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What is the Difference Between a DWI, DUI, DUID, and DWAI in Colorado

What is the Difference Between a DWI, DUI, DUID, and DWAI in Colorado?

Do you know the difference between a DUI/ DUID, and DWAI in Colorado? While they are all offenses of driving under the influence, they are all slightly different.

What is a DUI vs. DUID?

DUI stands for “driving under the influence” and typically occurs when an individual is operating a vehicle with alcohol in their system. DUID stands for “driving under influence of drugs.” Both of these convictions carry the same charges and Colorado law does not distinguish between drugs or alcohol when charging for either of these convictions.

If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over 0.08 you may be charged with DUI. Even if you do not submit to a blood or breath test, you may be charged with a DUI or DUID in Colorado, under the theory that your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle was impaired to the slightest degree by alcohol or drugs.

You may also be charged with an aggravated DUI or DUID offense if you refuse to submit to a BAC test, if you have a BAC test with a result that is higher than 0.15, or if you have caused injury to someone else as a result of driving while impaired.

It is enough for a law enforcement officer to pull you over for reckless or impaired driving and to have reasonable suspicion that you have been drinking alcohol or are under the influence of drugs to charge you with a DUI or DUID.

What is a DWAI?

DWAI stands for “driving while ability impaired” and occurs when a substance has affected you no matter how minimally. A DWAI is a less serious offense than a DUI/DUID. If blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over 0.05% and under 0.08% you may be charged with DWAI. Being that a DWAI is a less serious offense, the penalties are not as severe as those of a DUI/DUID.

What are the penalties for a DUI/DUID misdemeanor?

If you’re arrested and charged with DUI/DUID in Colorado, it can lead to heavy fines or even jail time, as well as license revocation and other penalties.

It may seem harsh for a first-time offender, but a DUI/DUID conviction can have consequences beyond the days spent in jail. A permanent criminal record will show on background checks performed by future employers, landlords, banks, law enforcement, motor vehicle departments, and so on.

So, it’s no exaggeration to say that your future is at stake if you face a DUI/DUID charge and you need to present a strong defense to avoid harsh consequences.

Specifically, the penalties for a first-time misdemeanor DUI/DUID include:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Driver’s license revoked for one year
  • A fine of up to $1000
  • Community service hours
  • Sobriety monitoring
  • Substance abuse education and/or therapy

For a first offense, more leeway is generally granted by the justice system. The sentence can be deferred or suspended. On a first offense, there is an ability with a deferred sentence to make an application to the court, upon successful completion of any probationary period, to have the case dismissed, as long as the case was not an aggravated charge of DUI/DUID or was reduced to a non-aggravated DUI/DUID as part of a plea agreement.

For a second-time misdemeanor DUI or DUID, penalties include:

  • Mandatory 10 days in jail with a maximum of one year
  • A fine of up to $1,500
  • Mandatory probation for two years
  • Community service hours
  • Driver’s license revoked
  • Level II substance abuse education and therapy

As part of plea negotiations, sometimes these sentences can also be suspended in part so that you can avoid jail time or the larger fine if you comply with the terms of probation. For second offenses and higher, the State must prove that the prior offenses were committed by the same person and that there was a previous conviction(s). However, the probation period for second and third offenses may be longer than for a first offense.

The probation terms are similar to a first offense but usually require much more intensive substance abuse treatment and probation supervision. Other more serious classifications of DUI/DUID or DWAI in Colorado may lead to even harsher penalties.

Felony DUI/DWI

Any third or subsequent DUI/DUID will lead to a felony DUI/DUID conviction. This requires mandatory jail time and requires compliance with some of the strictest felony probation requirements:

  • A fine between $2,000-$500,000
  • 2-6 years prison time
  • 3 years of parole

What Are the Penalties for a DWAI Misdemeanor?

Although a DWAI is a less serious offense than a DUI or DUID in Colorado, a DWAI still comes with penalties that can be very serious.

Specifically, the penalties for a first-time misdemeanor DWAI include:

  • Jail time of up to 180 days
  • $500 fine

Penalties for a second DWAI offense are similar to the penalties of a second DUI/DUID offense.

The penalties for a second-time misdemeanor DWAI include:

  • $1500 fine
  • License revocation
  • 2 years probation
  • Community service hours
  • Monitored sobriety
  • Substance abuse education and/or therapy

Do you need help with a DUI/DUID or DWAI?

For many people charged with a DUI/DUID or DWAI in Colorado, it is their first (and only) brush with the law. It can be an intimidating experience. There may be numerous court appearances required and the defense of these cases is complex. You’ve seen the penalties and they are no laughing matter. With the potential consequences affecting your life for years ahead, it is important to present the best possible defense for any DUI/DUID or DWAI charge.

At Colorado Defense Group, our experienced DUI/DUID and DWAI lawyers will help you navigate the complexities of the legal processes for both the criminal case as well as any driver’s license hearings and/or possible consequences of revocation. Call us at (720) 594-7367 or get started with a free case evaluation.