The Colorado DUI statute is not specific to alcohol. Authorities can charge a person with DUI if they are under the influence of drugs. There is also a lesser included driving under the influence charge called driving while ability is impaired.

Driving under the influence charges are serious and can have significant consequences. These types of charges get progressively worse if the defendant has prior impaired driving offenses on their record. 

It is always important to speak with a DUI Defense attorney that understands DUI law. It is also important to understand DUI law if you are facing one of these charges. 

You are the person in charge of your case, and it is up to you to make the decision. A DUI attorney can help make that decision, but it is always your duty decide how to handle a DWAI charge.

What is the Difference Between DUI and DWAI?

Driving under the influence is the operation of a motor vehicle while the defendant is impaired. Operation includes being in actual physical control of the vehicle. Drugs or alcohol can impair a person's ability to drive safely. This impairment must be significant for it to affect their ability to operate a vehicle.

Driving with impaired ability is a lesser included. Drugs or alcohol impair it to the slightest degree. A Judge imposes the same punishment for DWAI as for driving under the influence.

Language is an important factor. A DUI is substantially impaired, and a DWAI is impaired to the slightest degree. Considering alcohol, a DUI is having a blood alcohol concentration above a .08. To be charged with DWAI, the blood alcohol concentration required is .05. 

Is there a DWAID under Colorado Law?

Most DUI defense attorneys will use the terminology DUID to describe driving under the influence of drugs. Driving under the influence of drugs does not have a separate offense; it falls under the general terminology of DUI. 

Likewise, there is no specific offense related to DWAI. A person can commit driving while ability is impaired of drugs. We will handle this charge like any other driving while ability is impaired charge.

The problem comes with the lack of clarity in the statute. Driving under the influence of drugs and DWAI-D are hard to gauge because they are different from alcohol related offenses.

How is DUID and DWAI Drugs different from Alcohol cases?

The Colorado legislature has imposed legal limits for driving under the influence of alcohol. If you drink and have a BAC test result of .08 or higher, you will get a DUI charge. People do not commonly know the lower limit of .05. 

THC has a limit of 5 nanograms of active THC. This is not particularly high. There is no lower limit for THC and DWAI. A blood test determines THC.

Apart from these two drugs, the government hasn't provided any instructions on driving under the influence or impaired driving. 

There are a host of legal and illegal drugs that defendant could test positive for after driving. Drugs' effects are not well-known like alcohol or marijuana, and a defendant might use them with a valid prescription. The complications of driving under the influence of drugs will always require a DUI lawyer to help.

How Do You Approach a Driving While Ability is Impaired by Drugs Case?

It is always important to remember the jury instruction. These are rules given to a jury concerning the law governing a specific case. Colorado law says a person is DWAI if they are a little impaired, and the jury instruction follows this law. That language is dangerous to a criminal defendant.

Second, a defendant should always consider the drug that is found in the blood. An anti-depressant could calm a defendant down and help a defendant drive better. On the other hand, Ambien is a sleep aid and should never be in a person’s system while driving. The purpose of the drug is always to first step in the analysis.

However, the amount of the drug is also crucial. Medication has a therapeutic window. Understanding what the meaning of therapeutic window is crucial in a DWAI drugs defense case.

This is the amount of drug that needs to be in a person’s system to achieve the desired outcome. These are numbers that are commonly known. Some drugs can cause impairment if the dosage exceeds these therapeutic ranges.

In most cases, it will be important to hire toxicologists to provide opinions concerning blood results. They will explain how medication affects a defendant's ability to drive and why it is important. Most Denver DUI attorneys routinely work with toxicologist.

What is the punishment for DWAI in Colorado?

Driving while ability is impaired is an unclassified misdemeanor in Colorado. A first offense carries a maximum jail sentence of 6 months. The court is required to impose a 2-day jail sentence. 

The jail time can be suspended with the completion of an alcohol or drug class. A judge can impose a maximum fine of $500. There are also costs associated with probation.

A court can place a defendant on probation as well. Probation requires the defendant to adhere to certain rules. These rules include staying sober, performing community work, attending a MADD meeting, and taking a class on alcohol and drugs. 

Probation can be one to two years. In a lot of cases, a court will consider early termination of probation. 

Driving privileges will not be impacted by a DWAI, unless you are dealing with points. A second or a third DWAI can result in an administrative revocation. A DUI typically has a revocation based on the Colorado Express Consent Statute. This can also impact a commercial driver.

Second and a third dui convictions are punished in the same manner a driving under the influence charge. A second DUI carries a mandatory 10-day jail sentence. The mandatory minimum jail sentence for a third DUI in Colorado is 60-days. 

A fourth DWAI is considered a felony under Colorado Law.


While a DUI may seem simple, it can get complicated quickly. No two DUI cases are the same. Each case and each defendant require a DUID attorney to tailor a defense to their case and goals.

Request a consultation today if you face charges for a DUI or DWAI offense in Aurora or the Denver Metro Area. We are open during regular business hours, and we will stay late and be available on the weekends if necessary.

Schedule a free consultation with a DWAI Defense attorney from the Lawrence Law Firm. We are ready, willing, and able to represent you. Our firm charges flat fees, but we also provide flexible payments plans. Your financial situation should not compromise your legal defenses.

Request a consultation today with our DUI Lawyer.