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DUI vs DWI: What's the Difference?

Mar 04, 2022

Are you confused about the difference between a DUI and a DWI? Check out this guide for everything you need to know about a DUI vs DWI.

29 people in the United States die every day in car accidents that involve a drunk driver. This means that every 50 minutes there is a death due to an alcohol-impaired driver.

In 2016, there were more than one million drivers arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is only a small percentage of the self-reported numbers of how many people have driven while impaired each year.

If you got arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you might be wondering what the difference is between a DUI vs DWI.

Let's take a look at everything you need to know.

What Is a DUI and What Is a DWI?

The terms "DUI" and "DWI" are often used interchangeably, but do they mean the same thing?

DUI stands for "driving under the influence." This is an offense that an individual commits when they operate a vehicle when their bloodstream has more than the legal limit of alcohol.

The legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit is 0.08% at the federal level. However, some states have different laws regarding BAC limits. For example, the legal BAC limit in Utah for people over the age of 21 was lowered from 0.08% to 0.05% in 2018.

The BAC limit can also be as low as 0.01% in some states depending on the age of the driver. DUIs can also be issued in some places without a breathalyzer test being done by the officer. A field sobriety test, the suspicion of the influence of alcohol, or erratic driving behavior can lead to a DUI charge in some cases.

What is a DWI?

DWI stands for "driving while impaired." The definition of this acronym in some states, though, stands for "driving while intoxicated." In this case, a DWI and a DUI is a synonymous charge.

In states that recognize a DWI and a DUI as two different charges, a DWI typically means that an individual was driving while under the influence of drugs. This can mean either recreational drugs or prescription drugs.

Even if a person is below the legal limit in terms of BAC, they can still be charged with a DWI or a DUI if they have failed a field sobriety test. Some states have zero-tolerance policies, and therefore where the offense occurs has a lot to do with the legal consequences incurred.

DUI vs DWI: Which Is Worse?

A DWI is typically a more serious charge in places that recognize a DWI and a DUI as separate charges. In some locations, a driver might be able to reduce their charge if it is their first alcohol or drug-related offense from a DWI to a DUI.

That being said, both charges are quite serious. Because of the potential danger that an intoxicated or otherwise inebriated driver could cause to other people, the consequences of either charge are not to be taken lightly.

Can You Eliminate a DUI?

It is almost always a crime to drive under the influence. If you end up getting convicted of this charge, it will most likely appear on your criminal record.

This can be problematic for several reasons. It can make it difficult to get certain professional licenses and jobs. On top of that, colleges and rental properties often ask about whether or not you've ever been convicted of a crime.

For this reason, many people who have been pulled over for drunk driving wonder if they can eliminate a DUI from their record. This is known as "expunging" your record.

The rules regarding expungement differ between states, though many of them do provide avenues through which you can clean up your record if you've received a criminal conviction. If you can get your DUI expunged, it means that you will be able to honestly state that you don't have a criminal record.

This usually involves applying for an expungement and appearing in court. A judge will then decide whether or not you will be granted expungement.

Though it is possible to clear your record of a DUI, it can take a long time and might not necessarily work out in your favor.

The best thing you can do is act immediately after your DUI to help save your license. Learn more about how you can get your license back here.

Florida DUI vs DWI

In Florida, you can get a DUI for driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. You may also hear this same offense referred to as a DWI, but that isn't the legal term. In Florida, DWI stands for driving while intoxicated rather than "driving while impaired."

As mentioned previously, though, DUIs and DWIs are seen as different offenses in some states that carry different penalties.

Do You Want to Say Goodbye to Your DUI?

Understanding the difference between a DUI vs DWI can help you learn what the potential consequences of these charges are in your state.

Getting a DUI can be a life-changing event and not a good kind. If you want to put a bad night behind you, there are things you can do to help save your license and make the whole process as painless as possible. Acting quickly after your arrest can make the whole event significantly easier and it can also help you end up with a more beneficial outcome.

Do you want someone else to just deal with your DUI for you? Dealing with the court after a DUI arrest can be a nightmare, and having representation can ensure that you get the best possible results from the process.

If you've been arrested for a DUI for the first time, you can learn more here about our DUI flat fee representation package.

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