DUI and DWI – Is There a Difference?

DUI and DWI – Is There a Difference?




How is DUI or “Driving Under the Influence” different from DWI or “Driving while Intoxicated or Impaired?” It may be difficult to differentiate one from the other. But while both refer to maneuvering a motor means while under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol, the two vary in degree and details. It is noteworthy that different states in the U.S. treat DUI or DWI situations in different ways. Interestingly there are states that do not make a distinction between the two i.e. New Jersey and Virginia. Having the knowledge about DUI or DWI is basic in case you get charged for any of these offenses.

DUI is categorized as a misdemeanor and is in general considered less serious as it pertains to a lesser degree of intoxication. consequently penalties are lesser in severity. DUI can either be a criminal case or a civil case depending on the circumstances. It is considered a civil case if the offender is below 21 years of age. Otherwise, it is considered criminal. If the breathalyzer or blood test consequence is found to be under the legal alcohol limit, it is a civil case.

As for the punishments, someone arrested due to DUI for the first time will be fined a maximum of $5000 with no imprisonment. At the same time, the offender will have to undergo a minimum of 30 hours of community service in addition as an alcohol awareness program. If caught again for the same violation, a higher fine with imprisonment is most likely the punishment.

however, DWI also known as Operating While Impaired or OWI is considered a greater offense. Like in DUI, the case can either be civil or criminal. A civil case implies that the offender is below the age of 21 and has tested above the legal limit of 0.10% or 0.8% BAC when placed under a breathalyzer or blood test. observe that the legal alcohol limit varies depending on the state where the offense took place. In Arizona, for example, 0.8% BAC is the limit. A civil case of DWI can nevertheless be charged albeit the person’s refusal to go by sobriety test. If proven guilty, the offender will be fined a maximum of $5000, suspension of the offender’s driver’s license and imprisonment for a time depending on the number of violations the person had.

A criminal case of DWI is the most complicate of all. This case involves someone above 21 years of age, has experienced sobriety test and found to have a BAC over the legal limit. Classified as a higher class of misdemeanor, someone proven guilty of a criminal case of DWI will be fined a minimum of $2000 plus imprisonment for at the minimum 3 days. Alcohol awareness training may also be required.




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