Being accused of driving under the influence is an incredibly stressful ordeal. If, however, you have previously been convicted of driving under the influence or driving while ability impaired, you likely have a slew of questions about how your past may affect your future. Colorado has very strict laws and severe penalties for anyone convicted of impaired driving, and it is critical that you understand the charges against you and what can be done to protect your rights throughout this ordeal.
DUIs, DUIDs, and DWAIs
If law enforcement develops probable cause that your ability to drive is impaired, he or she has a variety of ways to charge such an offense. A DUI (Driving Under the Influence) refers typically to alcohol consumption but can include impairment from drugs, including prescription drugs. Being charged with DUI means that the law enforcement officer believes he or she has probable cause that you have been impacted by alcohol and/or drugs to the point that you are substantially incapable of safely operating your vehicle.
DUID, short for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, is a subsection of DUI and is charged where law enforcement believes the consumption of drugs renders a person substantially incapable of operating his vehicle in a safe manner. It’s important to note that a DUID can apply to both legal and illegal narcotics. Taking prescription medicine that leaves you impaired and then operating a vehicle can end up with you being charged the same as if you were taking illegal substances.
Driving While Ability Impaired, or DWAI for short, is a lesser offense of DUI and DUID. Even if you are not substantially incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle, if a police officer believes that you are impaired to the slightest degree by alcohol, drugs, or both, then he or she will charge you for DWAI. If you have a prior offense, the sentencing laws for subsequent offenses treat DWAI and DUI, for all practical purposes, the same.
What About Marijuana?
With marijuana now legal in Colorado, many people are unsure of how DUID laws apply to cannabis consumption. The current law states that drivers who have five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their blood can be charged with DUID. This applies equally to medicinal and recreational users. Additionally, Colorado’s open container laws apply to marijuana in the same way they do to alcohol, and can be applied to cannabis paraphernalia and packages.
Some of the Penalties for Second and Third Convictions
Irrespective of a person’s age, prior convictions greatly increase the potential penalties for subsequent offenses. Regardless of the BAC or BrAC, there is mandatory incarceration of 10 days for a second conviction and 60 days for a third. These mandatory sentences apply regardless of whether the convictions were for DWAI, DUI, or DUID. Other penalties include potentially hefty fines, up to 120 hours of community service, and up to four years of probation.
Colorado’s Felony DUI Law
Under Colorado’s felony DUI law, a person with three or more prior DWAI, DUI, or DUID convictions will be charged with a felony DUI if law enforcement believes it has established probable cause for DWAI, DUI, or DUID. The underlying convictions can be from any time over a person’s life. In addition to a possible sentence to the Colorado Department of Corrections, a person, at a minimum, will be required to serve 120 days of jail if he is convicted of a felony DUI. While a first offense DWAI or DUI may seem like a youthful indiscretion, there can be unforeseen consequences years down the line in a person’s life.
With such severe consequences, it is imperative that anyone charged with DWAI, DUI, or DUID act swiftly and decisively to protect his or her rights. The our team of experienced DUI attorneys at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., have the knowledge and skill to vigorously defend you and we will do our utmost to get you the best outcome possible. Call (719) 401-0585 to schedule a consultation.