DUI and DWI: Legal Differences and Consequences

Article from Jun 3, 2024


Understanding the legal differences between DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) is crucial for anyone facing these charges. Both offenses carry serious consequences, but their definitions and penalties can vary.

Legal Differences Between DUI and DWI

DUI and DWI are often used interchangeably, but they can have distinct legal meanings depending on the jurisdiction. DUI typically refers to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while DWI usually denotes driving while intoxicated by alcohol. Some states use one term exclusively, while others differentiate between the two based on blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels or the substances involved.

Examples of DUI and DWI

  • DUI: A driver is stopped and found to be under the influence of marijuana or prescription medication impairing their ability to drive.
  • DWI: A driver is pulled over with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, exceeding the legal limit for alcohol consumption.

Consequences of DUI and DWI Charges

The consequences of DUI and DWI charges are severe and can include fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, and even jail time. Repeat offenders or those involved in accidents causing injury or death face harsher penalties. Additionally, a conviction can lead to increased insurance rates and long-term impacts on employment and personal life.

Specific Penalties

  • First Offense: May result in fines, community service, mandatory DUI/DWI classes, and license suspension.
  • Repeat Offenses: Increased fines, longer license suspension, mandatory ignition interlock devices, and potential jail time.
  • Accidents Causing Injury or Death: Felony charges, significant prison sentences, and substantial fines.

How to Handle DUI and DWI Charges

If you are facing DUI or DWI charges, it is essential to seek legal representation immediately. An experienced attorney can help challenge the evidence, negotiate plea deals, and represent you in court. Potential defenses may include challenging the accuracy of BAC tests, questioning the legality of the traffic stop, or demonstrating that you were not impaired at the time of driving.

Common Defenses

  • Challenging BAC Test Accuracy: Questioning the calibration and maintenance of breathalyzer devices.
  • Illegal Traffic Stop: Arguing that the officer did not have probable cause to make the traffic stop.
  • Lack of Impairment: Demonstrating that the driver was not impaired at the time of the stop.

DUI and DWI charges carry significant legal and personal consequences. Understanding the differences between the two, the associated penalties, and the importance of legal representation can help individuals navigate these challenging situations more effectively.


What is the difference between DUI and DWI?
DUI typically refers to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while DWI denotes driving while intoxicated by alcohol.
What are the penalties for DUI and DWI?
Penalties can include fines, license suspension, mandatory education programs, and jail time, with harsher penalties for repeat offenders or those causing injury or death.
How long will a DUI or DWI stay on my record?
This varies by state, but DUI/DWI convictions can remain on your driving record for several years and on your criminal record indefinitely.
What should I do immediately after being charged with a DUI or DWI?
Seek legal representation immediately, avoid making any statements to law enforcement without your attorney, and follow all legal advice.
What is an ignition interlock device?
An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer for your vehicle that requires you to blow into it before starting the car, often mandated for repeat offenders.

About ANTN Law

ANTN Law specializes in criminal defense, personal injury, and post-conviction relief. Our experienced attorneys provide comprehensive legal support to those facing DUI or DWI charges. For more information or to schedule a consultation, visit our contact form.