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Your Boulder DWI Case: The Basics

Ever since your son bought that blasted Harley-Davidson bike, his life has been like a Sons of Anarchy episode. He joined up with a motorcycle "club" and now all he does is ride around town and wreak havoc. Last night, the Boulder County Sheriff arrested him for DUI out on State Highway 7. The boy never learns. He was doing over 100 mph on that death trap and wrapped himself around a pole. He's sitting in Boulder County Jail and you don't plan to bail him out.

But, like any parent, you are still worried. If you or someone you know has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both in the Boulder, you're probably looking for some information. Here are some general things to know about DUI/DWAI cases in Boulder.

Getting Arrested in the First Place

Let's discuss about how you even got here. You were probably pulled over by the Boulder Police, the Boulder County Sheriff, or the Colorado State Patrol. Or you might have gone through a DUI checkpoint. Either way, a police officer suspected you were too intoxicated to safely drive your car.

After performing pretty poorly on the roadside tests, the cops probably took you to jail where you are booked, fingerprinted, given a choice of a blood or breath test.

What's the difference between a DUI and A DWAI in Boulder?

The police submit your case to the Boulder County District Attorney. Their office will decide what your charges will be.

You can be charged with a Boulder drinking and driving offense two different ways: DUI or DWAI. DUI stands for "driving under the influence." DWAI stands for "driving while ability impaired."


A DUI means you were driving a motor vehicle (this includes a motorcycle) after having consumed alcohol or drugs, or a combination. As a result you were substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation your car.

Ways You Can be in Violation of the DUI LAW:

You can be found guilty of a DUI in Boulder if your driving and/or field sobriety tests show you are mentally or physically impaired. Your blood alcohol content can be less than .08. However, the fact that your blood or breath showed you were over a .08 creates a rebuttable presumption that you were under the influence and in violation of the law.


A DWAI means a you were driving a vehicle (this includes a motorcycle) after having consumed alcohol or drugs, or a combination, and it affected you so that you're less able than an ordinary person to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of your vehicle. Your BAC can range from a .05-.07 at the time you were driving.

Underage Drinking and Driving

Alright, hotshot. Think drinking and driving is cool? Think again.

The state of Colorado is seriously cracking down on this behavior. Boulder County has zero tolerance for any underage drinking and driving. It's known as "Underage Drinking and Driving Offense" (UDD) and applies to anyone under 21 who has a BAC of .02 but less than .05. If your is .05 or higher you'll finally get to be treated like an adult, but for all the wrong reasons. You'll receive the same administrative and criminal penalties as an adult driver.

Am I Going to Have to Deal with the DMV?

Sadly, the answer is yes. Most people don't realize that when they are arrested for a DUI/DWAI in the District, they'll have to deal with two historically unpopular government agencies: the Colorado Department of Revenue/DMV and the Boulder criminal courts system.

Why? Because the DMV will handle your license suspension pursuant to the implied consent laws and the courts will deal with your criminal case.

What if I Refuse to Take a Blood or Breath Test?

Well, you might want to review the law surrounding this issue. It is located in Colorado Revised Statute 42-2-126. If you don't take a blood or breath test, your license will be automatically taken away for one year. If this is your second refusal, you'll lose your driving privileges for two years. If this is your third time, it's a charm. Say goodbye to your license for three years.

Potential DUI/DWAI Penalties

The criminal courts will impose criminal penalties including possible jail time, fines, and public service. The DMV will impose administrative penalties including suspending or revoking your license.

What are the Potential Criminal Penalties?

First, it's important to realize that the higher your BAC, the more severe the penalties. Multiple convictions will also result in harsher penalties. Also, DUIs are extremely expensive.

1st DWAI

  • 2 days - 180 days Jail
  • $200 - $500 Fine
  • 24 hours - 48 hours Public Service

1st DUI

  • 5 days - 1 year Jail
  • $600 - $1,000 Fine
  • 48 hours - 96 hours Public Service

DWAI or DUI with one previous DWAI or DUI

  • 10 days - 1 year Jail
  • $600 - $1,500 Fine
  • 48 hours - 120 hours Public Service

DWAI or DUI with two or more previous DWAI or DUI

  • 60 days - 1 year Jail
  • $60 - $1,500 Fine
  • 48 hours - 120 hours Public Service

Other penalties

In addition to the fines already listed, you may also have to pay penalty surcharges of up to $500 to help pay for programs to address persistent drunk drivers, and another $200 for alcohol treatment evaluation, as well as surcharges to benefit crime victims. You also might have to complete education, therapy or a combination of both.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device

The judge might order you to install an ignition interlock devices (PDF) in any car you own or operate. It designed to make sure you aren't drinking alcohol and driving. Anytime you attempt to start your car, get ready to blow into it.

The Final Word on Boulder DUI/DWAI

We hate to sound like a public service announcement, but it's true -- select a designated driver ahead of time, who will stay sober. If you're impaired and don't have a designated driver, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation. If you do find yourself facing a DUI/DWAI, it may be a good idea to contact a criminal defense lawyer or the public defender's office.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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