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What does a DWAI mean for you?

Most drivers are familiar with a DUI – driving under the influence. A driving while ability impaired (DWAI) charge is less known and, to most people, it sounds like another way to describe a DUI.

However, this charge does differ from a DUI in many ways, and anyone charged with one should know what makes it unique. What is the difference between a DUI and a DWAI, and how does the charge affect you?

DUI vs. DWAI

A DUI is when someone gets behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two. This consumption alters a person’s ability to exercise judgement, control and care while operating a vehicle.

A DWAI is when someone gets behind the wheel after consuming those same substances, but it affects a person to the slightest degree. The consumption makes the driver less able to operate the vehicle than they ordinarily would – both mentally and physically.

DWAI charges

For anyone in Colorado who is charged with a DWAI, the good news is that a DWAI is a lesser offense than a DUI. A DWAI typically registers a .05 to .079 in a blood or breath test, which means the department of motor vehicles (DMV) doesn’t get involved – they care if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or above.

Unfortunately, a DWAI doesn’t mean your case will always be easy. A first offense for a DWAI could still lead to a sentencing of two days to six months in a county jail, even though the offense comes with no mandatory minimums. Additionally, if you have a prior DUI or DWAI from anywhere – even if it’s not in Colorado – the sentence does come with a mandatory minimum.

Ultimately, a DWAI means a lesser charge for you, but that lesser charge is not without consequences. The charge still requires a strong defense to keep it from affecting your life.

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