There are two different alcohol related offenses that can result from driving after you have consumed alcohol.
Whether you are charged with one or the other depends on the amount of alcohol in your system. The charges are: “Driving While Ability Impaired” – DWAI and “Driving Under the Influence” – DUI.
Under Colorado law DWAI is defined as: “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, that 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.”
Colorado law states that if a driver’s BAC was in excess of 0.05 but less than 0.08, then there is a permissible inference the defendant’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by the consumption of alcohol. If a driver’s BAC was .05 or less then it is presumed they were not under the influence of alcohol and their ability to operate a motor vehicle was not impaired. In addition to using objective tests (i.e. blood or breath) the State can also use subjective evidence (i.e. slurred speech, smell of alcohol, blood shot eyes, etc.) to prove its case.
Colorado law defines DUI 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, that affects the person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, of exercising clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle. If a driver’s BAC is .08 or greater, then they are presumed to be under the influence of alcohol to a degree that they were not capable of safely operating their vehicle. Just as in a DWAI case the state can also use subjective evidence to prove its case.
Driving While Ability Impaired is considered to be a lesser offense than DUI. However, because it is an alcohol offense DWAI cannot be expunged nor the record sealed. In order for an alcohol offense to be reduced to a non-alcohol offense, the district attorney must be able to provide specific reasons to the Court for why the State would be unable to prove their case for DWAI.
The biggest difference between DUI and DWAI is related to your driver’s license. A DUI conviction will result in the DMV suspending your license to drive for a period of one year, but a DWAI conviction will not suspend your license at the DMV at all. However, your license can still be suspended as a criminal penalty through the Court system.
The punishment for a first time DUI in Colorado ranges from 5 days in jail and/or a $600 fine, to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. The punishment for a first time DWAI in Colorado ranges from 2 day in jail and/or a $200 fine, to 180 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
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Criminal Practice Areas
Our Colorado lawyers aggressively defend your rights. Certain situations offer options such as evidence suppression, dismissal of the charges, or greatly reduced penalties, but only an experienced lawyer will be able to understand the circumstances surrounding your case fully. If you have prior charges or a felony on your record, it is especially important to contact a defense attorney promptly to seek advice and understand your case.
Driver’s License Revocations from DUI
A DUI arrest results in two separate legal proceedings against you: the criminal case and an administrative license revocation hearing through the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles. If your BAC is confirmed through chemical testing to be .08 or above, or if you refused to submit to a breath or blood test, you will be subject to a license revocation through a civil administration hearing.
Alcohol Related Driving Offenses
There are two different alcohol related offenses that can result from driving after you have consumed alcohol. Whether you are charged with one or the other depends on the amount of alcohol in your system. The charges are: “Driving While Ability Impaired” – DWAI and “Driving Under the Influence” – DUI.
The Colorado law firm, Thomas Law Firm, defends all types of DUIs, from drug related to alcohol impaired driving offenses. If you have been accused of driving under the influence for felony or misdemeanor charges, contact our DUI criminal defense lawyers at(720) 542-6148.
Injury Property Damage And Car Crash DUI
A car crash is a situation nobody wants to find themselves in, let alone be responsible for. In Denver, the penalties for these accidents include heightened insurance rates, fines, and, if alcohol was involved, legal repercussions including serious and potential felony DUI charges. When a drunk driver is involved in a car crash that leads to property damage or bodily injury, the penalties increase significantly.
DUI/DWAI for Commerical Drivers
Penalties for receiving a DUI are much harsher for commercial drivers and the consequences may reach far beyond losing your license and paying a fine. Commercial drivers are subject to stricter standards because their job requires them to operate vehicles that can contain toxic waste or precious cargo—it is a matter of public safety that these drivers be as safe as possible. Driving drunk while operating a company vehicle puts the company as well as the public-at-large at risk.
Recent changes to Colorado law have made it so it is now legal to possess and use marijuana. However, it is still a crime to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana or any other drug. A conviction for driving under the influence of drugs will lead to the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol.