DWAI and DUI Laws in Colorado

Daniel Noffsinger - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The state of Colorado has two alcohol related driving offenses distinguishable and charged by the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of the drunk or impaired driving suspect. They are driving while ability impaired (DWAI) and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI).

DWAI Defined

DWAI is defined under the Colorado Revised Statutes and states that a person is driving a vehicle while ability impaired if after consuming alcohol, drugs, or both the person’s ability to safely operate a vehicle is affected. The person’s BAC level needs to read between .05 and .08% to support a DWAI charge and create a rebuttable presumption that the person’s ability to drive was impaired. Penalties for DWAI include imprisonment for two (2) to one hundred eighty (180) days; fees and fines; and community or public service. Probation, alcohol and drug evaluation and attendance at a victim impact panel may also be required and include additional costs. A DWAI conviction also affects a person’s driver’s license subjecting the person to a suspension or revocation of his or her driving privileges.

DUI Defined

DUI is triggered when BAC levels read higher than .08%. Penalties include jail, fines and fees, license suspensions, and after the second offense the installation of an ignition interlock device. A driver under the age of 21 is charged with DUI if his or her BAC level reads higher than .02%.

Express Consent Law

Colorado’s express consent law means that if you drive on Colorado roadways you automatically agree to take a chemical test (including breath, blood, and urine) if asked to participate in testing by a law enforcement official. Failure to consent triggers an automatic one year driver’s license revocation. Subsequent refusals of a chemical test increase the license revocation period and require the installation of an ignition interlock device.

New DUI Laws

Colorado modified its sentencing requirements with respect to DUI cases. Judges are now required to follow a mandatory minimum schedule when sentencing a person in a DUI case. So, if a person is convicted of a second DUI offense, the judge will impose a mandatory 10-day minimum jail term. A third offense triggers a 60 day mandatory minimum jail term. A fourth offense is classified as a felony DUI punishable with up to six years in prison. Repeat DUI offenders are not eligible to wear ankle bracelets and must serve the requisite jail term or apply for work release to satisfy sentence requirements. No exceptions.

Hire an Experienced DWAI/DUI Defense Attorney

Colorado DWAI and DUI laws may contain a no look back period. This means that any prior alcohol or drug related driving arrest counts as a prior record no matter the circumstance. The penalties, fines, and jail sentences increase in severity with each DWAI or DUI arrest. You must consult and hire an experienced DWAI/DUI defense attorney to counsel you on the appropriate steps to take to address your DWAI or DUI arrest. If you have been pulled over for suspected drunken driving call Noffsinger Law at (719) 368-3688 or email our Colorado Springs office to schedule an immediate DWAI/DUI consultation.