The language of law is one of nuance. Readers likely know the common standard under law for supporting a charge of driving under the influence is testing indicating the suspect’s blood alcohol level is .08 percent or more. For drugs, the standards are less clear, but authorities still have legal leeway to bring impaired driving charges. To understand the implications of the difference in mounting a defense, it’s important to speak with an experienced attorney.
The tools that Colorado police and prosecutors have at their disposal include the statute outlawing DUI and another provision that allows them to bring a charge of driving while ability impaired, or DWAI. The letter of the two laws doesn’t appear that different, but in terms of potential outcomes for charged individuals, the differences can be significant.
DWAI pros and cons
Under the DUI statute, a person can be charged if he or she is “substantially incapable,” physically or mentally, of operating the vehicle with sufficient safety and care after consuming alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two. The charge of DWAI can be leveled if consumption reduces a person’s normal judgment ability to the rather objective standard of “the slightest degree.”
Penalties for a conviction or guilty plea for DWAI are typically less than for DUI. However, it’s important to keep in mind that a DWAI can still result in fines, jail time or a requirement to perform community service. License suspension and an uptick in points on your driving record are also possible.
Nor is it possible to guarantee the outcome of a case. That’s why anyone facing charges should take them seriously and make it a point to contact experienced legal counsel to be sure of their options.