended treatment. Successfully completing the probationary period means you will not spend any time in jail.

Notwithstanding, the minimum jail sentence is ten days if the chemical test result was 0.20 or greater.

Fines for a DWAI Colorado first offense range from $200 to $500. The court will add costs as well. The court may also sentence you to 24 to 48 hours of community service and assess a $120 fee. Fortunately, the court will not impose any additional license loss.

DUI Colorado First Offense Penalties 

DUI and DUI per se charges are more severe than DWAI. Under Colorado DUI laws, a first offense carries a minimum five-day jail term of up to one year. The judge can suspend the five-day jail sentence if you attend a substance abuse evaluation. You need to successfully complete any recommended treatment. As with DWAI, a chemical test that results in a 0.20 BAC or above triggers a 10-day minimum jail term.

Other penalties for a Colorado DUI first offense conviction include:

  • Fines ranging from $600 to $1,000;
  • Court costs and surcharges;
  • 48 to 96 hours of community service along with a $120 fee; and
  • License revocation for nine months if you did not lose your license administratively—however, the court must revoke your license for one year if the conviction results from ingesting a controlled substance.

These are the criminal penalties you face. You could face other consequences as well. Those include job loss, losing your right to carry a firearm, and paying increased auto insurance rates.

Administrative Penalties for DWAI Colorado First Offense

Colorado, like every other state, enacted an implied consent law. The implied consent law means that everyone operating on a public roadway consents to take a chemical test. However, the police must believe the driver is impaired. Refusing a chemical test requires the motor vehicle department to automatically revoke your license. Additionally, they will revoke your license if your chemical test result is 0.08 or above. 

The license suspension for a first-time offender whose BAC is 0.08 or above is nine months. You could apply for a restricted license after serving one month of the revocation. Also, you must take alcohol education classes and consent to use an ignition interlock device.

If you refuse the chemical test, you must serve two months of the license revocation and agree to use an ignition interlock device to get a restricted license. Also, you must take an alcohol education class.

Contact Colorado Springs DUI Defense Attorney Right Away for Help with Your DWAI Colorado First Offense

Sitting down with Colorado Springs DUI defense lawyer Austin Lux to discuss your options right away. Acting quickly can help alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty associated with a DUI charge. With Austin Lux, an award-winning defense lawyer on your side, you will be in the best position possible to minimize the impact a DWAI Colorado first offense could have on your life.

Contact Austin today at 719-627-3187 for a free, no-obligation consultation. 

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