Arrested for DUI or DWAI?

Know the Difference and What to Do Next

Consequences of DUI or DWAI Charges

A conviction for DUI or DWAI in Colorado is a life-altering, frightening event for all involved.
Given the consequences of either charge, it is advisable to immediately contact a Colorado
criminal defense lawyer to help you deal with such a complex legal situation. It is vital to
understand how the law defines these two offenses, and the truly sobering consequences of a
conviction in either one.

In Colorado, Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI) differs from Driving While
Ability Impaired (DWAI), primarily by the degree of impairment.

● DUI is generally indicated if you are substantially incapable of driving after taking
alcohol, drugs, prescription medications, or a combination. When your Blood Alcohol
Level (BAC) is at .08 per cent or higher, you are considered DUI. The total cost of a first-
time conviction for DUI, including various fines and fees, will exceed $10,000
. Penalties
escalate quickly for any successive convictions.

● DWAI (also referred to as DWI) is the term used if you are “in the slightest degree”
impaired by drugs, prescription medications, alcohol, or a combination. You are
considered DWAI at a BAC of between .05 and .08 per cent.

The consequences differ dramatically, depending on the level of impairment. A first-time DUI
conviction carries an immediate license revocation for at least 9 months -- a fine that ranges from
$600 to $1,000 and up to a year in jail followed by probation. A conviction of criminal Class II
Misdemeanor goes on your record for life. Additional penalties include up to 96 hours of
community service and an alcohol education program.

A first-time DWAI conviction means you get 8 points toward the suspension of your license, pay
a fine of between $200 and $500, spend up to 180 days in jail, and perform 24 hours of
community service.

If you are given a roadside sobriety test and do not pass, you are immediately handcuffed, taken
to a city or county jail, and your car is impounded. There is no direct penalty for refusing the
roadside tests although they may be able to introduce the refusal in trial. If you are detained and
refuse to take the chemical test (this includes breath, blood, or urine tests), you automatically
lose your license for at least one year, whether or not you are eventually convicted of a crime. In
addition, your car may be impounded, and you will have a criminal record, including photograph
and fingerprints. Next, you will be taken to a jail cell or alcohol detox facility until sober.

Convictions for subsequent offenses or for underage convictions carry even more severe

You Have a DUI or DWAI Conviction on Your Record. Now What?

If you have been charged with a crime or are going to be questioned by the police, they must
read you your rights. You have the right to help from an attorney at every stage in a criminal
investigation. Even if you are not under arrest or charged with a crime, your attorney can counsel
you to avoid any misunderstandings with the police that might place you in further jeopardy.

Once you are accused of a crime, you become the target of a criminal prosecution, which means
anything you say will be used to aid in your prosecution. In effect, the government is not
interested in helping you. Instead, they are now working to convict and punish you. When you
retain an Aspen or Glenwood Springs criminal defense lawyer, like Greg Greer, you have a
professional expert who can arrange to handle all communications between you and police
agencies, affording you some degree of protection. An invisible line is drawn, ensuring that the
prosecutor may not contact you outside the presence of your attorney. An experienced attorney
may be able to help improve your future prospects by having your record sealed, or arguing for
reduced charges.


A charge or conviction of DUI or DWAI in Colorado can have life-altering consequences. Learn
the full impact of such an event and some immediate steps to take if you find yourself facing
prosecution, conviction, jail and more. See why a criminal defense attorney can make a
difference in your life.

Company Bio

Attorney Greg Greer has been a practicing criminal defense attorney for over 25 years, assisting
thousands of clients in navigating the complex criminal justice system across Colorado, for
charges from DUI to First Degree Murder. Starting in 1982 as a Deputy State Public Defender in
the Fort Collins Regional Public Defender’s office, he next headed up the Glenwood Springs
office, responsible for the entire Ninth Judicial District and Eagle County. He has taught courses
on trial tactics, plea negotiations, and improved client representation in four states.

Sources: 1. Colorado Department of Transportation.
2. Colorado Department of Revenue. Division of Motor Vehicles.