DUI and DWI are commonly used terms in the US. DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence and DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired. The level of blood alcohol content which makes the driver liable to be arrested for a DUI or DWI is 0.08% in most states. In some states, only the term DUI is used to refer to the offenses involving intoxication or influence of alcohol or drugs while in some states, only the term DWI is used. DUI and DWI may sometimes be used collectively for all offenses involving intoxication and in some states, their meanings differ entirely and are used to refer to different situations.

West Coast – DUI – East Coast/South – DWI

DUI is sometimes referred to as driving under the influence of alcohol while DWI refers to driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. These drugs include marijuana, cocaine, heroin or LSD and some illegal prescription drugs such as opioids, narcotics, pain relievers, depressants and stimulants. Opioids, narcotics and pain relievers include OxyContin, Vicodin, Lortab, Percodan etc. and the class of stimulants includes Aderall, Concerta and Ritalin. It is also illegal to drive while under the influence of tranquilizers and sedatives such as Librium, Valium and Xanax. All these drugs fall under the definition of DWI if both DUI and DWI are used by a certain state law.

In some states, DWI is referred to as Driving While Impaired which includes alcohol intoxication, illegal drugs or some unknown substance while DUI means operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. In Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the term OUI is used which means Operating Under the Influence. The word operating broadens the range of actions that can be considered as offenses. If the vehicle is not running but the driver is intoxicated, the driver may be charged for OUI. In some jurisdictions, the term OWI is used which means Operating While Intoxicated. OWI refers to operating of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol level of 0.8% in the blood, or any other unknown substance.

Both are Bad

If a jurisdiction classifies the terms DUI and DWI, the penalty for DUI in that very state will be small-scale. DUI charge is a result of a lesser degree of impairment than a DWI which results in a more serious charge. The defendant, however, can plea to reduce the DWI charge to a DUI charge but only in case of a first offense and if the blood alcohol content does not excessively exceed the legal limit.

Get Professional Help

If an officer arrests you for DUI, DWI, OUI or an OWI criminal offense, you should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney. The attorney helps the defendant either to plea to reduce the charges or to counter the allegations imposed by the officer. This may be necessary as sometimes the breathalyzer needs maintenance and is not a very reliable source of information. It should be kept in mind that a police officer has the right to arrest a driver if the driver seems to be impaired by or under the influence of any intoxicating substance. While obtaining the licenses, drivers must agree to participate in all tests for DUI at any time. Refusing to take a test may result in suspension or loss of their driver’s license. Driving or operating a vehicle should be avoided if there is even a minor influence of any intoxicating substance to avoid the DUI or DWI charges and to save oneself from fatal accidents.

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