In New York and Colorado, you can be arrested for a DWAI if your BAC is within the legal limit. Both states have a BAC limit of .08, but you can be arrested for a DWAI if your BAC is between .05 and .07 and evidence, such as a failing a field sobriety test, indicates your driving ability is impaired. You can also be charged with a DWAI if you’re driving while under the influence of a drug listed as a controlled substance. In Colorado, you may be charged with a DWAI if your blood contains 5 nanograms or more of delta-9 THC (the active chemical in marijuana). If you are under the age of 21, you can be arrested for a DWAI if your BAC is only .02 percent.
The state of New York is unique in how it breaks down its DWAI definitions. If charged, you will have one of the three following DWAI penalties:
- DWAI — Alcohol: Operating a vehicle with a BAC level between .05 and .07 percent.
- DWAI — Drugs: Operating a vehicle while under the influence of non-alcoholic, controlled substances such as illegal, over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
- DWAI — Combination: Operating a vehicle while under the influence of legal or prescription drugs and a BAC between .05 and .07 percent.
A Colorado DWAI charge is similar to New York’s DWAI — Combination offense.
A first-time DWAI offense in New York has a maximum jail time, if convicted, of 15 days. Colorado is a little less forgiving and has a maximum jail sentence of up to 180 days for your first DWAI offense. If you have been convicted of a previous DUI/DWI in the state of Colorado prior to receiving a DWAI, the penalties will be similar to the more serious DUI charge. A DWAI conviction in either state will result in your driver’s license being suspended for a period of time. If you received a DWAI in a different state than you live in, you will need to check with requirements of the state where the DWAI occurred to see what steps need to be taken.
The penalties for a DWAI conviction may be less severe than those of a DUI or DWI. However, a DWAI conviction will also remain on record for your lifetime, and may even necessitate the use of an ignition interlock device.
Ignition Interlock Device
As with any drinking and driving penalty, you may be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle. An IID integrates breath alcohol testing with your vehicle’s ignition system. Prior to starting your vehicle, you will need to submit a breath sample into the IID. The device will read your breath sample to determine if it’s within the device’s legal limit. If you provide a passing breath sample, the ignition will be unlocked and you will be prompted to start your vehicle. Go here to locate the nearest installer to you.
If you need additional assistance with a DUI, DWI or DWAI charge, please get in touch with one of our DUICare experts so to walk you through the process.