Driving Under the Influence (DUI) & Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) in Colorado
Driving while ability impaired or DWAI is triggered by a blood alcohol content (BAC) between .05% and .08%. While driving while under the Influence or DUI is triggered by a BAC of .08%. Each come with stiffer penalties if you have previously been convicted one.
There are three different degrees of intoxication DUI, DWAI, & DUI over 0.2% each correlate to legal repercussions. 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.
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.
Driving with a Blood Alcohol concentration of 0.2%
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).