When we think of DUI charges, alcohol is usually the primary substance we think of, but there is also a different version of DUI, known as DUI-D — driving under the influence of drugs. This charge can be levied against any person who is accused of operating a vehicle with drugs in their system that impair their ability to drive. The drugs in question could be illegal substances or could be prescription drugs. DUI-D charges should not be taken lightly — you could suffer the same penalties for driving under the influence of legal prescription drugs that you could for driving drunk.
If you have been charged with DUI-D in Colorado, you need to mount an immediate defense to fight these serious charges. Proving your innocence or negotiating a lesser charge will take hard work, dedication, and thorough knowledge of DUI laws in Colorado. As a former prosecutor, I know the Colorado criminal justice system from the inside, and I know how the prosecution will approach the case against you. That means that I know what it takes to provide you with a strong and capable defense. Contact me, Christian A. Schwaner, Colorado Springs DUI-D defense attorney today at (719) 440-6720 to get the qualified legal counsel that you need.
Understanding DUI-D charges
DUI-D is not a separate charge, it is a substance-specific allegation. Under Colorado law, this crime is defined as “driving a motor vehicle or vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, that affects the person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, of exercising clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.” If you have been charged with DUI and are accused of having had drugs other than alcohol in your system, you may be charged with DUI-D.
Note that the law does not single out any particular type of drug, and instead, It treats all drugs equally. This means that you can be charged with DUI for being under the influence of any drug, including:
- Illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines
- Marijuana, even though recreational marijuana is now legal under Colorado law
- Legal prescription drugs that could impair your ability to drive
If you are pulled over under suspicion of DUI-D, the officer will likely subject you to a field sobriety test. While there are questions as to how accurate these tests can be when assessing impairment by drugs other than alcohol, you do not need to be so impaired that you cannot drive at all to be hit with any charges. You may be charged with DUI, or with the lesser but still serious charge of DWAI, depending on how impaired the officer believes you were.
Understanding DWAI charges
DWAI stands for “driving while ability impaired.” The definition of DWAI under Colorado law is the same as that of DUI, except that the person only needs to be impaired by the substance “to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.” Even if you feel fine to drive, if you are accused of driving at even 1 percent less than your usual ability because of the drugs in your system, you could be found guilty of DWAI. Just like for DUI, this applies if the drugs in question are legal prescription medications or illegal substances.
Penalties for DUI-D and DWAI in Colorado
The penalties for DUI-D in Colorado are different for a first, second, and third or subsequent offense, becoming harsher with each offense. Penalties for some of these offenses can even include installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car, which will require you to test your breath for alcohol each time you start your car. Here are the penalties you could face if convicted of DUI-D in Colorado:
- 1st offense:up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, up to 96 hours of community service, and up to a 9-month license suspension
- 2nd offense:up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $1,500, up to 120 hours of community service, up to a 1-year license suspension, and installation of an IID for 2 years after getting your license back
- 3rd offense: up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $1,500, up to 120 hours of community service, up to a 2-year license suspension, and installation of an IID for 2 years after getting your license back
The penalties for DWAI, while lower than those for DUI, can still significantly disrupt your life. Here are the penalties for DWAI in Colorado:
- 1st offense:up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, up to 48 hours of community service, and 8 points on your DMV record toward a license suspension
- 2nd or subsequent offense: up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $1,500, up to 120 hours of community service, and 8 points on your DMV record toward a license suspension
Whether you have been charged with DUI-D or DWAI, you cannot afford the consequences of a conviction. Not only will you potentially have to spend time in jail and pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines, but a conviction can remain on your permanent record.
Contact Colorado Springs DUI-D Defense Attorney Christian A. Schwaner Today
If you have been charged with DUI-D or DWAI in Colorado, time is of the essence. The faster you get started building a strong defense, the better chance you will have of being acquitted of the charges or securing a lighter sentence. For more information on how I can help defend you against DUI-D charges in Colorado Springs, contact me online or call me at (719) 440-6720 today.