Colorado has some of the strictest intoxicated driving laws in the nation. If you are impaired by alcohol or drugs in the slightest degree, you could be charged with “driving while ability impaired”, or DWAI. DWAI charges are usually prosecuted as a misdemeanor under Colorado law. This doesn’t mean, however, that the consequences of a conviction will be light. You could still face jail time, heavy fines, community service, and points on your Colorado DMV driving record.
Fortunately, an arrest never automatically means that you’ll be convicted of DWAI, nor does it mean that you will have to suffer the full consequences the law allows. Instead, turn to an experienced criminal defense lawyer to get the qualified, aggressive legal representation your case deserves.
When you contact me, Christian A. Schwaner, I will defend you to the fullest of my ability. I know how severe the penalties for intoxicated driving can be in Colorado, and as a former prosecutor, I know just how the other side will prepare their case against you. It’ll be my job to defend you against the allegations you’re facing, and I’ll do everything I can to get the charges reduced or dropped entirely.
To schedule a confidential case evaluation with me, call (719) 577-9700 and get an experienced DWAI defense lawyer on your side right away.
What is a DWAI, and What Are the Consequences?
Most people are familiar with the concept of DUI or driving under the influence. In Colorado, your blood alcohol concentration must be over the legal limit of 0.08 to be charged with a DUI. What most people don’t realize if that authorities in the state can also arrest drivers if their BAC is at least 0.05 percent but lower than 0.08. This is known as “driving while ability impaired” or DWAI. If authorities believe that you are driving while affected by alcohol or drugs to even a slight degree, you may be on the hook with a DWAI.
In cases of DWAI, the penalties often depend on the number of offenses that you accumulate. If you’ve been charged with a DWAI here is a list of penalties you may encounter:
- First Offense- You could receive between 2 to 180 days in jail, a fine of $200 to $500, and/ or 24-48 hours of community service. You will also be hit with 8 points on your DMV driving record.
- Second Offense- You may see 10 days up to 1 year in jail, a fine of $600- $1,500, and/or 48-120 hours of community service. You will also be penalized with 8 points on your DMV records.
- Third Offense- 60 days up to 1 year in jail, a fine of $600- $1,500, 48-120 hours of community service, and again 8 points on your DMV record.
- Felony DWAI- If you have three or more prior convictions for DUI, DWAI, or other related offenses, you can end up facing a fine of $2,000- $500,000, two to six years in a Colorado state prison, and three years of mandatory parole.
There are other penalties you may face for a DWAI as well, which include completing an alcohol/ drug evaluation and treatment program. You are typically responsible for paying the fees associated with the program itself. It is also essential for drivers to remember that Colorado has what is known as an expressed consent law that required all drivers to submit to a breath, blood, saliva, or urine test if authorities have probable cause. If you refuse, you will face losing your license, again depending on whether it is your first, second, or third offense.
Do I Have Options if I am Charged With a DWAI?
As you can see, Colorado takes driving under the influence very seriously. The consequences you could face are numerous. Not only the legal implications, but there could be repercussions this charge may have on your job and your family as well. No doubt, you are anxious and want to put all of this behind you and move on. Don’t feel pressured or hopeless just because you were arrested for a DWAI; you have options.
An experienced defense lawyer can examine the facts and evidence surrounding your case and build an aggressive defense strategy. Perhaps you were stopped illegally, or the sobriety test results are invalid. There are many different situations where you can build a solid defense and fight back against the charges. Talking to an experienced defense lawyer at Christian Schwaner, P.C can give you an idea of what defense strategy could work for your particular case.
Frequently Asked Questions about DWAI Charges in Colorado
Have you or a loved one been arrested and charged with DWAI in Colorado Springs or the surrounding areas? I can help you understand your rights. Read the answers to a few frequently asked questions below, and call me directly to schedule a consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.
I have a DUI in another state, will that impact my case in Colorado?
A: Convictions in other states may impact your sentence here in the state of Colorado. An attorney can help you understand what to expect and what defense may work for you.
How will a prosecutor prove a DWAI?
They will need to show a BAC level of at least .05 to establish their case against you. That’s why it is usually a good idea to refuse a breathalyzer, blood, or chemical test if you’ve been arrested on suspicion of DWAI. That is, unless you’re under 21 years of age, in which case, you cannot refuse pre-arrest testing during a traffic stop.
Because Colorado is an express consent state, you can be compelled to give a blood, breath, or chemical sample after a valid arrest. This is because by getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and driving on Colorado roads, you have “expressly consented to testing” if you’ve been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
It is important to note, however, that avoiding taking a requested sobriety test post-arrest can carry a harsh set of penalties in Colorado, including:
- Suspension of driving privileges for one year (although you can apply for reinstatement after two months)
- Designation as a “persistent drunk driver” in Colorado
- Mandatory ignition interlock device in the vehicle for one year after the restoration of driving privileges
- Mandatory DUI classes
- Mandatory SR-22 insurance coverage, even if you are found not guilty of DWAI
The prosecution will also use the fact that you refused testing as evidence at trial. Still, refusing testing could be worth it if you feel confident that the test will leave no doubt that your BAC was above the legal limit.
Contact a Colorado DWAI Lawyer Now
If you or a loved one is facing DWAI charges in Colorado Springs, contact me, Attorney Christian Schwaner for help right away. Don’t let the complex and confusing legal system run you down. I will be ready to sit down with you to go over the facts surrounding your case and we’ll discuss how I can help defend you. Call (719) 577-9700 or reach out to me online, and get the peace of mind knowing that I’ll be fighting to defend you.