The difference between DWI and DUI terminologies, limitations, and laws of DWI and DUI vary among different states. But the accusations of DUI and DWI are generally concerned with the subject of driving while you are drunk. Likewise, it also applies to people who are impaired by medicines or prescriptions. There is no way to take accusations of DWI and DUI lightly because both of these charges have serious repercussions.

Still, there is no official definition of DUI or DWI in the United States of America. Few states do have the same ideology of DUI and DWI. Otherwise, the meaning of DWI/DUI and the manner of dealing with DUI/ DWI convictions differed among the states of the USA. Furthermore, over the previous few decades, laws have evolved substantially.

Sometimes a DUI and a DWI conviction may have similar consequences regarding your driver’s license, but their connotations aren’t certainly the same. There is a distinction between DUI and DWI in many circumstances.

Now questions arise here are:

  • What is a DUI?
  • What is a DWI?
  • DWI vs DUI: Difference between DWI and DUI

Let’s explore these questions in detail. Before we get into the difference between DWI and DUI, let’s first find out what does these two mean.

What Is A DWI?

What Is A DWI

The abbreviation of DWI refers to Driving While Intoxicated.

The most common reason for charging somebody with a DWI is that if the driver is exploited by anything besides alcohol. These chemicals can be both permissible or impermissible, such as prescribed chemicals or over-the-counter medicines.

Now that we are clear on the definition of DWI, we’re left with DUI. This will help us understand the terminology difference between DWI and DUI. Let’s find out what DUI is.

What Is A DUI?

What Is A DUI

The abbreviation of DUI refers to Driving Under the Influence.

DUI violations generally affect someone who is being physically “in control” of a vehicle while drunk. Even if an individual is not directly involved in the act of driving can be accused of a DUI conviction.

For instance, if someone is caught in the driver’s seat of a vehicle while drunk and also carrying the keys of a car. Although the vehicle is stopped, still he or she could be blamed for DUI.

Now that you know what is a DUI and what is a DWI, let’s look at the difference between DWI and DUI.


difference between dwi and dui

Both phrases, DWI vs DUI, are being used to represent drunk driving situations. In some states, intoxicated driving is referred to as a DUI. Whereas elsewhere, it is referred to as a DWI.

But things get complicated when states start using both DUI and DWI terms. The difference between DWI and DUI is mainly dependent on the type of drug a driver has consumed while driving a vehicle.

Most frequently, one phrase indicates intoxicant, whereas the other phrase relates the damage induced by drugs/medications apart from alcohol (such as pharmaceutical or stimulants); the meaning of both terms can be interchangeable among states.

The typical difference between DWI and DUI is, DUI refers to either driving while intoxicated or driving while you are influenced by drugs. On the contrary, DWI refers to the situation when an individual is driving while inebriated or impaired due to some medication or drugs.

But according to the law of a few states, the difference between DWI and DUI is stated as a DUI charge implies on individuals when they are driving a vehicle while under the strong influence of drugs. Whereas DWI implies whenever your BAC- Blood Alcohol Concentration is above the permissible level.

The BAC, which is the Blood Alcohol Concentration level is usually determined by conducting a breathalyzer test. The legal threshold is approximately 0.08 percent. However, certain states exist that are a bit lenient and set a higher limit. Moreover, standards for immature drivers are generally fixed at 0.02 percent. Also, some states such as Illinois and New York have imposed zero-tolerance standards.

In any situation, either driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) both are serious charges that can put the lives of drivers and others in jeopardy. This refers to alcohol and any other drugs (especially illicit substances as well as those prescribed by a doctor) that can affect your driving ability.

In this perspective, there is no significant difference between DWI and DUI; neither one accusation is preferable to the other, and both can leave a significant impact on your life.

What Are The Repercussions Of Getting Caught In The USA For Drunk Driving Incidents?

do you go to jail for dui

What happens if you get into a DUI/DWI drunk driving accident?

There is no difference between DUI and DWI convictions while impacting your insurance plans. Both can cause a drastic increase in prices at least for the upcoming three to ten years, right after the accusation. Rate hikes mean an individual has to pay extra expenses in their insurance annually. This increase in expenditures is generally caused as a result of DUI or DWI accusations.

If your DWI/ DUI is coupled with other offenses, particularly along with an accident, the situation could become much more complicated. It also raises the possibility of canceling your policy by the insurance alliances.

An individual should also be conscious that every insurance company will address a DWI/ DUI offense differently according to their policies, primarily their decision based on how long it has been since the violation occurred.

In so many situations, getting into a car accident and causing a major injury to the other person can be judged as a crime. Its repercussions also depend on the intensity of the damage caused and many other aspects.

This indicates the person who broke the law is most likely to be charged with fines; then the driver could also lose his driver’s license, and can be sentenced to imprisonment. However, in addition to the consequences for violating the statute, you could be found liable for the victim’s bodily injury or property damage. Victims of drunk driving incidents can seek justice and are frequently entitled to get compensation for their injuries.

The risk of endangering somebody’s life is amongst the saddest effects when you hit someone with your car while drunk driving. Any casualties that happen as a consequence of your incident by your vehicle while you were drinking can be classified as unlawful murder in legislation. This offense is brought whenever a person expires as a result of careless driving of a vehicle. As a consequence of these accidents, you can be accused of criminal homicide based on the facts.

Once you’ve been prosecuted with charges like vehicular manslaughter, DUI, or DWI, you should immediately contact a very experienced and competent attorney to justify your case.

To give you a better understanding of how driving while drunk laws (DUI vs. DWI) vary across different states in the USA. Have a look at the list we have prepared of different states with their diverse strategies to address DUI/DWI convictions.

Getting Convicted Of DUI In Different States

Getting Convicted Of DUI In Different States

Here you’ll understand the difference between DWI and DUI among different States.

What Happens If You Get Into A DUI/DWI Drunk Driving Accident In Arizona?

It is never simple to deal with the consequences of a DUI or DWI offense. Arizona is perhaps one of the most challenging states to navigate.

Although a DWI requires more evidence to show, such as a breathalyzer test, it is usually a more serious accusation rather than a DUI offense. One of the major drawbacks of this conviction is that it stays lifelong on your driving history.

Insurance companies are restricted to set a penalty to drivers only for a definite period, moreover, in the regulations of Arizona, any driver who rejects a breathalyzer test during “insinuated agreement” will have to suffer from a 12-month suspension of their driver’s license. It is compulsory.

What Happens If You Get A DUI/DWI Drunk Driving Accident In California?

When it comes to “informed consent,” California also has a six-month suspension of driver’s licenses for the driver who refuses to conduct a breathalyzer test. Furthermore, California is one of several states that have implied a zero-tolerance policy for children.

In California, the consequences of a DUI are long-lasting. Even if your insurance provider does not penalize you anymore for a DUI, still, you will not be eligible to avail of insurance reductions, at least for the next ten years.

What Happens If You Get A DUI/DWI Drunk Driving Accident In Georgia?

Georgia is not using the term DWI, but they do have a similar system to evaluate. A driver will be prosecuted for one of two tickets, either a “DUI per se” ticket or a “DUI-less-safe” ticket when convicted for a DUI drunk driving.

When a driver surpasses the allowable limits, they are accused of “DUI per se.”

On the other hand, a “DUI-less-safe” driver is one who was drunk to the level of impairment, either with or without alcohol. Plus, the overtaking and rough driving will eventually lead to getting a “DUI- less-safe” ticket.

What Happens If You Get A DUI/DWI Drunk Driving Accident In Minnesota?

To be charged with a DUI or DWI in Minnesota, you must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level that is higher than the lawful limit. There is no legal difference between DWI and DUI, and they can frequently be used interchangeably.

However, the courts do understand a discrepancy during “Complicated circumstances,” which will result in harsher sanctions. These circumstances can impact the “level” of conviction and there are four levels of DWI punishments in Minnesota.

Complicated circumstances are as follows:

  • If more than 15 % of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is present in an individual below the age of 16.
  • If the individual does have a recent DWI offense within the preceding ten years. That prior record does not necessarily have to occur in Minnesota.
  • You have no legal right to reject a breathalyzer test in the state of Minnesota. If you still refuse to, that test will head you towards getting a penalty.

What Happens If You Get A DUI/DWI Drunk Driving Accident In Michigan?

In Michigan, The acronyms OWI and OWVI are used instead of DWI or DUI respectively to accuse someone of driving under the influence.

The abbreviation of OWI is Operating While Under the Influence of either Drugs or Alcohol, and it is the most serious offense. A driver may be prosecuted with an OWI if his or her Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is higher than the prescribed maximum or if individuals tested positive for a prohibited substance. It often results in the revocation of a driver’s license for at least 180 days.

The abbreviation of OWVI is Operating While Visibly Impaired. The only need for an OWVI accusation is where the driver of the vehicle exhibited obvious indications of impairment (for example, failing a field sobriety test; in; even the case of OWVI a suspension of 90-day is compulsory.

What Happens If You Get A DUI/DWI Drunk Driving Accident In South Carolina?

There is no difference between DWI and DUI in South Carolina. On the other hand, drivers can be convicted with any one of these if they display symptoms of being inebriated while driving, even if their blood alcohol level is below the permissible level.

First-time convicts will have their license suspended for at least six months. Moreover, interim licenses will be provided with some limitations and only allow drivers to use them while driving exclusively to the job. Furthermore, these licenses will only be granted to the drivers whose BAC level is below 15% in the breathalyzer test.

What Happens If You Get A DUI/DWI Drunk Driving Accident In Texas?

In Texas, there is a significant difference between DWI and DUI charges and their penalties. Their policies, typically concerned with the drivers who are inebriated and below age 21.

Also, Texas is one of several states that have implied a zero-tolerance policy for children, meaning if any minor is even caught with a very small amount of alcohol will result in a DUI accusation.

A DWI can be accused to someone who is driving a vehicle while inebriated over the permissible level might be charged with a DWI. The term “operating” is defined quite widely by the courts. Texas is another state where implied consent exists. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, your license will be suspended for 90 days.

What Happens If You Get A DUI/DWI Drunk Driving Accident In Virginia?

There is no difference between DWI and DUI in Virginia when it comes to taking legal action. But they do have some important regulations regarding impaired driving.

A DUI can be issued to someone who is found intoxicated with alcohol and sits on the driver’s seat while the key is inserted in the ignition switch. However, the automobile engine is not running. Under certain conditions, drivers who will be accused of DUI/DWI may be eligible to apply for the reduction of their sentence.

Lastly, Virginia is one of the states that has the hardest implied consent, which says if someone refuses to take a breathalyzer test their license will be suspended for one year.

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