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DUI vs DWAI in Colorado – Denver DUI Attorney Jacob E. Martinez

The Difference Between DUI and DWAI in Colorado

In Colorado, there are two separate and distinct alcohol or drug-related driving offenses: Driving Under the Influence (DUI); and Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI).  Each constitutes a misdemeanor offense.  However, the standards, burdens, and punishments are different for each.

The more serious of the two is DUI.  In Colorado, there is a permissible inference that if an individual is driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or above, or if the individual is driving with an active blood THC content of 5 ng/ml, then the individual is under the influence of a substance while driving.

For DWAI, there is a permissible inference that if an individual is driving with a blood alcohol content between .05 and .08, then his or her ability is impaired by alcohol.  There is no statutory THC range establishing a permissible inference for DWAI.

As is evident, DUI contemplates a higher degree of impairment by a substance than does DWAI.  Additionally, the legal standards a prosecutor must prove in these cases are different — with the standards for DUI being more rigorous than DWAI.

For DUI, a prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual was operating a motor vehicle when the person had consumed alcohol, drugs, or both, so that such consumption “affected the person to a degree that the person was substantially incapable” of operating a motor vehicle.  

In contrast, for DWAI, the standard is lower.  Specifically, to get a DWAI conviction, a prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual was operating a motor vehicle when the person had consumed alcohol, drugs, or both, so that such consumption “affected the person to the slightest degree so that the person was less able than the person ordinarily would have been” to operate a motor vehicle.

Because the burden is far lower for DWAI than DUI, DWAI can be a more challenging conviction to avoid.  However, Denver DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez has successfully avoided such convictions many times over.  He has the skills and knowledge to identify legal issues and defenses in such cases in order to defeat either DUI or DWAI charges.

If you are facing a DUI or DWAI charge, contact experienced Denver DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez today to discuss your case.

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