This Is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI

3 min


Are you looking to learn about the difference between a DUI and a DWI? Well, you’re in luck, cause this blog is about that.

In premise, a DUI is used to describe illegal actions of entities under 21 years of age who have had alcohol but are not intoxicated. The DWI has the same legal clauses, except if the individual has an alcohol level of 0.08% or more, then the DWI applies.

Nonetheless, some other exceptions do apply for both, so it’s best that you read this article fully. We will cover the differences, among other things.

So if you want to get your DUI vs DWI knowledge on, keep reading.

The Difference Between A DUI And A DWI

As mentioned earlier, the difference between a DUI and A DWI is quite minimal from afar, but that’s not really the case.

DUI, also known as driving under the influence describes an illegal activity in which an individual below 21 years of age was driving with alcohol present in their body (but not intoxicated).

Some states follow a zero-tolerance policy in regards to underage drinking, thus the terminology for each state will differ.

A DWI is charged to an entity if they are “intoxicated” and/or have an alcohol level that exceeds 0.08%. Besides being charged with the DWI, you will face harsher penalties and fees.

DUI Penalties

For both DUIs and DWIs, the penalties will vary state-by-state. Nonetheless, in the case of a DUI, this is a rough example of the potential penalties that one might incur.

  1. A fine not exceeding $500, unless prior convictions exist
  2. Potentially suspended license
  3. Mandatory enforcement of participation in drug/alcohol programs
  4. As well as 20-40 hours of local community service

Once again, keep in mind that some of these penalties might not exist in other states, or on the other hand be more severe than listed here.

DWI Penalties

In the case of a DWI, there is a minimum of 72 hours spent in jail or more. Varies based on case severity. A fine up to $2000, higher fines if the charges are more severe.

Additional fees will be charged annually. A suspended license is a guarantee. Mandatory enforcement of participation in drug/alcohol programs.

Exceptions do exist, they will vary based on the severity of the case, as well as your level of participation and collaboration with the judicial system and its representatives. If you follow along and show that you have remorse, then the penalties will be diminished.

State-to-State Variances

As mentioned earlier, no matter the state law, both terms described impaired driving. Some laws refer to the offense like a DUI, whereas another state might call it a DWI.

It can get confusing when both terms are being used. For instance, one can refer to alcohol consumption, and another to substances that are other than alcohol.

Some states make use of the DWI to reference driving with a BAC over legal limits. In the same states, a DUI is used when charging an individual with driving under influence of “any substance”.

With this being said, it’s best to learn about the local definitions of your state and to consult with a legal professional who will be able to explain everything in detail.

Arrest and Consequence

No matter what the offense is, if you are arrested and charged, serious consequences are to be expected. If you plead guilty, you will most likely lose your license, pay court fees and fines.

For subsequent offenses, you will spend time in jail. Not to mention, you will be required to participate in community service, as well as serve on probation.

To get the license back, you will be asked to attend defensive driving courses. In the majority of states, you will be examined for your substance and alcohol abuse patterns.

Based on the results of the examination, you might have to take part in a treatment program. This program can vary tremendously, starting with group meetings and ending with in-house treatment environments.

In some cases, your mugshot will become public, and that’s not something you want as a public figure. Learn how to get mugshot removed to avoid this issue.

After Conviction

When you receive your license once again, you will have to get SR-22 insurance. This will often increase your premiums by a very significant amount. In most cases, these prices will stick for several years.

Depending on the state of residence, you might also have to get an interlock device on your ignition inside of your vehicle. This will prevent you from driving your car until you have blown into the device that determines your alcohol level.

You will also have to pay for the installation, and monitoring fee associated with the device. In any case, if you get arrested, expect to waste lots of time and spends lots of money. It’s 100% avoidable, so keep that in mind.

Don’t go behind the wheel when drinking or consuming drugs. This includes prescription medication that might have had warnings or labels guiding you to avoid driving due to focus loss or drowsiness.

DUI/DWI Elaborated

Now that you have discovered the difference between a DUI and a DWI, you are well on your way to ensure that you have covered all of the bases. You might have gathered that in some states there is no difference, and in others, the difference is paramount.

In any case, without understanding your local law and regulations, the question of differences goes out the window.

If you’re interested in similar topics, feel free to read through our legal categories.

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