DUI vs. DWI: What to Know About Their Legal Difference

DUI vs. DWI: What to Know About Their Legal Difference

Hitting the road is a serious matter. One must be a responsible driver by avoiding committing traffic violations at all costs. The last thing you want to happen is to get caught and held legally liable. The worst is you might get into a road accident and end up causing injuries and costing lives.

But did you know that most drivers usually get arrested for DUI or DWI? In fact, the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claimed that more than 1.6 million individuals get caught for DUI or DWI each year. Unfortunately, drunk-driving road accidents kill about 28 people in the US every day.

The facts and figures discussed above are alarming. For these reasons, every driver must understand the implications of DUI and DWI in promoting road safety and protecting lives. DUI stands for driving under the influence, while DWI means driving while intoxicated or impaired.

Let’s take a look at the difference between the two. Learn more about the consequences and know what it takes to avoid them.

Legal Classifications of Traffic Violations

Before delving into the difference between DUI and DWI, let’s first discuss different traffic violations. Understand that these violations can get categorized into the following:

  • Infractions: They are non-serious traffic violations, where the offenders get issued tickets and penalized with fines or fees. These include speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, running under a red light, and driving with a defective car.
  • Misdemeanors: They are serious traffic violations considered crimes that might end up in jail time. These include DUI or DWI, driving without a license, driving without insurance, and reckless driving.
  • Felonies: They are the most serious traffic violations involving forms of violence, where the penalties can lead to one year in prison up to death.


DUI and DWI are traffic violations that fall under the misdemeanor legal category. Unfortunately, these terminologies tend to get used interchangeably. Sure, both can mean the same as defined in some states. However, their meanings can be different in most states. It all boils down to what their acronyms stand for. Take note of the following:

  • DUI: It stands for driving under the influence. It means that you can be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These drugs can even cover over-the-counter and prescription medications, not only illegal drugs.
  • DWI: It stands for driving while intoxicated or impaired. It can mean that you’re drunk-driving brought about by alcohol or hitting the road with impairment caused by alcohol, drugs, and even sleepiness.

Key Terms

As a responsible driver, you must be well-acquainted with the terminologies revolving around DUI and DWI. That way, you know what to expect and how to deal with your traffic violation. Take note of the following:

  • Duty to Submit: You must agree to get a chemical test when arrested. Failure to do so can result in your driver’s license suspension.
  • Blood-alcohol Concentration (BAC): As the name suggests, this refers to the alcohol concentration in your bloodstream. In most states, the BAC level must not exceed 0.08 percent.
  • Drug Recognition Experts: They are police officers trained to test DUI or DWI suspects and determine any violation.
  • DUI Checkpoints: These are roadblocks set up by the police. They get typically seen along busy roadways or during special occasions like New Year’s Eve.

The Consequences of DUI


It’s important to avoid committing DUI or DWI offenses. If not, you’ll face the following consequences:

  • Legal Expenses: You’ll most likely pay a premium for bail and some fees for attorneys. Know that the bail is usually ten percent of your bond amount.
  • Increased Insurance: There’s a higher chance of your insurance premium going up once you get your driver’s license back.
  • Towing Fees: When arrested by police, you’ll get taken to jail, and your car needs to get towed. Expect to pay for the towing fees, which can be more than $100.00

As a responsible driver, you must ensure that you are sober when driving. That’s the reason you got the proper driving orientation and had to pass the driver’s drug and alcohol test before earning your driver’s license. The goal is to ensure you’re physically and mentally stable and capable when hitting the road. Hence, be sure to avoid DUI or DWI at all times.

Final Words

At this point, you now have a robust understanding of the difference between DUI and DWI. Be sure to consider the valuable information discussed above, particularly the traffic violations and their legal consequences. Most importantly, make sure to avoid DUI and DWI at all costs when hitting the road. In the end, road safety will always be a top priority. Hence, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

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