Considering that 1 out of 139 drivers in the US will be arrested for driving under the influence in any given year, DUI is clearly a widespread issue.
Or is it DWI? How can you be sure?
We often hear the terms DUI and DWI used interchangeably, but are they really the same?
No, they’re not.
It’s not as easy as throwing out a couple definitions, though. The meaning of the term depends on the state you live in.
Read on to find out the difference between a DUI and DWI.
What’s the difference between DUI and DWI?
For clarity’s sake, let’s define the acronyms.
DUI – Driving Under the Influence
DWI – Driving While Intoxicated or Impaired
Those still sound pretty similar though.
Generally, a DUI refers to driving after using drugs or alcohol.
Note that it doesn’t matter whether or not your driving was noticeably affected. It also doesn’t discriminate between illegal drugs, over the counter drugs, or prescription medications.
When one is charged with a DWI, it is overwhelmingly because they were pulled over for drunk driving.
The officer determines that they’ve been drinking through field sobriety tests or breathalyzer. DWIs are frequently given for driving while your Blood Alcohol Content is above the legal limit (0.08%)
Your Location Matters
The differences between DUI and DWI differ from state to state, so it pays to know the rules in your location.
Here in Texas, it’s exactly like described above: DWI means drunk driving, and DUI means everything else.
For more information on DUI/DWI charges in Texas, check out this article.
Which is worse?
The differences between DUI and DWI are not just jargon differences – they play a part in determining the severity of a crime.
Since DUI is mostly reserved for drugs or an alcohol level under the legal limit of 0.08%, it’s often considered a lesser crime compared to DWI.
After all, the range of impairment from drug use is much wider than that of drunkenness. Driving while taking many prescription medicines is advised against, but rarely are they as detrimental to your driving ability as being inebriated.
Since DUIs are generally regarded as lesser offenses, it’s a common strategy to try to get a DWI charge reduced to a DUI.
If your BAC was recorded at exactly 0.08% or just over, or there were extenuating circumstances, you might be able to have it reduced.
Of course, you should always consult an attorney in such matters.
Stay Safe, Don’t Drink and Drive
Ultimately, the differences between DUI and DWI don’t matter all that much.
They are both serious offenses that have severe repercussions for everyone involved – even if no one is hurt.
A good rule of thumb: if you’ve had anything to drink, don’t drive. There are lots of options these days, like taking an Uber.
Make sure you have a plan to get home before you leave the house. Even better, don’t leave the house! It’s cheaper that way, anyway.
We understand that anyone can make mistakes, though, and we are here to help.