DUI vs. DWI

Difference Between a DUI and a DWI

What is the difference between a DUI and a DWI?

We often hear the terms DUI and DWI on the news as there are daily reports of people being arrested for both by police. There are times when both terms are used interchangeably but there are in fact differences in what each means and the consequences of being arrested for either one. DUI is meant to stand for Driving under the Influence and DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. If arrested for either you are looking at being charged with a serious offense, especially if you are a repeat offender.

In the United States today, each state deals with DUI and DWI offenses in their own way. In most states however, being arrested for a DWI is a more serious offense and it is often determined by taking a breathalyser test when stopped by the police. The purpose of the breathalyser is meant to determine the level of alcohol in the offenders system. The result of the test will determine if the person is driving under the influence or is in fact intoxicated. First time offenders often plead guilty to the lesser charge of a DUI. In states that have had a high incidence of both DUI and DWIs, the state has decided to make no distinction between the two. Both are considered serious offenses in some states.

Traditionally the term of DUI was meant to refer to a person who is driving while under the influence of alcohol but there have been recent changes to the definition of this term that it now includes drugs and alcohol. The drugs can be either legal or illegal as either can impair a person’s reaction time while driving. When asked to take a breath test by the police, blowing anything above a level of 0.08 is considered to be a DWI. If you blow anything less than 0.08 you may be charged with the lesser offense of driving under the influence. As stated earlier there are some states that do not make the distinction between the two charges and in these states everyone is booked under the charge of DWI.

If you have been stopped and arrested for a suspected case of a DWI you will automatically lose you license for a period of time. If you are a repeat offender it may be taken away indefinitely. A person charged with a DUI often does not lose their license, does not receive any jail time but is given a monetary fine.  It is advised that you do not consume any drugs or alcohol if you are going to be driving your car as there is a chance that you will injure yourself and someone else. No matter what you are being charged with you will need to appear in court before a judge before you are released from jail on bail. A court date will then be set to determine what the punishment will be for the crime.