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DWAI: is it better than DUI?

Acronyms litter our everyday speech, spilling over from the internet, government, business and pop culture. We use them often right here in our blog about drunk driving offenses in Denver: DUI (driving under the influence), BAC (blood alcohol content), DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and a number of others.

DWAI is one of those acronyms that people are often not as familiar with – until you or a friend or a loved one has been charged with it. DWAI stands for Driving While Ability Impaired. It is a serious charge that the state of Colorado can level at people whose BAC is below the legal threshold for DUI. 

When a person has been charged with DWAI, they often ask if the accusation is better than a DUI charge. The good news: DWAI is a less serious charge than DUI because you don't face a DMV hearing with a DWAI. The bad news is that, if convicted, you still face potentially harsh punishments that can include jail. Penalties for DWAI can include up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, and 24 to 48 hours of public service.

If you have a DUI conviction on your record prior to the DWAI, you face mandatory jail time upon DWAI conviction.

Please note that you can be found guilty in court of DWAI if your BAC is from 0.05 percent to 0.079 percent. You can even be charged with DWAI if your BAC is below 0.05 percent if a police officer believes you are even slightly impaired by alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two.

It might sound hopeless in some ways. After all, it’s possible to be convicted of driving while ability impaired even with a very low blood alcohol concentration. However, an attorney experienced in DWAI defense can help you understand your legal options and then help you pursue the best option among them, fighting to protect your freedom, your driver’s license and your family. 

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