DUI vs DWI
The phrase “DUI vs DWI” highlights two serious and similar driving related criminal terms. But what do the initials actually stand for? DUI is the acronym for Driving Under the Influence and DWI can be either Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired. Another term that is often used in a similar context is Operating While Impaired (OWI).
All these phrases refer to laws governing driving after consuming alcohol or drugs. It is a widely held myth that to be charged as being under the influence of drugs, the drugs must be illegal narcotics, such as heroin, cannabis or cocaine. This is not true: in addition to illegal narcotics, this can include over the counter and prescribed medication such as painkillers, sleeping pills and tranquilizers. Generally speaking when illegal drugs are involved, the courts are likely to be harsher with the defendant than when it is simply a case of accidentally driving after still being under the influence of sleeping tablets. Though this cannot be assumed.
In all cases, a person faced with any of these charges is advised to seek the best legal help available as soon as he or she possibly can. The laws relating to driving whilst drunk or under the influence of drugs or alcohol are complex and the various possibilities need to be assessed as early as possible by a competent DUI lawyer. Notice I use the term “competent”. There are lots of attorneys out there, not all of them are well versed in the drunk driving laws. You would be best advised not to place your future into the hands of a lawyer more used to handling divorce or property cases than DUI and DWI law.
This article is for your information only: it is not intended to replace good legal advice. Consult a specialist DUI Attorney as soon as you are able. DUI vs DWI is a complex matter!
The severity of the offense may vary according to which jurisdiction you fall under. In some states, the drunk driving laws make use of both DUI and a DWI, with DUI being the lesser charge. Here a DUI will usually signify a lesser degree of intoxication, as determined by the suspect’s blood alcohol level at the time of their arrest.
In many states (such as Texas) those arrested for DUI or DWI will have two separate cases pending against them. The first will be a civil case of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxiacted (DWI); the second is the DUI or DWI criminal case. In Texas, DUI is regarded as a Class “C” misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $500.00, but with no jail-time for a first offence. Repeat offenders would typically receive higher fines and face the possibility of spending time in jail. Alcohol assessments and classes, community service and probation are also insisted on by most prosecutors.
In certain other states – for example New Jersey and Virginia – there is no legal difference between DWI vs DUI. Here they deem any blood alcohol level over the specified limit as a crime that is to be punished in the same way. The other side of the coin is that in Minnesota they do not recognise DUI because they are restricted to the crime of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).
In other states, the terms DUI and DWI are used to differentiate between whether the suspect was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, with DUI used for the presence of illegal drugs.
States will sometimes allow charges of DWI to be reduced to DUI. In this case certain conditions must typically be me. These may include the incident being a first offense and a display of remorse by the defendant. It will also be more likely if the blood alcohol level was not recorded as being too far over the legal limit. In the state of New York, for example, differentiates between DWI and DUI by stating that the blood alcohol level of .08 is the legal limit for DWI. If a suspect has a blood alcohol level of .07, the charges may be reduced to a DUI, which will usually carry a lesser punishment.
You can be charged with DWI when found to be operating a large number of vehicles including automobiles, boats and other water vessels, aircraft and amusement park equipment. If a person is shown to be operating any of these while under the influence of drink and/ or drugs they risk facing serious charges. Persons under the age of twenty-one (minors) are subject to the same penalties as an adult in both the criminal and civil case.
The consequences of being found guilty for any of these charges is far-reaching and could affect the rest of your life. Aside form the criminal penalties you may incur, your insurance rates will hit the roof, you could lose your job and your future employment prospects will be seriously curtailed. A drunk-driving conviction on your record can prevent you from getting many jobs, not all of them to do with driving or transportation
It is important that you consult the best DWI attorney you can afford just as soon as you can.
One good reason for getting a good lawyer is something called DUI/ DWI Expungement. If you have been convicted of DUI/DWI, or plead guilty, you have hope. In certain cases, you may be eligible to have a drinking and driving charge expunged from your record. This means that the legal record of your DUI conviction is erased or sealed. It will be very nearly like your DUI conviction never happened. But be aware that in certain states, an expunged DUI/DWI conviction could be revived during a later prosecution for a subsequent drunk-driving case.
So, DUI vs DWI… the best answer is to never find yourself in the position of being taken to court for driving whilst impaired by drink or drugs. The reason the penalties are so severe these days is that this is a serious crime that can ruin people’s lives. A drunk driver is far more likely to kill or injure innocent people that someone who is stone cold sober. Remember that the next time you have “one for teh road”. But if you are repentant and need to get the best possible treatment possible, our advice is to consult a competent DUI lawyer. And soon. Some of the best and keenest ones around advertise online.