If you are pulled over by an officer for suspicion of drunk driving, you can face one of two charges depending on the details of your actions. Both acronyms DUI and DWI refer to someone operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs; however, there are some differences that many people aren’t aware of. Primarily, the difference between these two types of charges literally comes from what the acronyms stand for. While DUI stands for driving under the influence, DWI stands for driving while intoxicated.
These two charges may sound similar, but some states classify them as separate and distinct actions with a different set of consequences. Facing either charge can be a stressful and frightening time in your life. Fortunately, a dui defense lawyer can help protect your rights and interests in even the direst situation.
Depending on the state you live in, these two charges may both be used and be classified as separate charges. If this is the case, DUI is typically used for drivers that are less impaired. Additionally, if both terms are used in a state, DWI may refer to driving while intoxicated of just alcohol, while DUI refers to a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Either charge means at the time of arrest, the officer believed the motorist was too impaired to operate his or her vehicle safely.
In some states, the terms are used to differentiate between drunk driving charges issued to minors verses those issued to individuals who are over the legal drinking age. In states with these regulations, they also often have a “zero tolerance” policy, which means a driver will face charges even if they register less than a .08% BAC.
If your state uses both DUI and DWI, the state may agree to a plea bargain for those charged with DWI. In this case, the judge may reduce the level of charge from DWI to DUI if certain conditions are met. An example of one of these conditions is if this was the driver’s first offense and his or her BAC was not over the state’s legal limit.