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The Difference Between DWAI, DUI and DUI over .2

In the State of Colorado, there are three different degrees of intoxication that have to correlate legal repercussions in the criminal case.

You may have seen billboards, commercials or magazine ads that read something like, “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.” Those ads are referring to these different levels of driving under the influence.

Of course, driving while impaired is never recommended and these laws exist for a reason. If you have been pulled over for driving under the influence, it’s important to know the difference between the three levels as it may greatly affect the outcome of your hearing.

DWAI: Driving While Ability Impaired

Driving while ability impaired, or DWAI is triggered by a blood alcohol content (BAC) between .05% and .08%. It is defined as driving when your ability to do so is impaired to the slightest degree.

In the case that you are given a DWAI and depending on how many offenses you have had in the past, you may face jail time, fines and penalties as well as license revocation. Most defense attorneys (myself included) believe that the purpose of a DWAI is to make it easier for the DA to get convictions.

Here’s an example of what I mean. I had a client from Nebraska, a state that does not have DWAI. In Nebraska, you can’t have a DUI unless your BAC is .08% or higher.

Knowing that this client claimed he knew exactly how much he could drink before he’d be over .08% BAC. He came to Colorado to visit some friends, drank just enough so he believed he was within the legal limit, and drove home. As he was driving, he was pulled over and given a breath test.

Sure enough, his blood alcohol level was .079%, just under the DUI limit of .08%. Unfortunately for him, unlike Nebraska, Colorado has a DWAI penalty and he was summoned to Court.

DUI: Driving Under the Influence

Driving while Under the Influence is triggered by a BAC of .08%. As you might expect, the penalties become more severe if you have previously been convicted of a DUI or DWAI.

DUI Over .2%

If you are pulled over and found to be driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .2% or more, you will face a mandatory jail sentence even if it is your first offense. The penalties and repercussions are more severe in this case as well.

It’s also important to know that these charges aren’t simply limited to alcohol intake. You are liable for anything you ingest (prescription medication, over-the-counter drugs like cough syrup, recreational drugs) voluntarily that impairs your cognitive function if you are driving or operating machinery (this includes bicycles as well).

If you find yourself faced with a DWAI or DUI, it’s best to have an attorney represent your case. Call our office today at (720) 999-9506 to set up a free consultation.