The Leier Law Office LLC
Pulled over by police car

In the state of Colorado, DUIs are a common occurrence. In fact, according to the Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs Report, there were 20,880 total DUI arrests in Colorado in 2019 alone. Even though getting pulled over for drinking and driving is common in Colorado, an accusation is something you need to take very seriously. 

You may be facing a DUI, DWAI, or DUID charge. But what’s the difference between these different acronyms? Essentially, DUI, DWAI, and DUID charges all refer to criminal offenses involving drunk driving or drugged driving. While there are differences between them, each of these charges could negatively impact your personal reputation, your professional life, your freedom, and your future.  

At The Leier Law Office LLC, we’re dedicated to offering strategic representation and reliable legal guidance to clients in their drunk driving cases. Our skilled Colorado criminal defense attorney can help you understand the differences between DUI, DWAI, and DUID offenses and their legal implications. In addition, we will outline a solid defense to help fight your charges and strive to keep your record clean. We’re proud to serve clients across Fort Collins, Windsor, Loveland, Evans, Greeley, and the rest of Colorado. 

DUI Charges in Colorado

DUI is an acronym for driving under the influence. In Colorado, a person may be facing DUI charges for operating a motor vehicle or non-motorized vehicle: 

  • While under the influence of alcohol, or 

  • With a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.08%. 

Generally, DUI offenses in Colorado are often charged as misdemeanors. However, the penalties will increase depending on the number of prior convictions and other aggravating circumstances. 

DWAI Charges in Colorado

DWAI is an acronym for driving while ability impaired. Under Colorado laws, a person may be facing DWAI charges for operating a vehicle: 

  • After consuming drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both, and 

  • The alcohol or drugs affected the person “to the slightest degree.” 

Your driving ability is affected “to the slightest degree” if the drug or alcohol affects you physically or mentally, thereby making you less able to exercise sufficient physical control, clear judgment, or due care to operate a motor vehicle safely. 

Alternatively, a person may be arrested and charged with DWAI for driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.05% and 0.08%. DWAI will typically be charged as a misdemeanor.

DUID Charges in Colorado

DUID is an acronym for driving under the influence of drugs. According to Colorado laws, a person may be facing DUID charges if they operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of one or more drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol. 

Generally, the drugs or controlled substances must have made the person physically or mentally incapable of having complete physical control or making clear judgments while driving. A first DUID will most likely be charged as a misdemeanor.

Key Differences and Similarities

Here are some of the major similarities and differences between DUI, DWAI, and DUID: 


A defendant suspected of DUID must take a blood test rather than a breathalyzer. This is because only blood tests can detect the presence of drugs. In contrast, a breathalyzer can only detect the presence of alcohol. 

BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) 

To be charged with a DWAI, you must have a BAC of more than 0.05% and less than 0.08%. Conversely, facing DUI charges requires having a BAC of 0.08% or more. If you have a BAC of more than 0.15%, you will be considered a persistent drunk driver. 

Severity of Charges and Penalties 

Generally speaking, a DWAI is a less serious charge compared with a DUI and DUID. Hence, a first DWAI offense carries lesser penalties. The penalties for the first DUI or DUID are exactly the same. However, after a second DWAI offense, the punishment may start to look similar to DUI or DUID penalties. 

DMV Points 

A DUI or DUID conviction will result in 12 DMV points on your driving record. Conversely, a DWAI conviction will result in 8 DMV demerit points on your driving record. You are only allowed 12 points in a 12 month period before your driving privilege is revoked.

Felony Penalties 

First, second, and third DUI, DWAI, and DUID offenses are charged as misdemeanors. However, fourth and subsequent offenses will be upgraded to a felony. Felony DUI, DWAI, or DUID penalties may include a fine of $2,000 to $500,000, between two and six years in prison, and three years of mandatory parole. 

If you or someone you know has recently been arrested and charged with a DUI, DWAI, or DUID offense, you need to reach out to a knowledgeable DUI/DWAI defense attorney immediately. Your legal counsel can investigate the details of your case and help strategize a strong defense

No Matter Your Charge, Trust an Experienced Attorney

Facing drunk driving-related charges can be scary and overwhelming. However, understanding the nature and legal implications of your allegations is important so you can start building your defense strategy. At The Leier Law Office LLC, we are proud to defend clients in their DUI, DWAI, and DUID cases. 

Using our in-depth legal understanding and our attorney’s experience as a former prosecutor, we can guide you through the Colorado criminal justice system and represent you at every phase of the legal process. Above all, our attorney will fight to uphold your rights and improve your chances of a brighter tomorrow. 

Are you facing DUI, DWAI, or DUID charges? Don’t face them alone. Contact us at The Leier Law Office LLC today to schedule a case evaluation with a strategic DUI defense lawyer. Our attorney can offer you the counsel you need to fight your charges. We’re proud to serve clients across Fort Collins, Windsor, Loveland, Evans, and Greeley, Colorado.