Colorado state law prohibits any person from driving a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol or while impaired due to alcohol or drug usage. It may seem straightforward when you are pulled over for driving under the influence, but this isn’t always the case.

The circumstances will determine whether you’ll be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI). Both have different penalties and defenses too. While they may be different, both can affect your life significantly. You will need to take the appropriate steps with the help of a qualified El Paso County DUI defense attorney to get a favorable outcome.

A DUI and DWAI can be confusing. We explain the differences between the two to help you navigate the confusing legal system.

What’s The Definition of DUI Vs. DWAI?

Someone may quickly mistake DUI as the same as DWAI. DUI means “driving under the influence,” while DWAI means “driving while ability impaired.” While driving under the influence and driving while impaired sound like similar concepts, the truth is that they are not.

Which Is More Serious Between A DUI and A DWAI?

DUI is more serious than a DWAI charge in El Paso County, Colorado. Not many states have the range imposed in a DWAI. Therefore, Colorado Springs drivers are likely to face a scenario where a charge involves the DMV and their driving status, and a different scenario involving DUI fines in court.

What Are Colorado’s Blood Alcohol Limits for DUI and DWAI?

A blood alcohol content (BAC) of over .08% and above is in the presumptive DUI range. Even if you were driving carefully and perfectly, you’d still be charged with a DUI if a roadside sobriety test gives .08% and above readings. Because of the seriousness of this charge, it’s advisable to seek the help and legal guidance of a skilled Colorado Springs DUI attorney.

A Colorado driver is assumed to be driving while ability impaired if the BAC test shows .051% to .079%. Legally, you will be slightly less able to operate a motor vehicle than the person who will operate the same motor vehicle with a clear judgment with no impairment.

DWAI doesn’t also limit to just alcohol but also illegal drugs like medical marijuana, marijuana, prescription medication, and any other over-the-counter medications. If you find yourself in such a situation facing potential charges, get in touch with a DWAI defense attorney in Colorado Springs immediately.

What Are the Penalties of DUI Vs. DWAI?

The penalties for drunk driving in El Paso County and throughout Colorado are becoming harsher by the day. A conviction may lead to license suspension and points added to your license. If you are a first-time offender of either DUI or DWAI, you will face misdemeanor penalties.

DUI Penalties for A First-Time Offender

  • Fines of $600 up to $1,000
  • 5 days to one year in jail
  • 48 to 96 hours of community service
  • Mandatory jail term for BAC above .20

DWAI Penalties for A First Time Offender

  • Fines of $200 up to $500
  • 2-180 days in jail
  • 24 to 48 hours of community service

DUI and DWAI Penalties for A Second Offense

  • Mandatory minimum of 10 days and up to one year in jail
  • Fines of $600 up to $1,500
  • 48 to 120 hours of community service
  • Probation of at least two years

DUI and DWAI Penalties for a Third Offense

  • Mandatory minimum of 60 days and up to one year in jail
  • Fines of $600 up to $1,500
  • 48 to 120 hours of community service
  • Probation of at least two years

DUI and DWAI Penalties for A Fourth or Subsequent (Felony DUI)

  • 2 to 6 years in prison
  • Fines of up to $500,000.00

As you can see from the penalties, DWAI doesn’t necessarily mean you get less significant consequences. A DWAI will still appear on your criminal record. Besides, a DUI and DWAI charge have roughly the same penalties for a second and third offense in Colorado. However, a DWAI carries less severe penalties for your driver license in Colorado than a DUI conviction.

For a fourth DUI or DWAI, you will be charged with a Class 4 felony. If found guilty, penalties include up to six years in the Department of Corrections, fines of up to $500,000, a sentence to Community Corrections, or a lengthy probation with at least 90 days’ jail time.

Therefore, it’s best not to try your luck with the legal system if you suspect you are even slightly impaired in operating your motor vehicle. But if you are already facing DWAI or DUI charges in Colorado Springs, let an experienced Colorado Springs DUI attorney defend you against these charges. DUI and DWAI defense attorneys in El Paso County know the law and how to defend you in court.

How Do I Defend Against DUI Charges in Colorado?

While every case is unique, there are still ways you could defend yourself against DUI or DWAI. For a DUI, some defenses include:

  • The BAC was less than .08%
  • A medical condition that gave a false BAC reading

How Do I Defend Against DWAI Charges in Colorado?

  • The defendant’s BAC was less than .05%
  • The driver wasn’t driving impaired

Other defenses for both DUI and DWAI include:

  • Lack of reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull you over
  • DUI breathalyzer or blood test wasn’t administered per the Colorado laws
  • The arrest was unlawful
  • The defendant had a physical condition that led to failed field sobriety tests

The prosecution has the burden of proof to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you broke the law. If the prosecution fails to prove this, you should not be found guilty of a DWAI or DUI.

A Professional Legal Team Protecting Your Future

It is correct to state that DUI and DWAI in Colorado are pretty serious offenses and can affect your life. The best way to avoid their convictions is to avoid violating the laws addressing them. But if you are currently facing a DUI or DWAI, rely on the experience of a qualified team of criminal defense lawyers.

Our law firm is a seasoned criminal defense law firm handling both DUI and DWAI cases in Colorado. We will guide you on the steps to take following your arrest and protect your rights. Take the smart choice and contact us for skilled and aggressive representation in Colorado Springs. Call us for a FREE 24/7 consultation.