It’s never a good idea to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcohol, and in the state of Colorado, there are pretty severe penalties for being only slightly impaired with minimal traces of alcohol in your system.

You’ve definitely heard of the acronym DUI, or driving under the influence, but what about DWAI? In the state of Colorado, driving while ability-impaired carries punishments that are only slightly less severe than a DUI.

Driving Under the Influence in Colorado

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Driving under the influence, or DUI, is the most typical charge received by Coloradans who are caught driving after drinking alcohol. In order to get a DUI, the driver’s blood alcohol content, or BAC, must be over the nationwide legal limit of 0.08%.

Driving While Ability Impaired in Colorado

On the other hand, driving while ability impaired, or DWAI, is a charge that can be given to anyone caught driving under the influence of any substance, or substances, that affect their ability to operate a vehicle.

The officer can arrest the driver and charge them with DWAI if they believe that a substance or substances affect them to the “slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.”

In addition, if the driver is found to have a blood alcohol content of at least 0.05% but under 0.08%, they can be charged with DWAI.

Penalties for DUI and DWAI in Colorado

Now that we know the difference between the charges, let’s take a look at the penalties for both DUI and DWAI.

A Coloradan’s first DUI offense comes with up to a year in jail, up to $1000 in fines, between 48 and 96 hours of community service, up to two years of probation, and suspension of their driver’s license.

A Coloradan’s first DWAI offense comes with up to 180 days in jail, up to $500 in fines, between 24 and 48 hours of community service, and up to two years of probation.

Of course, repeat offenders are given harsher punishments, but all in all, it’s best to only operate a vehicle in Colorado when you’re 100% stone-cold sober.

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