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DWAI – “Driving While Ability Impaired” – The Law in Colorado

Posted on May 27, 2023 in

In Colorado, it is illegal to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle if you are drinking. If the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, then the driver is driving under the influence (DUI), a serious charge. To further discourage all drinking and driving, Colorado law says that a blood alcohol content of above 0.05% but below 0.08% is considered driving while ability impaired (DWAI).

Comparison of Penalties of First Offense DWAI and DUI Convictions

DWAI offenses are designed to eliminate even the slightest amount of impairment before getting behind the wheel of a car. While not the degree of severity as a DUI charge, a DWAI conviction carries fairly harsh punishments.

DWAI is a misdemeanor with hefty penalties. The first-time DWAI offender faces between 2 and 180 days in jail, fines of $200 to $500, eight DMV points, and 24 to 48 hours of community service. It differs from a DUI in that a DUI charge could lead to a suspended driver’s license.

DWAI in Colorado Defined

Colorado wants to put an end to alcohol and drug-related accidents. So, in the state, it is illegal to drive when even slightly impaired. Colorado law does not permit a person who is even a little less mentally and physically.

How DWAI Differs From DUI

In Colorado, both are serious crimes. Those with a BAC of 0.08% or higher are charged with a DUI. If the driver’s BAC is less than 0.08 but above 0.05%, they will face DWAI charges. If you find yourself charged with either impairment-related charge, contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney to advise you of your rights and ensure they are protected.

Even though there is a BAC range from 0.05 to 0.08% in which a driver could be charged with a DWAI, the driver must demonstrate impairment. Without evidence of impairment, while driving, there is no charge.

Though you have the right to refuse to take a chemical test, the penalties may be stiffer if you do so. You might face jail time, and your driver’s license will be automatically suspended. There are also fines that you would face.

A refusal will be used as evidence against you in a DWAI case. Consider the drawbacks of refusing a chemical test before you determine to go that route.

Penalties for DWAI Convictions

The penalties for DWAI convictions vary depending on how many times the victims have been convicted of the crime.

First Offense Penalties

  • Jail sentence of 2 to 180 days
  • Fines of $200 to $500
  • Community service requirements of between 24 and 48 hours
  • 8 DMV points on your driving record

Second Offense DWAI Punishments

  • Mandatory sentence of a minimum of ten days in jail, but up to one year
  • Hefty fines of between $600 and $1,500
  • Community service requirement of 48 to 120 hours
  • Driving privileges revoked for 1 year
  • 8 DMV points

Third Offense DWAI Penalties

  • Mandatory sentence of 60 days, but could care a penalty of up to one year
  • Fines of $600 to $1500
  • Community service requirements of 28 to 120 hours
  • Driver’s license will be revoked for 2 years
  • 8 DMV points

Felony DWAI Punishment

A Colorado class 4 felony is a violation is a charge that comes after three or more convictions for one of the following:

  • DUI
  • DWAI
  • Vehicular assault
  • Homicide using a vehicle

Seek Legal Counsel to Fight the Charges Against You

If you have been charged with a DWAI in the state of Colorado, it is in your best interest to contact a DWAI lawyer today to help you fight the charges you face. At Flesch and Beck Law, our DUI and DWAI attorneys are ready to review your case and help mount a defense that protects your rights and freedoms. Reach out today for a free consultation.