DWI is an acronym for “driving while intoxicated.” Similarly, DUI stands for “driving under the influence.” Another substitute word or phrase for DWI is “driving while impaired.”
Although the meanings of both terms are different, they imply the same offense. However, the implications and punishment for both crimes may vary from state to state.
In all ways, DUIs and DWIs implicate the driver in committing a serious offense that puts everyone at risk.
What’s the Difference Between DUI And DWI
Notably, the terms DWI and DUI denote drunken or impaired driving. From a legal point of view, in some states of America, drunk driving is termed DWI, while others call it DUI.
Often, a DUI means operating a vehicle at or above BAC 0.08 legal alcohol limit, while a DWI case implies an impairment that is less measurable and may attract less harsh punishment.
Note that any amount of alcohol will affect a person’s ability to drive. Operating a vehicle while intoxicated can get a DUI.
The indiscriminate use of both terms in different parts of America is confusing. Most people use both times to refer to drunken driving.
Some states have clear and specific connotations for both terms. A DUI might occur when a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving. In contrast, DWI refers to driving while intoxicated, with a blood alcohol content (BAC) higher than the legal limit.
Most states use the acronym “DUI” for driving under the influence of alcohol. They use DWI for driving while impaired by narcotics, alcohol, or drugs.
Consider looking up your state’s traffic laws to understand the legal connotation of these acronyms in your state.
Impaired driving and penalties for DUI or DWI charges can get a fine of $2,000 fine or up to 180 days in jail upon conviction with three mandatory days.
In addition to fines and jail time, other penalties for deaths may include probation or parole and driver’s license suspension.
Related article: Breath Alcohol Test
DWI And DUI From A Legal Point Of View
They are similar offenses from the point of view of the fatal consequences they cause to themselves and others. Despite this, the difference between DUI and DWI is not always vivid and clear in legal proceedings.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a nationwide definition for these driving rule violations. Motor vehicle driving rules enshrined in federal laws do not distinguish between the two offenses.
Different punishments are pronounced for DWI and DUI offenses in various states of America. Both violations are the same for all reasons but are considered other driving behaviors.
A driver’s BAC (blood alcohol concentration) above 0.08 is punishable under Texas penal code. Underage drivers who have any amount of alcohol in their system can get a DUI.
DUI charge is commonly called ‘drunk driving.’ It refers to operating a motor vehicle while one’s blood alcohol content is above the legal limit set by statute, which is supposedly the level at which a person cannot drive safely.
DWI stands for ‘driving while intoxicated or impaired,’ an offense committed by an individual who operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or narcotics.
Is drugged driving a DUI or DWI?
A driver can become impaired by an overdose of the drug. In such a situation, a police officer can reprimand or arrest the driver for impaired driving. Drugged driving is a legal offense worthy of trial and imprisonment.
Overuse of prescription drugs, OTC drugs, or illegal drugs can cause impairment. The arresting officer may seek the help of a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to verify drugged driving clinically.
In the case of proven drugged driving, the driver can be charged with DUI or the latter. The charge can vary from state to state according to the legal classification of drugged driving.
If you are on regular doses of prescription drugs, beware of the impairment the medicines can cause while driving. Indiscriminate use of illegal drugs or non-prescription medications can make you impaired.
Alternative acronyms: OWI and OUI
For your notice, other terms are used for drunken driving in some states of America. For example, “operating under the influence” (OUI) is used in Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts.
Some other jurisdictions use the term “operating while intoxicated” (OWI) to refer to drunken driving.
Some state courts have more significant implications attached to the term “operating.” The importance goes beyond the fault of driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even when the vehicle is halted or not running, a person in the driver’s seat can be penalized for ‘operating under the influence.’
What Are the Consequences of a DUI or DWI
If you are charged with a DUI or impaired driving under any circumstances, you will face serious consequences. The seriousness of the crime varies according to the jurisdiction.
If charged with a DWI or DUI, they count as a misdemeanor in most states.
If you are found guilty of impaired driving or operating a vehicle when impaired by alcohol, you may face punishments like:
- Revocation or suspension of your driving license for some period
- Pay fines and court fees.
- Imprisonment or confinement in rehabilitation centers
- Placed on probation with community services
It is not easy to get your driving license back after the revocation. In most cases, both drivers have to attend defensive driving classes to get their licenses back. The trial court may also recommend you for an alcohol or drug treatment program.
Possible Outcomes of A DWI Or DUI Conviction
A criminal defense attorney or DUI lawyer can help you understand the legal terms and penalties they attract.
Drivers under conviction for impaired or drunk driving may solicit undesirable consequences such as:
1. Change in insurance status
When the driver returns his license, he will likely need SR-22 insurance. Technically speaking, this doubles or triples the insurance premium. On the whole, the driver has to pay higher insurance premiums for at least a minimum of three years.
In the U.S., the average auto insurance rate increase for drivers with a DUI is 70%.
Repetition of the offense may lead to the loss of insurance coverage.
2. Upgrade safety measures
In the case of DWI driving, some states demand the upgrade of safety devices in the vehicle driven by the defaulter. The police may ask the driver to install an ignition interlock device. The car will not start unless you blow into the machine and will not start if your breath contains alcohol. Also, you have to pay the cost of the device, its installation charges, and monthly monitoring fees.
3. Suspension or revocation of license
The severity of the DWI/DUI driving offense depends partly on whether you have injured or killed someone. According to the severity of the crime, you may be banned from driving for life or have your license suspended for a year or two.
If you have injured or killed someone during DWI driving, you will be imprisoned for several months to many years.
5. Confiscation of the vehicle and license plate
Police officials can impound or confiscate the vehicle involved in a DUI/DWI. It happens especially if the driver causes injury to another person through reckless driving.
The Final Thought
In conclusion, it is a bad thing to get punished for DWI or DUI driving. However, you can avoid it if you are conscious and careful about good driving culture.
Even with solid prescription medicines, you can get into impaired driving. Most opioids and sedation medicines can affect attention or focus or induce sleep while driving.
It would help if you made a conscious decision not to drive while under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating drugs.
Driving rules and punishments can ban you from driving, and you can be penalized for violating driving rules. It is also embarrassing to face a DUI or DWI conviction.
Recommended reading list:
- A State-by-State Analysis of Laws Dealing With Driving Under the Influence of Drugs. 2009, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Drunk Driving. 2017, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Walsh, J. Michael; Gier, Johan J.; Christopherson, Asborg S.; Verstraete, Alain G. (11 August 2010). “Drugs and Driving“. Traffic Injury Prevention. 5 (3): 241–253