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A DUI or DWI can cause similar damage to your driving record, but their meanings are not necessarily the same. In many cases, there is a difference between DUI and DWI.
DUI refers to driving under the influence, while DWI refers to driving while intoxicated. In one state, DUI might be the same as DWI, while in another state the two terms might be different.
Either way, you don’t want those three letters to appear on your driving record.
The meaning of DUI and DWI
DUI could mean driving under the influence of alcohol, or it could mean driving under the influence of drugs. Drugs can be over-the-counter, prescription, or illegal. DWI, on the other hand, can mean drunk driving or impaired driving. The precise definitions depend on the state you are in.
Regardless of the name, a drunk driving or DWI charge arises when a law enforcement officer thinks you are too weak to drive. Impairment can be caused by alcohol, drugs, drowsiness or other factors.
Depending on your state, you may be charged with driving under the influence (YES), drunk driving (OWI) or impaired driving (DWAI) instead of DUI or DWI.
When it comes to driving while intoxicated, your state may prohibit driving with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of at least 0.08%, except in Utah, where the limit d blood alcohol level is 0.05%. In many states, driving while intoxicated is considered an offense, but repeat offenders can face felony charges.
And in many states, penalties can increase if your blood alcohol level is 0.15% or more. The blood alcohol level is usually determined by a breath, blood or urine test.
Keep in mind that in many states, you can be charged with impaired driving if you are in the driver’s seat but your car is not moving. In some cases, you could even be charged with impaired driving, DWI, or a similar offense if you operate a boat, moped, motorized scooter, bicycle, or lawn mower.
Drunk and Drugged Driving Laws
To show you just how complicated state laws are regarding drunk and drugged driving, take a look at legal definitions in New York City. These include:
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI) generally involves a blood alcohol level of at least 0.08%
- Aggravated driving while intoxicated (aggravated DWI) involves a blood alcohol level of at least 0.18%
- Driving under the influence of alcohol (DWAI / alcohol) involves a blood alcohol level greater than 0.05% but less than 0.07%.
- Driving while impaired by a single drug other than alcohol (DWAI / drug)
- Driving while impaired by the combined influence of drugs or alcohol (DWAI / combination).
A New York driver under the age of 21 can be charged under state zero tolerance law if they are suspected of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.02% to 0.07%.
In New York City, penalties for drunk or drugged driving include jail time, fines and loss of driving privileges.
Losing your driver’s license usually means your auto insurance will be canceled.
The New York laws are just one example. Laws and penalties for impaired and drugged driving vary from state to state. For example, being convicted of a first drinking and driving offense could result in a nine-month driver’s license suspension in Wisconsin or a one-year license suspension in Georgia and Tennessee. .