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What is the difference between DWAI and DUI in Colorado?

Two terms that can come up in connection to allegations of drunk driving here in Colorado are DUI and DWAI. It is important to note that these terms are not interchangeable. Rather they describe two separate types of offenses under Colorado DUI law.

DWAI stands for driving while ability impaired. Under state law, driving while alcohol or a drug is affecting, in the slightest degree, one’s ability to drive safely is DWAI. State law specifies that a driver testing with a BAC of at least 0.05 but below 0.08 creates a “permissible inference” of DWAI.

DUI, on the other hand, stands for driving under the influence. Under state law, this is the offense of driving while one has been rendered substantially incapable of safe driving by alcohol or a drug. According to state law, a driver testing with a BAC at or over 0.08 creates a “permissible inference” of DUI and can expose a driver to charges of per se DUI.

DWAI and DUI also carry different penalties. Take, for example, the penalties for a first offense. The standard penalties for a first offense of DWAI include:

  • A fine of $200 to $500
  • Jail time of two to 180 days
  • Community service of 24 to 48 hours

DUI carries heavier penalties, with the standard penalties for a first DUI offense including:

  • A fine of $600 to $1,000
  • Jail time of five days to one year
  • Community service of 48 to 96 hours

So, when individuals are accused of drunk driving in Colorado, whether they are charged with DUI or DWAI is very impactful. It affects things such as what prosecutors would need to prove in the case and what consequences a person would be subject to if convicted.

If you have been arrested, you should speak to a Colorado Springs DUI lawyer immediately for a free consultation.

Author Bio

alexis austin

Alexis Austin is the CEO and Managing Partner of Right Law Group, a criminal defense law firm she founded in 2018, with convenient locations in Colorado Springs, Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch. With almost a decade of experience in criminal defense, she has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, misdemeanors, felonies, domestic violence, and other criminal charges.

Alexis received her Juris Doctor from the University of Denver — Sturm College of Law and is a member of the Colorado Bar Association. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named among the “Top 40 Under 40” in 2018 by The National Trial Lawyers and featured in Authority Magazine’s “Top Lawyers” series.

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