The difference between DUI and DWI may not always be clear because neither infraction has a national meaning. Federal statutes do not indicate the difference between DUI and DWI. In reality, however, many states have made it clear that there is a difference between DUI and DWI charges, and the two offenses often pertain to comparable but distinct driving behaviors.
When looking at how states address driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances, understanding the difference between DUI and DWI might be beneficial. In both the commercial and governmental sectors, DUIs and DWIs often result in financial and legal penalties.
Both DWI and DUI apply to alcohol and other substances that impair your ability to drive (including recreational drugs and those doctors usually prescribe). Neither is superior to the other, and both may have a significant impact on a person’s life.
In this article, we will explore “what does DWI mean,” the difference between DUI and DWI, and more. We will also discuss punishments such as fees and penalties.
Let’s first start with the difference between DUI and DWI.
Differences Between DUI And DWI
This varies based on the state in which the occurrence happens. The names may have various meanings or apply to the same violation. In any event, DWI and DUI are both severe offenses that put the driver’s life and the lives of others in peril.
Depending on state legislation, both phrases are used to characterize impaired or inebriated driving. The crime of intoxicated driving is referred to as a DUI in certain states and a DWI in others.
When states employ both designations, things become complicated. Frequently, one word refers to alcohol while the other phrase refers to impairment caused by substances other than alcohol (such as prescription or recreational drugs), and the definitions might vary from one state to another.
Let’s go over “what does DWI mean” and is it any different than DUI?
What Does DWI Mean And Is It Different Than DUI?
DWI refers to driving when the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit in several jurisdictions. When a motorist is convicted of being under the influence of alcohol or other substances in certain states, the term “DUI” is used.
DWI is a term used in other states to describe driving while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or an unknown chemical. Driving under the influence of alcohol is referred to as “DUI”. It’s essential to double-check the state’s definitions.
DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. A DUI happens when someone drives while under the influence of alcohol.
The federally permitted blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit is 0.08 percent. Depending on the driver’s age, certain states may prosecute DUI charges at BAC levels as low as 0.01 percent.
A DUI may be given in several places without the police testing the BAC using a breathalyzer. A DUI may be charged in certain situations based on reckless driving conduct, suspicion of alcohol influence, or a field sobriety exam.
DWI stands for Driving While Impaired. There is no difference between DUI and DWI charges in certain jurisdictions that define a DWI as driving while impaired. DWI is explained to mean driving while impaired by medications, whether prescription or recreational, in jurisdictions that recognize them as distinct offenses.
Each of these allegations implies that the motorist was engaging in risky activity while operating a vehicle. Even if a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below the state’s legal limit, he or she might be charged with DUI or DWI if they fail a field sobriety test.
Because jurisdictions with zero-tolerance rules may not distinguish between DUI and DWI infractions, the location of the incident has a significant influence on the legal consequence.
What Does A DUI Or A DWI Arrest Imply?
If you are caught driving while impaired, no matter what the crime is called in your area, you will face serious consequences. Fees, license suspension, and court-ordered therapy are all possible outcomes.
Fees And Penalties
You will be compelled to pay penalties and court expenses if you are convicted of a DWI or DUI. These costs vary based on where you live. Legal penalties include probation, jail time, and community service.
License Suspension Or Revocation
You will almost certainly lose your driver’s license if you are found guilty or plead guilty. You’ll almost certainly have to take defensive driving training to regain your driver’s license.
Treatment For Drugs Or Alcohol
You will almost certainly be evaluated for your drinking or drug use tendencies in most states. You may be required to participate in a drug or alcohol treatment program as a consequence of the findings of that examination.
This approach might include anything from attending a few Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to enrolling in a residential treatment center.
Increasing Insurance Premiums
You’ll almost certainly require SR-22 insurance whenever you are given your driver’s license again. Depending on the rules in your area, this might double or triple your rates. You may anticipate paying higher rates for three years on average.
Interlocking Ignition Device
Depending on your state, you may also be forced to have an ignition interlock device put on your vehicle, which prevents you from starting it until you use a breathalyzer and it confirms that you have not consumed alcohol.
This necessitates the purchase of the equipment, as well as its installation and a monthly monitoring charge.
If you commit a second crime, you may face prison time. You will very certainly be put on probation and forced to conduct community service.
DUI Or DWI Convictions: Punishments
DWI First Offense
In most jurisdictions, a DWI first offense is considered a misdemeanor and carries a sentence of six months to a year in prison. In New Jersey, for instance, the maximum sentence for a DWI first offense is 30 days in prison.
Furthermore, while it is unusual, certain states, such as Pennsylvania, do not impose any potential prison term for a first DUI. Many states also require first-time offenders to serve at least a few days in prison. Subsequent DUI charges are considered repeat offenses.
The maximum potential prison term may be increased for a second and subsequent DUIs. However, the obligatory minimum prison term for a second conviction is more likely to be longer.
For example, in Colorado, the minimum prison term for a first crime is five days, ten days for a second offense, and sixty days for a third offense.
In Colorado, however, the maximum sentence for a first, second, or third DUI is one year in prison—the same sentence for all three convictions.
Felony DUIs And Extenuating Circumstances
A variety of additional factors might influence the length of time you will spend in prison if you are convicted of DUI.
Some jurisdictions, for example, impose harsher penalties for DUI or DUI offenders whose blood alcohol content (BAC) was exceptionally high at the time of the arrest. Many states have enhanced punishments for DUI-related accidents.
For a felony DUI or DWI—either because the motorist murdered or wounded someone, or because the offender has a history of DUI convictions—prison terms of several years or more are fairly unusual.
The details are determined by state law, the circumstances of the case, and the judge’s discretion at trial.
Punishment In Alternative Forms
Alternative sentencing alternatives, such as drug abuse education and prevention programs, treatment for substance addiction, and community service, are available in several states.
In these states, judges may propose these actions instead of prison time or penalties, especially for first-time offenders. Alternatively, the court may combine them with additional punishments.
In addition to legal consequences, a DUI conviction may result in the driver’s insurance coverage being canceled or dramatically increased. A DUI conviction also remains on a person’s driving record for a long time.
Additionally, some vocations, such as driving a school bus, delivery van, or any other vehicle as part of their work, may not employ people convicted of a DUI.
Finally, if accident victims opt to sue for property loss or physical injury, the driver may face a separate civil case.
Whether you’re speaking about DUI or DWI, the difference between DUI and DWI is subtle, and the charges against them are peculiar to each state.