The Difference Between DUI and DWI

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DUI-and-DWI Difference

Many people get confused by legal terms, and the terms DUI and DWI are legal terms that describe drunk driving violations based on how drunk the driver was at the time of the violation. The two terms are both descriptions of violations, one being more severe than the other. In any case, in any state in the United States, a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) is a more serious offense than a DUI (Driving Under the Influence), and invariably draws a stiffer penalty.

The basic difference is the difference between being legally drunk while driving, or simply driving under t5he effects of alcohol without actually being legally drunk. Either way, driving after imbibing liquor is dangerous, but one is more dangerous than the other and therefore one incurs more serious penalties than the other. Let’s take a look at the main differences.

DWI (Driving While Intoxicated)

This is the more serious of the two crimes, between DWI and DUI. If you are charged with a DWI, it means you were charged for driving while fully intoxicated. While there is no federal or standard blood/alcohol content level that delineates the difference between the two, the difference is based on how much alcohol you have in your blood system, a clear indication that you have been drinking alcohol before you got behind the wheel. The amount of alcohol content in the bloodstream that separates a DWI from a DUI changes from state to state, as it is determined by state law. In some cases anything over .05% constitutes a DWI, in many it is 08%.

In regards to a DWI, this means that you are being charged with the maximum drinking and driving charge available legally. In some states the charge is OWI (Operating While Intoxicated), but that means the same as a DWI.

DUI (Driving Under the Influence)

This is the lesser of two charges in states where there is a difference between driving drunk, legally, and simply having alcohol in your system, though not enough to be considered legally drunk. Today, in many states, there are zero tolerance laws, which means that DUI’s draw the maximum penalty. In those states that enforce zero tolerance laws if you drive after having any alcohol at all, legally drunk or not, you draw the maximum penalties available.

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