In Colorado, intoxicated motorists may be charged with driving under the influence, DUI, or driving while ability impaired, DWAI. The intoxicated driver laws in Colorado are more stringent than many other states. The federal mandate on blood alcohol concentration limits for motorists in the U.S. is .08%. States also set BAC limits for enhanced penalties. Most states have laws setting the legal BAC limit for motorists at .08%, with enhanced penalties at higher levels.
Understanding intoxicated driver laws
While the legal limit is .08%, most states have special stipulations for younger drivers, commercial drivers and recreational vessels. Colorado has a zero-tolerance policy that sets the legal limit for drivers under 21 at .02% BAC. Most states presume motorists with at least .08% BAC to be intoxicated and those below .05% to be not intoxicated. In many states, motorists within that range are presumed to not be impaired unless there is corroborating evidence warranting a DUI charge.
DWAI and DUI in Colorado
Colorado charges motorists who have .05% BAC with DWAI. Drivers who have .08% BAC are charged with DUI. The DWAI/DUI penalties in Colorado are substantial. The first DWAI conviction could result in a fine up to $500, up to six months behind bars, up to 48 hours of community service and eight points on the DMV record. Penalties for a first DUI conviction might include a fine up to $1,000, up to one year behind bars, up to 96 hours of community service and a one-year license suspension.
Officers might issue DWAI charges primarily based on the motorist’s behavior, a BAC test may not be required. In Colorado, the penalties for intoxicated motorists increase at .17% BAC. Although the penalties for DUI are more severe, both of these offenses are considered misdemeanors in Colorado. Motorists with previous convictions for alcohol-related driving offenses may face mandatory jail time for their next DWAI or DUI conviction.