What is Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) in Colorado?

The definition of Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) is found in the Colorado Revised Statutes Sec. 42-4-1301(1)(g) “…[D]riving a motor vehicle to that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been either mentally or physically …to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.” DWAI in Colorado can be a serious offense with harsh punishments in Colorado.

DWAI is short for “Driving While Ability Impaired” and how that alcohol level is defined according to Sec. 42-4-1301(6)(a)(II) “If at such time the defendant’s BAC was in excess of 0.05 but less than 0.08 such fact gives rise to the permissible inference that the defendant’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by the consumption of alcohol and such fact may also be considered with other competent evidence in determine whether or not the defendant was under the influence of alcohol.”

So, in Colorado if you submit to a “Chemical Test” of your blood or breath (Intoxilyzer 9000) then you will get a test result. If your test result is .00 up to .049 then the “Presumption” is that you are not impaired by alcohol. Sec. 42-4-1301(6)(I) states “If at such time the defendant’s BAC was 0.05 or less, it shall be presumed that the defendant was not under the influence of alcohol and that the defendant’s ability to operate a motor vehicle or vehicle was not impaired by the consumption of alcohol.

If though your test result is .08 or higher, then you will be charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Drugs, or Both.

Similarities between the charges of DUI and DWAI in Colorado:

  1. Both are general misdemeanors.
  2. Both remain on your driving record for the rest of your life.
  3. Any conviction for either will remain on your criminal record for life.
  4. Both carry a probation terms.
  5. Both require you to complete Treatment.
  6. Both require Monitored Sobriety.
  7. Both require Useful Public Service. The minimum though for the DWAI is 24 hours and the minimum for the DUI is 48 hours.
  8. Both carry with the conviction a “fine”. DUI – from $600.00 to $1,000.00 and for the DWAI from $200.00 to $500.00.
  9. Both require payment of the Costs of Court.

So, you ask, how then is the DWAI in Colorado different? Many people feel like they are better off with the DWAI as it “feels” lesser than the DUI. Some people call DWAI the “DUI Lite”. Some people believe the DWAI looks better for job purposes than having a DUI on their employment record.