What’s the Difference Between a DUI, DUID, and a DWAI?

In the state of Colorado, many people assume that because marijuana is legal, they can get away with driving under its influence. This is not the case.

Marijuana is still considered a drug, and driving with any drug or alcohol in your system can result in a criminal charge. DUI, DWAI, and DUID charges are all abbreviations for a legal offense involving driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A charge for any of these crimes can have a negative impact on your record and your reputation for life. If you receive a DUI/DUID or a DWAI charge in the Denver area, Jeff Weeden can help. In this post, our Denver criminal defense team at WeedenLaw will cover the basics of the different types of charges associated with drunk and drugged driving. 

DUID in Colorado

DUID, or driving under the influence of drugs, is considered either a DUI or a DWAI in the state of Colorado. A DUI is a charge for driving under the influence, while a DWAI is for driving while ability impaired. An individual suspected of DUID must submit to a blood test rather than a breathalyzer. This is because a breathalyzer can detect the presence of alcohol but not the presence of controlled substances.

To receive a DUID means you consumed either one or more controlled substances (drugs) or a combination of both alcohol and drugs. By doing so, you were then made mentally and/or physically incapable of making clear judgement or having complete physical control. This made you unable to safely operate a vehicle of any kind. 

The first offense for a DUI or a DUID is typically a misdemeanor charge in Colorado, but will likely require a mandatory suspension of your license.

See our blog: 5 Do’s and Don’ts for Parents of Addicted Adults.

What is a DWAI?

DWAI (driving while ability impaired) is a less serious offense than a DUI. An officer can establish a DWAI with less proof than it takes for a DUI. To receive a DWAI, you must have consumed one or more controlled substances or combined both drugs and alcohol before getting behind the wheel. The difference between a DWAI and a DUID, though, is the degree to which it affects you. 

For a DWAI, the substance(s) will have affected you even in the slightest degree. The slightest degree means that you are mentally or physically less able to drive than what is ordinary for you. So while you may not be completely incoherent, you are still impaired to a degree which makes it unsafe for you to operate a vehicle. A DUID, on the other hand, occurs when you are far more impaired and obviously incapable of driving. 

To be charged with a DWAI vs a DUI, a blood or breath test must only prove a BAC (blood alcohol content) of over 0.05% and under 0.08%, which is the legal alcohol limit for driving in Colorado.

What is a DUI? 

As mentioned above, a DUI stands for driving under the influence. This charge occurs when you are operating a vehicle with alcohol in your system. A DUI and a DUID typically go hand in hand, as they carry the same charge. In fact, the law does not distinguish between drugs or alcohol when charging one of these crimes. 

A person may receive a DUI if their BAC shows a level of intoxication above 0.08%, which is the federal legal limit. If your BAC reaches a level of 0.15% or greater, you may get classified as a persistent drunk driver. This often brings much higher penalties. Refusing to take a blood or breath test at all is not an option, as it almost always leads to a DUI charge. 

What is the punishment for a DUID versus a DWAI?

Driving under the influence of any sort is a misdemeanor traffic offense in the state of Colorado. However, if you’re convicted three or more times, it will upgrade to a class 4 felony. If convicted of a DUID, DWAI, or DUI, the charge will remain on your driving record for life. 

In addition, for a first-time conviction of a DUI/DUID,  you may face up to a year in jail. You may also be subject to the following:

  • Driver’s license revoked for one year
  • Community service hours
  • Monitored sobriety
  • $1000 fine
  • Substance abuse education and therapy

A second-time offender might face the following penalties:

  • Driver’s license revoked
  • Community service hours
  • 10 days of mandatory jail time with a maximum of one year
  • Mandatory probation for two years
  • $1500 fine
  • Level II substance abuse education and therapy

Since a DWAI is a less severe charge than a DUI/DUID, it carries less severe penalties. First-time offenses for DWAIs may put you in jail for up to 180 days. It also carries a $500 fine

After the second offense for a DWAI, the penalties begin to look more like those of a DUI/DUID. Penalties can increase to up to a year in jail, $1500 in fines, license revocation, and a two year sentence of probation. The jury may also assign you community service, monitored sobriety, and substance abuse classes at their discretion. 

If you receive three or more of any of these convictions, it upgrades to a felony. This may carry a fine of anywhere from $2,000-$500,000, 2-6 years in prison, and 3 years of parole. 

Can I drive in Colorado after smoking marijuana?

Even though marijuana is now legal in the state of Colorado, it is still considered a drug. There is no separate statute that specifies driving stoned as opposed to driving with other drugs or alcohol in your system. The same laws for DUIDs and DWAIs apply to driving under the influence of marijuana in Colorado. The only real difference is that there is no “legal limit” for driving on marijuana. However, it’s inferred that you were driving under the influence of marijuana if you had 5 or more nanograms of THC in your blood. 

Even if an officer can prove you had a certain amount of THC in your system, that doesn’t mean you’ll receive a DUID or DWAI, though. A skilled Denver DUI defense attorney like Jeff Weeden can challenge the evidence in court to give you the best chance of walking away scot-free.

If you receive a DUI, DUID, or DWAI, contact WeedenLaw today

If you received any of these charges, time is of the essence. To avoid or minimize penalties and damage to your driving record, it’s important that you contact an attorney immediately. For more information on DUIs, DUIDs, or DWAIs in Colorado or to discuss your case, call attorney Jeff Weeden at 720-307-4330. Phones are open 24/7, and we do collect calls from inmates. You can also fill out our quick online form to schedule a free consultation.

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