When people decide to get behind the wheel after ingesting mind-altering substances, everyone else on the road can be at risk. In order to reduce the number of serious car crashes and maintain social safety, Colorado has strict laws in place against operating a motor vehicle, even a boat, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Just because the state of Colorado has legalized marijuana doesn't mean that they encourage people under the influence of this popular recreational drug to drive. If a chemical blood test indicates that a driver's blood has 5 nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of blood, that could be sufficient to bring DUI charges against that person.
The difference between impaired and under the influence
Colorado has two separate levels of charges for those who drive after consuming chemical substances. Driving while ability impaired (DWAI) is the lesser of the two. Generally, this charge gets brought against someone who failed a roadside sobriety test or who was driving poorly with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of between 0.05 percent and 0.08 percent.
Driving while under the influence (DUI) charges generally occur when someone has a BAC of 0.08 percent or greater. Because those charged with DUI offenses are believed to have more alcohol in their systems, they generally face stricter penalties. The same is true of those whose BAC is 0.15 percent or higher. These people could face stricter penalties.
The number of previous offenses impacts the punishment
A first DWAI offense can result in a fine of between $200 and $500, up to 180 days in jail and up to 48 hours of community service. A first DUI brings loss of your license for nine months, a fine of between $600 and $1,000, up to a year in jail, and up to 96 hours of community service, as well as alcohol education.
A second DWAI or DUI could result in between 10 days and a year in jail, as well as a fine of between $600 and $1,500. If someone gets charged a third time with a DUI or DWAI, the penalties increase to between 60 days and a year in jail, a fine of between $600 and $1,500, and loss of their license for a full 24 months.
Up to three DUI or DWAI charges may result in misdemeanor charges. However, for those repeatedly accused of DUI offenses, a fourth and any subsequent DUI charges will be considered felonies by the courts. That charge carries a minimum sentence of at least 90 days in jail, but many offenders will face between two and six years in jail. Clearly, the more times a person gets charged with a DUI, the more serious the penalties become.