What is the Difference Between DUI, DUI-D, and DWAI Charges?

DUI, DUI-D, and DWAI are all abbreviations that refer to different drunk and drugged driving offenses under Colorado law, as set forth in C.R.S. section 42-4-1301. There are significant differences between offenses, although they all involve driving after drinking or using drugs. However, you should have a clear understanding of the distinctions between the three charges so that you know what exact offense you allegedly committed.

DUI – Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

DUI is the most commonly charged offense of the three offenses listed above. There are two different ways that you can be guilty of a DUI:

  • DUI Per Se – You have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher when you are driving.
  • Common Law DUI – You are substantially incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely.

The penalties for a DUI conviction depend largely on your existing DUI or criminal history. For a first DUI offense, you are looking at a nine-month driver’s license revocation, a $1,000 fine, up to one year in jail, community service, and mandatory alcohol education classes. For a second-time DUI offender, however, you are looking at a longer license revocation, a higher fine, at least 10 days of mandatory jail time, as well suspended jail time and a probation sentence. For subsequent DUI offenses, the stakes are even higher in terms of the potential penalties. You also may be classified as a “persistent drunk driver” under Colorado law if your BAC measures 0.15 or greater, or if you refuse to take a breath or blood test at the time of your DUI arrest.

DUI-D – Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

A DUI-D charge is essentially the same as a DUI charge, except that you are substantially incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely either due to the influence of drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs. It does not matter whether the drugs in a driver’s system are illegal drugs or legally-obtained prescription drugs. The penalties are basically the same for a DUI-D as for a DUI.

DWAI – Driving While Ability Impaired

This offense is less serious than a DUI or a DUI-D, and, as a result, requires less proof in order to obtain a conviction. The prosecution must show that you were driving after you consumed drugs and/or alcohol, which affected your mental or physical ability to safely drive to the slightest degree. Your BAC need not be over .08 in order to convicted of DWAI. Rather, if your BAC is less than .08, but more than 0.5, the law presumes that you were impaired, although you can present evidence to the contrary. Plus, even if your BAC is less than .05, you can still be charged with DWAI if you exhibit signs of impairment.

A first-time DWAI offender can face a $500 fine and up to 180 days in jail, which are penalties that are substantially less severe than those for a DUI/DUI-D. However, a second-time DWAI offender faces penalties that are substantially harsher, and more in line with the penalties for a second-time DUI/DUI-D offender.

The Tiftickjian Law Firm has handled hundreds of DUI, DUI-D, and DWAI cases throughout the state of Colorado. Don’t try to handle complex DUI charges on your own. Call our office today and learn about your rights, your options, and the potential consequences that you may face for a DUI or DUI-related conviction.

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