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A quick guide to the differences between DUI and DWAI

Two different alcohol-related driving crimes exist in the state of Colorado: driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while ability is impaired (DWAI). This can be confusing since DUI is the more popular acronym. You might wonder how they differ and what will happen if you get charged with either for the first time. 

DUIs and DWAIs mostly differ based on the level of blood alcohol content (BAC). Below is an overview of the laws about these offenses and what penalties you might face for them. 

DUI law and penalties

Colorado has a DUI law similar to those in other states that notes the legal BAC limit for drivers 21 years old or older is 0.08 percent. A first-offense DUI comes with a license revocation for nine months, a fine between $600 and $1,000, up to one year of incarceration, an alcohol education course and community service.

DWAI law and penalties

The legal limit for a DWAI is 0.05 percent. This means you can get charged for drunk driving even if you do not hit the 0.08 percent mark for a DUI. According to the Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services, a first-time DWAI may be met with eight points on your driving record, a fine between $200 and $500, up to 180 days of incarceration and community service. 

Refusing a chemical test

If you refuse to take a chemical test when a police officer rightfully pulls you over, you could get your license revoked immediately and be required to drive with an ignition interlock device. However, the officer must pull you over with reasonable suspicision and properly inform you of the penalties of refusing such a test. 

Hopefully, this guide makes the differences between a DUI and DWAI a little less confusing. Now you know that a simple mistake of getting behind the wheel after a few drinks can get you in trouble. 

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