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What are the differences and penalties between DUI and DWAI?

If law enforcement stops a driver on suspicion of drunk driving, he or she could face an arrest for either DUI or DWAI. 

What is the difference between the two and what kind of penalties accompany a conviction? 

DUI and DWAI explained

DUI refers to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08% or higher. DWAI means driving while ability impaired with a BAC of 0.05% or higher. Keep in mind that there is a zero-tolerance law for drivers under the age of 21. 

A look at penalties

For drivers over the age of 21 who are first offenders, the penalty for a DUI conviction is a fine of $600 to $1,000, up to a year behind bars, up to 96 hours of community service, participation in an alcohol education course, loss of driving privileges for 9 months and the addition of 12 points to the driving record. For DWAI, the fine is $200 to $500 and up to 48 hours of community service plus the addition of 8 points to the driving record. 

Defense strategy

Colorado requires drivers to take alcohol breath tests even though there are reliability issues. To refuse will result in immediate license suspension. A law enforcement officer may urge the driver to take field sobriety tests, but these results are also unreliable because there are many reasons besides possible inebriation for failing such a test. However, the protection of personal rights is always front and center in a suspected drunk driving case. There are many questions surrounding an arrest for either DUI or DWAI useful in building a defense designed to produce the best outcome possible. 

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