While most of us understand the severity of driving drunk or while under the influence of drugs, you might not realize that there are different categories of criminal charges related to such offenses. For example, a DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, charge could be amended to a DUID, or Driving Under the Influence of Drugs if an officer assessment concludes that you have been using prescription drugs, marijuana, or illegal drugs.
There is also a lesser offense termed Driving While Ability Impaired, or DWAI. This category is not as severe as DUI or DUID in terms of impairment, and it also infers lesser penalties, but can still result in fines, community service, probation, and/or jail time, so you need to take such charges seriously. When you've been pulled over in Jefferson, Douglas, Arapahoe, or Adams County, do not hesitate to contact our firm.
DWAI stands for “Driving While Ability Impaired." DWAI charges are similar to DUI or DUID charges in one key way: the level of impairment. As you may know, a DUI charge is levied against a driver that has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. In the state of Colorado, a BAC of higher than 0.05, but lower than 0.08 can result in a DWAI charge. DWAI is generally a less severe charge than a DUI; however, DWAI is still a criminal charge in Colorado with potentially serious penalties.
How to Define DWAI in Colorado
DWAI is defined as “driving a motor vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, which affects the person to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.”
The text is very similar to the Colorado Revised Statutes for DUI, with the main difference being “affects the person to the slightest degree”. In the text for DUI, the wording is “affects the person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable.” In other words, if you’re even slightly impaired when you get behind the wheel, you could be charged with a DWAI for use of alcohol or drugs.
It’s an important distinction not only when imbibing alcohol or using recreational marijuana or illicit drugs, but also when using prescription medication (including medical marijuana). Many people are surprised to be charged with DWAI for use of prescribed medications, but if they cause sleepiness, slow reaction times, or other impairment, you could face a DWAI charge for driving while using them.
A first-time DWAI offense could result in:
- Fines of $200-500
- 24-48 hours of community service
- Probation of up to two years
- Jail time from 2-180 days
A second DWAI offense could result in:
- Fines up to $1,500
- Up to 120 hours of community service
- Probation of at least two years
- Up to a year in jail
Habitual offenders will face increasing penalties, with felony offenses charged for four or more offenses. Even if you’re only facing your first DWAI offense, you need to know that conviction can be detrimental and charges can infer cumulative penalties. This is why it’s so important to seek immediate legal counsel to fight DWAI charges. If you've been charged with driving while ability impaired in Colorado, it is time to contact the DWAI criminal law attorneys at Curtis Law Firm in Denver.
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