What You Should Know About DUI and DWAI


Driving while under the influence (DUI) and driving while ability impaired (DWAI) can be difficult to deal with given the laws of Colorado on the subject. The reality of the law is that some things are set in stone, some things are discretionary, and some things you just should not do. One of the biggest myths is that if you do not take or consent to a test the police cannot prove you are drunk and you will not lose your license. Not true.

What is set in stone?

  • If your Blood/Breath Alcohol Level (BAC) is under .05 you are driving while ability impaired.
  • If your BAC is .08 or higher you are driving while intoxicated.
  • Everyone who operates a motor vehicle is considered to have automatically consented to taking a blood, breath, urine or saliva test in Colorado.
  • There are two parts to DUI or DWAI: criminal and administrative. You will have to deal with the criminal courts with regard to the charge and you will have to deal with administrative hearings regarding your driver’s license. Do not ignore the notice that comes in the mail.
  • If you are convicted of three DUI/DWAI’s within seven years you face a mandatory 5 year license suspension as a “habitual traffic offender.”
  • If you are found guilty or make a plea bargain, you will be responsible for court costs and fines.
  • If you refuse a breath/blood test you lose your driver’s license for a year.


What is discretionary?

  • Depending on your BAC and traffic record there are varying ranges for how long, if any, your license can be suspended. The Department of Revenue does not have absolute discretion over the penalties. Some penalties they cannot change.
  • Some of the penalties carry a range of fines, jail time, or other penalties which can be bargained for or requested.
  • You may make a plea bargain with the prosecuting attorney, but that deal still needs to be accepted by the Court.
  • What happens in Court is not necessarily what will happen at the hearing about your driver’s license.
  • You may be able to get a restricted license which allows you to drive to work and home again. You may have to have a breathalyzer installed in your car that prevents your car from starting if alcohol is detected.


What shouldn’t you do?

  • Drive while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Even if you are just going to the corner to get cigarettes from the convenience store don’t do it.
  • Run away from the police before or after they have stopped you.
  • If you refuse to do a blood test or a breath test in Colorado you automatically lose your license. The refusal is also admissible in court and it can be inferred by the Court that you are guilty.
  • Become aggressive or argumentative with the officers who have pulled you over.
  • Sit in the driver’s seat of your car with your keys in the ignition or your hand.
  • Keep open bottles of any alcohol or containers of drugs or firearms in your car.

Be responsible and designate a sober driver, call a cab or a friend, and don’t drink and drive or drive while under the influence of drugs (legal or otherwise), these are always the best courses of action. If not for yourself, then do it for the person you might injure or kill if you get into an accident.

Written by Karen L. Geiger and June F. Bourrillion, Esq. for http://www.rkymtnlaw.com