Many motorists in the Denver area and across Colorado who have never been stopped by a police officer and been investigated for or arrested on a drinking-related offense might reasonably think that there is just a single charge associated with over-imbibing on the road.
That, they might think, is simply termed drunk driving. Alternative descriptors include driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while intoxicated.
Conversely, drivers who have had the enduringly memorable experience of dealing with one or more law enforcement officials on the roadside in an alcohol-connected encounter likely know fully well that Colorado law provides for some material distinctions when it comes to drinking-and-driving charges.
Driving under the influence (DUI), for example, is a criminal offense that relates to a motorist's blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. A separate offense termed driving while ability impaired (DWAI) comes into play when police allege that a motorist's BAC when stopped was .05 percent or higher, but less than the threshold minimum required for a DUI charge.
And then there is underage DUI, which is yet another distinct and separate category under Colorado law. As we note on a relevant page of our website at the Denver metro area law firm of Pearson & Paris, P.C., the singular charge of underage DUI is a civil offense applicable to persons under the age of 21 deemed to have a BAC of at least .02 percent but not more than the DWAI threshold of .05 percent.
An underage drinking charge in Colorado is obviously a serious offense that reasonably calls for timely scrutiny and rigorous representation from a proven attorney well-versed in handling alcohol cases involving minors.
Experienced legal counsel can often challenge a drinking-related stop or charge on one or a number of grounds that can range widely from lack of probable cause to stop a vehicle in the first instance to problems with field sobriety tests, machine calibration, the veracity of witnesses and more.