What’s the difference between a DUI, DUI-D and a DWAI?

The most common charge is a DUI

There are two main drunk driving charges for DUI in Colorado, an they cover both alcohol and drugs: DUI and DUI per se. The first has a lesser included offense of DWAI, which means you aren’t charged with DWAI, but if a judge or jury finds you not guilty of DUI, then that fact-finder can decide if you are guilty of DWAI.

DUI, DWAI, and DUI per se are all legal shorthand for various alcohol and/or drugged driving offenses, as proscribed by C.R.S. section 42-4-1301.

“DUI” is an abbreviation for “driving under the influence of alcohol.” To be guilty of DUI, the driver must have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher (per se) or be found to be “substantially incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely” (common-law DUI).  A first time DUI offender can face nine months of driver’s license revocation, a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail, as well as community service and mandatory alcohol education classes. A second time offender faces one year of driver’s license revocation, a $1,500 fine, at least 10 days of mandatory jail time, and up to a year in jail plus a minimum mandatory two year probation sentence where another year of jail is suspended and can be imposed if you fail to comply with the terms and conditions of probation. Community service and alcohol education classes also apply.

In addition, you may be classified as a “persistent drunk driver” and exposed to increased penalties if a blood or breath test shows a BAC level of 0.15 or greater, or if you refuse to take a breath or blood test when arrested for DUI.

So what is a DUI-D then?

“DUID” is an abbreviation for “driving under the influence of drugs.” It is the exact same charge as DUI. You are considered to be under the influence of drugs if, because of the drugs, or because of the combination of drugs and alcohol, you are found to be “substantially incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely.”   It makes no difference whether the drugs causing or contributing to this effect are illegal drugs, or lawfully obtained prescription drugs. The penalties are essentially the same as for DUI. Note that there is no “DUI-D per se,” which means there is no separate charge for being 5 nanograms or more over the Colorado THC limit.

And a DWAI?

“DWAI” is an abbreviation for “driving while ability impaired.” It is less serious than a DUI or DUID and can be established with less proof. To be guilty of a DWAI, it must be shown that you drove a vehicle after you have consumed drugs and/or alcohol which affect your mental or physical abilities to drive safely to “the slightest degree.”  In the situation where only drugs are involved, this is sometimes referred to as a DWAID (driving while ability impaired by drugs).  A driver can be charged with DWAI even if his or her BAC is less than .08 percent.  If your BAC is less than .08 but over .05, the law tells the jury that they may infer that your abilities were impaired. However, you are allowed to present evidence to rebut this inference. Even if your BAC is under .05, you can still be charged with DWAI if you show signs of impairment. A first time DWAI offender can face a $500 fine and up to 180 days in jail. A second time offender faces one year of driver’s license revocation, a $1,500 fine and up to a year in jail plus a minimum mandatory two year probation sentence where another year of jail is suspended and can be imposed if you fail to comply with the terms and conditions of probation. In either case, you can also be required to perform community service and complete alcohol abuse classes.

You don’t need to face this challenge alone, get help. Call us.

Regardless of what you were originally charged with, any conviction for DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, or any drugged driving offense is a permanent criminal conviction. If you have a prior offense on your record, the sentencing ranges are the same irrespective if you are convicted of DUI or DWAI. Contact us for a consultation.