DWAI In Colorado: What It Means To You
There are many acronyms related to impaired driving in Colorado, and it is easy to get confused. Below, we’ve provided answers to common questions about DWAI, which stands for driving while ability impaired. After reading, you can contact us to ask your own questions in a free initial consultation.
What’s the difference between DUI and DWAI?
The biggest difference is related to blood alcohol content, or BAC. DWAI in Colorado is a lesser offense when compared to a DUI. In Colorado, a driver who takes either a blood or a breath test and has between a .05% and .079% BAC is presumed to be DWAI. By contrast, a DUI conviction would require a BAC or .08% or higher.
According to Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1301, driving while ability impaired occurs when a the driver of a motor vehicle has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs (or a combination of both), that affects the person to the slightest degree so that they are less able than they ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically (or both), to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.
What are the penalties of a DWAI conviction?
While DWAI charges usually result in less punishment than DUI charges, both of these crimes can result in similar penalties, including fines, jail time, community service, driver’s license points and/or license suspension.
Repeat offenses have even harsher penalties:
- A DWAI conviction in Colorado will require a mandatory minimum sentence if you have a prior DUI or DWAI in your lifetime anywhere in the United States.
- A second DWAI charge and conviction can result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days in jail and a maximum sentence of up to one year in the county jail.
- A third or subsequent guilty finding on a DWAI in Colorado will result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 days in jail and up to a maximum sentence of one year in the county jail. The mandatory minimum on a third or subsequent offense may not be served via in-home detention (ankle monitor).
The bottom line is simple: any DWAI charge – even a first offense – needs to be taken seriously and defended with the help of an experienced attorney.
Will I have to fight to keep my driver’s license?
Fortunately, a driver who has a BAC of less than .08% will not have to fight their case at the DMV. The DMV only gets involved if the BAC is higher than .08%, which means, barring a bad driving record or previous points on your motor vehicle record (MVR), you should be OK.
That being said, please make sure you do your due diligence. Too often our DWAI defense lawyers have heard someone say, “I am fine; I have no other points on my record.” To be sure, they’ve pulled the client’s MVR, and, sure enough, there have been several points on their record from something like that speeding ticket last year, which our client had forgotten about.
So, if the DMV doesn’t care that I got a DWAI, do I still have to fight my case in court?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. You might not have to fight it at the DMV, but you still have to fight it in criminal court. A first offense does not have a mandatory minimum sentence, but you could potentially still face between two days and six months in the county jail.
As mentioned above, if you have repeat offenses or other aggravating factors, DWAI penalties can be nearly identical in most ways to a DUI. As such, you need to fight for your freedom and hire attorneys who regularly or exclusively handle these cases.
How do I fight against a DWAI charge?
You start by hiring our attorneys. When we take any drunk driving case, we begin by closely examining the evidence as well as how the evidence was obtained. We may be able to argue that:
- The traffic stop was illegal because the officer had no reason to pull you over.
- The field sobriety tests were administered or interpreted incorrectly.
- The breath-testing device was in need of service and calibration and therefore yielded an inaccurate result.
- The officer deviated from protocol in administering the test, leading to unreliable results.
- Your rights were violated in some other way.
The specific approach we take will depend on the details of the case. Suffice it to say, however, you likely have more options than you realize.
So, it looks like DWAI cases in Colorado are just as harsh as DUI cases. Do I have a hope and a prayer?
Despite the mandatory sentences imposed under Colorado DUI and DWAI laws, there is still hope. Through our experience in handling alcohol-related driving cases for over a combined 20 years, we have found that not every district attorney and judge in Colorado handles DWAI cases equally. Some courts are willing to use discretion and give you a break, whereas other courts may not be willing to be as flexible.
Hiring attorneys who know this important information is one of the best investments you can make. So, don’t take chances, and don’t look back on today as the day you made one bad decision turn into two bad decisions.
Contact Shazam Kianpour & Associates, P.C., Today To Get Help
Call us, lawyer up and fight your DWAI intelligently and aggressively with attorneys who know exactly how to handle your particular prosecutor and courthouse. We are available to you for free consultations on your DWAI case, and we will be happy to walk you through the steps, protect your rights and fight for you every step of the way. Call us at 303-578-4036 and schedule your free consultation today.