Is DWAI a Misdemeanor in Colorado?

The state of Colorado takes incidents of impaired driving extremely seriously.  No matter if you are found to be driving while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both, to be found impaired to the slightest degree is to be in breach of Colorado’s drunk driving laws.  In order to protect all those on the road, Colorado has added another lesser offense under the category of impaired driving. This is known as a DWAI or driving while ability impaired. While this is a lesser charge than DUI, which occurs when your blood alcohol concentration is found to be above .08%, you can be charged with DWAI if your BAC exceeds .05%. 

While this is a lesser charge, it still carries with it many unpleasant consequences.  In most cases of DWAI, the offender will be facing misdemeanor charges. However, under very specific circumstances, such as being a repeat offender, you may face a felony charge for DWAI.

Consequences of Conviction of DWAI

The severity of your consequences will depend upon the number of convictions on your record for DUI or DWAI.

Those convicted of a first offense DWAI will be subject to misdemeanor charges.  Penalties include 8 points on your license, a fine of up to $500, up to 48 hours of community service, and as much as 180 days spent behind bars.

Those convicted of a second offense DWAI will also be facing a misdemeanor charge.  Second offenses carry with them harsher consequences, including a mandatory jail sentence of 10 days with the possibility of up to one year spent behind bars, 8 points on your license, fines up to $1,500, and up to 120 hours of community service.

A third offense DWAI is still a misdemeanor, although mandatory jail time is significantly more.  Penalties include a mandatory jail sentence of 60 days with the possibility of up to one year spent behind bars, 8 points on your driver’s license, a fine of up to $1,500, and up to 120 hours of community service.

A fourth or more DWAI conviction is no longer a misdemeanor but a Colorado class 4 felony.  Charges become more significant for repeat offenders who have exceeded three or more prior convictions for DUI, vehicular homicide, DWAI, or vehicular assault.  Penalties for this conviction are exceptionally harsh and include fines of up to $500,000, three years of mandatory parole, and up to six years spent behind bars in a Colorado state prison.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged With DWAI

While these consequences may make you feel hopeless, your future does not have to be bleak.  An experienced DUI attorney can fight for you. There are many viable DWAI defenses that may be able to reduce or even have your charges thrown out altogether.  Something as simple as providing evidence that an officer did not have probable cause to pull you over can positively impact your case. Despite a lesser misdemeanor charge being the outcome of most DWAI cases, penalties are still significant.  Protect your reputation and future by allowing the experienced eye of a skilled attorney to scour the details of your case!