Scroll Top

DWI vs DUI: The Difference Between DUI vs DWI

DWI vs DUI: The Difference Between DUI vs DWI

By: William C. Head, Criminal Defense Attorney for 48 Years explains drunken driving laws

Once arrested for impaired driving, many people look up the DUI-DWI difference. What’s the DWI meaning vs DUI? Regardless of the specific abbreviation used, the consequences of DUI v. DWI (drunk driving) can be severe.

Drunk driving can lead to fines, losing your license, and even jail time. It can also cause accidents that injure or kill you or others on the road.

What’s the difference between DUI and DWI? Driving under the influence, also known as DUI or DWI, is a serious crime. It has harsh penalties that can affect a person’s life and job. Some states, like North Carolina, consider the crime of DWI to mean driving while impaired, versus driving while intoxicated.

What is the DWI and DUI difference? In Civics or Government classes, we studied the difference between DWI and DUI, which relates to “States’ rights.” Each state can make its own laws, except for the ones based on English Common law. They can also name these laws themselves.

Each state has its own regulations regarding this issue. For example, Ohio uses OVI, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin use OWI, and Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island use OUI.

Oregon has DUII laws and Wyoming has DWUI laws. In the US, there are about ten different abbreviations for D.U.I. and D.W.I. from different states. Additionally, some states may use other acronyms such as OUI (operating under the influence) or OWI (operating while intoxicated).

In America, the acronyms D.U.I. and D.W.I. are well known. America is the only country without a single national law against impaired driving. refer to the act of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. However, the specific terminology used (D.U.I. versus D.W.I.) can vary depending on the state or jurisdiction.

Certain regions utilize the term “DUI” to denote driving under the influence of alcohol, whereas DWI is used to indicate driving while under the influence of drugs. However, in some states, these terms are used synonymously to describe any type of impaired driving.

What Are the Penalties of an Intoxicated Driving Conviction?

An impaired driving conviction will have other penalties and “consequences” for any conviction of an impaired driving charge. Universally, repeat offenders in all states (as each state separately defines what is a repeat offense) will make the next DWI conviction “cost” more, including heavier jail time.

The specific penalties for each offense can vary depending on the state and the circumstances of the incident, and quite a bit of variation exists from the most lenient states to the most punitive. One thing that is universal in each USA state is loss of driver’s license immediately upon conviction. Another is that some number of community service hours will be imposed as part of the person’s sentencing, too.

Many people immediately know that their auto insurance is at risk of being cancelled if a conviction hits their record. Any replacement car insurance will be substantially higher premiums and far less coverage, most likely.

For a person arrested for DUI offense, this level of penalties (after a DUI conviction) will have the lowest minimum, mandatory consequences.

It is important for all drivers to understand the risks and consequences of driving under the influence and to make responsible choices when it comes to alcohol consumption and operating a motor vehicle. Designated drivers, public transportation, or ridesharing services are all safe alternatives to driving while impaired.

How are D.U.I. and D.W.I. Different?

In some states, the two major national acronyms are used interchangeably, while in others, they may carry different legal implications. Regardless of the terminology used, it is important for all drivers to understand the dangers of driving under the influence or while intoxicated.

Impaired driving significantly increases the risk of accidents, injuries, and fatalities on the road. It is crucial for individuals to make responsible choices and never operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to drive safely, it is always best to find an alternative mode of transportation or designate a sober driver to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road. While they may sound identical on the surface, some states actually classify them as separate crimes.

If you live in a jurisdiction that classifies them separately, DUI may be the lesser charge. In these few states, a DUI charge denotes a lesser degree of impairment than a DWI for a driver charged with drinking and driving.

This level of impairment is determined by the driver’s breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of arrest. In some cases, the state may agree to a plea bargain, reducing a more serious charge of DWI to DUI.

In some states, both DUI and DWI laws exist. In rare instances, certain conditions must be met in order for the Prosecutor to reduce a DWI charge to a DUI in those states. For example, state law may mandate that the case must be a first offense and that defendant’s BAC level may not be excessively over the state’s legal limit.

Zero Tolerance Laws for Drunk Driving Cases

Some states in the U.S. have a zero tolerance policy for DUI and DWI. In these states, authorities consider any BAC over the legal limit a crime.

Different states use the terms DUI and DWI to indicate if a driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol, which adds to the complexity. People typically use the term DUI when drugs influence a person. Now that you know this information, you can see why obtaining help from a top DUI attorney is critically important.

More DUI vs DWI Resources

If you’d like to learn more about the differences between DUIs vs DWIs, read some of our articles below. We explore all the differences between DUI vs DWI so we can answer any questions you may have.

Find The Top-Rated DUI Lawyers Near You

We have listings for the top DUI lawyers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Find the best DUI lawyer for you by clicking on your state here.

Drunk Driving Defense