DUI Vs. DWI: What’s The Difference?

Dui Vs. Dwi: What’s The Difference?

A DUI or DWI may do similar harm to your driving record, but their meanings aren’t necessarily the same. In many cases, there is a difference between DUI and DWI.

DUI refers to driving under the influence, while DWI refers to driving while intoxicated. In one state, DUI might be the same as DWI, while in another state the two terms could be different.

Either way, you don’t want those three letters showing up on your driving record.

The Meaning of DUI and DWI

DUI could mean driving under the influence of alcohol, or it may mean driving under the influence of drugs. The drugs could be over-the-counter, prescription or illegal. DWI, on the other hand, may mean driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired. The precise definitions depend on which state you’re in.

Regardless of what it’s called, a charge of DUI or DWI arises when a law enforcement officer thinks you were too impaired to drive. The impairment could be caused by alcohol, drugs, sleepiness or other factors.

Depending on your state, you may be accused of operating under the influence (OUI), operating while intoxicated (OWI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) instead of DUI or DWI.

When it comes to driving drunk, your state might make it illegal to get behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08%, except in Utah, where the BAC limit is 0.05%. In many states, drunk driving is treated as a misdemeanor, but repeat offenders might face felony charges.

And in many states penalties can increase if your BAC is at least 0.15%. BAC typically is determined with a breath, blood or urine test.

Keep in mind that in a lot of states you can be charged with drunk driving if you’re in the driver’s seat but your car isn’t moving. In some cases, you might even be charged with DUI, DWI or a similar offense if you’re steering a watercraft, moped, motorized scooter, bicycle or lawnmower.

Drunk and Drugged Driving Laws

To show you how complicated state laws are regarding drunk and drugged driving, consider legal definitions in New York. These include:

  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI) typically involves a BAC of at least 0.08%
  • Aggravated driving while intoxicated (aggravated DWI) involves at BAC of at least 0.18%
  • Driving while ability impaired by alcohol (DWAI/alcohol) involves a BAC of more than 0.05% but less than 0.07%
  • Driving while ability impaired by a single drug other than alcohol (DWAI/drug)
  • Driving while ability impaired by a combined influence of drugs or alcohol (DWAI/combination).

A driver in New York who’s under age 21 can be charged under the state’s zero-tolerance law if they’re suspected of driving with a BAC of 0.02% to 0.07%.

In New York, penalties for drunk or drugged driving include jail time, fines and loss of driving privileges.

Losing your driver’s license generally means that your car insurance will be canceled.

New York’s laws are just one example. Drunk and drugged driving laws and penalties vary from state to state. For instance, being convicted of a first offense for drunk driving could lead to a nine-month suspension of your driver’s license in Wisconsin or a one-year suspension of your driver’s license in Georgia and Tennessee.

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