Colorado DWAI Versus DUI: What’s the Difference?

Colorado law imposes separate sets of penalties for people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) or driving while their ability is impaired by alcohol or drugs (DWAI). Because a DWAI charge or conviction is based on different facts than a DUI charge or conviction, it helps to know a bit about the difference between the two.

In Colorado, a DWAI charge requires a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 percent to 0.08 percent. BAC is typically tested using a breath or blood sample, which is most often collected at, or just before, an arrest. A first DWAI conviction includes penalties like eight license points, up to $500 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, and up to 48 hours of community service.


A DUI charge, meanwhile, is typically based on a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. For first-time DUI conviction penalties, a Colorado driver may face a nine-month license suspension and up to $1,000 in fines, up to 1 year in jail, and up to 96 hours of community service.

A DUI or a DWAI may also affect later drunk-driving convictions. For instance, a DUI conviction following an earlier DWAI conviction carries increased penalties, such as a one-year license revocation, increased fines, and increased community service requirements.

If you’re facing a drunk driving charge in Colorado, you don’t have to go it alone. A skilled Colorado DUI defense lawyer at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. can help. Call us today at (719) 475-2555 for a free, confidential case evaluation.

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