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Isn't DUI and DWAI the same thing? Nope, not in Colorado.

Many people are actually surprised to learn that there are several different charges associated with drunk driving under Colorado law. In fact, there is driving while ability impaired (DWAI), driving under the influence (DUI) and even a charge known as DUI per se.

While these alleged offenses may sound similar, they are actually distinct. Therefore, it is a good idea to know the differences between these offenses should you ever face a drunk driving arrest:

  • DWAI: If you get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or consuming drugs, and the alcohol or drugs affect you to even the slightest degree - meaning you are less able to exercise sufficient control, clear judgment or proper care - you may face a charge of DWAI.
  • DUI: If you get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or consuming drugs, and the alcohol or drugs affect you to the degree that you are substantially incapable of safely operating your vehicle or incapable of exercising sufficient control or clear judgment, you may face a charge of DUI.
  • DUI per se: If, after being pulled over by police, you submit to chemical testing, including a breathalyzer, and it shows you have a blood-alcohol-concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more at the time you were driving, or within two hours of driving, you may face a charge of DUI per se.

Can I face more than one of these offenses at once?

Even though you may have only been arrested once, prosecutors may actually charge you with two offenses - typically DUI and DUI per se. Colorado law actually permits this, and prosecutors do it often. However, you shouldn't panic if you find yourself facing these two charges since, even if you are convicted of both, your sentences will run concurrently, meaning you will only have to deal with one set of penalties.

It is also important to mention that the offenses mentioned above are not an exclusive list of alcohol-related offenses in Colorado. In fact, you may face additional penalties for other related violations, such as breathalyzer refusals. Given the complexity of DUI/DWAI law in Colorado, it is always best to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are ever arrested or charged with drunk driving.

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