How Does Colorado Law Define DUI and DWAI?

Being charged with drunk driving can be scary, given that Colorado has strict laws against the behavior. Police officers will often indicate whether they are charging you with a DUI or DWAI, and it’s crucial to understand the differences. The consequences of the charges depend on the severity of the offense.

Criminal defense lawyers in Colorado Springs explain that a DUI implies driving under the influence, while DWAI refers to driving while ability impaired. People often use the terms interchangeably, but they are separate offenses under Colorado’s DUI laws.

When Can I Be Charged with a DUI?

You can be charged with a DUI if you’re found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, whether or not you were driving safely. DUI charges encompass a broad range of circumstances surrounding the driver’s impairment. They comprise impairment due to alcohol or controlled substances such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and some prescription drugs.

Police officers in Colorado are highly trained to search drivers for any symptoms of impairment, with their senses of smell, sight, and sound playing a significant role in determining intoxication. At the checkpoint, police officers will record observable or measurable impairments to your mental or physical faculties.

Ensure you contact skilled Colorado Springs DUI lawyers as soon as possible after the interaction with the police officers to protect your rights. They can advise you on what to do or not do to avoid complicating your case further.

DUI and Minor Drivers

The law has strict provisions for drivers under 21. The BAC cap limit for minor drivers is 0.02%, and they’re often arrested for DWAI. The zero-tolerance policy on underage drivers discourages them from drinking and driving, as the behavior can be physically and legally dangerous to the individual.

When Can I Be Charged with a DWAI?

Driving while ability impaired is considered a less serious drunk-driving offense. It implies driving with a BAC of 0.05% to 0.08%, charged as a misdemeanor offense. Many people are unaware that they can be charged with a DWAI even if their BAC level is less than the legal limit of 0.08%.

The bar for arresting someone for a DWAI is relatively low in Colorado. An officer only needs to find that the alcohol, drugs, or combination of both that you consumed affects you even to the slightest degree. They must determine that you’re less able than someone would ordinarily be to exercise clear judgment, due care, or sufficient physical control to operate a car.

All drivers must voluntarily agree to a breath test if stopped by police officers on suspicion of drunk driving. However, if you refuse to take the test, you risk having the license automatically suspended while you await the outcome of your case. Consider retaining experienced DUI attorneys in Colorado Springs for legal direction and counsel.

What are the Penalties for DUI and DWAI in Colorado?

You will be charged with a misdemeanor for a first-time DUI or DWAI in Colorado, but a DUI carries harsher penalties than a DWAI. You risk the following penalties for a first-time DUI:

  • Five days to one year in jail 
  • A fine of between $600 and $1,000
  • Community service for 48-96 hours 
  • Monitored sobriety 
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for up to 9 months 

The charges could be harsher if the offense entails severe bodily injury or the death of another person. You also could be designated as a persistent drunk driver if your BAC is at least 0.15%. 

Subsequent DUI charges carry stiffer penalties as follows:

  • A fine of between $600 and $1,500
  • Ten days to one year in jail for a second-time offense and 60 days to one year for a 3rd offense 
  • Community service of between 40 and 120 hours 
  • Level II substance abuse education and therapy 
  • Mandatory probation for two years 

DWAI Penalties

A first-time DWAI doesn’t carry an automatic license suspension, but you risk the following penalties if convicted:

  • Two to 180 days in jail 
  • A fine of between $200 and $500
  • Community service of 24 to 48 hours 
  • Eight demerits points on your driver’s license

Subsequent DWAI offenses carry stiffer penalties similar to those of a subsequent DUI charge. If you’re facing either of the charges for a fourth time, the charges are a Class 4 felony, and the penalties are:

  • Fines of between $2,000 and $500,000
  • Two to six years in state prison
  • Mandatory parole for three years 

Don’t go to court alone whether you’re a first-time or subsequent offender. Defending yourself against DUI or DWAI charges can be complex and requires a deep understanding of the law and how the system works. Let aggressive criminal defense lawyers in Colorado Springs help you fight the charges to enhance the chances of a favorable outcome. 

A Skilled DUI Lawyer Providing Legal Counsel and Representation for DUI and DWAI

It can be scary and intimidating to face DUI or DWAI charges in Colorado, especially if it’s the first time you brush with the wrong side of the law. Numerous court appearances may be required, and you may not know how to effectively defend yourself against the charges or seek a lighter sentence if convicted. Skilled criminal defense lawyers in Colorado Springs can help you.

The Lux Law Firm is a reputable criminal justice law firm with reputable DUI attorneys in Colorado Springs. We commit ourselves to helping our clients create the most effective defense strategies against criminal charges. Whether you’re a first-time or subsequent DUI offender, our team can help you beat the prosecutor’s claims to protect your rights, freedom, and future. Call us at 719-451-7469 for a FREE case assessment.