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When examining how states handle driving while intoxicated by alcohol or other substances, it can be helpful to understand the differences between DUI vs. DWI. DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated” or occasionally “driving while impaired.” What is “DUI” stands for, its abbreviation is “driving under the influence.”

Alcohol and other substances (including those used recreationally and those prescribed by a doctor) that affect your driving ability are considered DWI and DUI. Both significantly impact a person’s life, neither of which is worse than the other.

State DWI and DUI Laws

 Depending on state law, the Difference between DUI and DWI phrases refers to driving while intoxicated or impaired. Driving while intoxicated is referred to as a DUI in some places and a DWI in others.

The problem arises when states employ both words. Most frequently, one phrase will be used to describe alcohol, while another is used to describe impairment caused by substances other than alcohol (such as prescription or illicit medications). But depending on the state, the connotation can change.

What is DWI? Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is used in several states to describe this behavior. In such states, if a driver is accused of driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, the accusation is called a DUI.

Other states use the term DWI to describe driving while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or an unidentified substance. DUI is the term they use to describe driving while intoxicated. It’s best to double-check the state’s definitions. 

The Difference between DUI and DWI 

Driving under the influence (DUI) meaning can refer to driving when intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. The medications may be over-the-counter, prescribed, or illicit. However, DWI meaning can also refer to driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Your state will choose the specific definitions.

Regardless matter the name, a DUI vs. DWI charge is brought when a police officer believes you were too intoxicated to drive. Drugs, alcohol, tiredness, or other circumstances may bring on the impairment.

Depending on your state, you can be charged with driving while ability impaired (DWAI), driving while intoxicated (OWI), or operating under the influence (OUI).

Your state may have laws against driving while intoxicated that require a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08%, except Utah, where the BAC limit is 0.05%. While drunk driving is typically considered a misdemeanor, repeat offenders may be charged with a felony.

Additionally, if your BAC is at least 0.15%, many states may increase penalties. A breath, blood, or urine test is typically used to determine BAC.

Remember that in many states, even if your automobile is stationary and you are in the driver’s seat, you may still be charged with drunk driving. In some circumstances, you could even be charged with DUI, DWI, or a comparable offense if you’re operating a watercraft, moped, motorized scooter, bicycle, or lawnmower. 

Drunk and Drugged Driving Laws 

Think about legal terminologies in New York to get an idea of how complex state DUI laws are. These consist of the following:


  • A BAC of at least 0.08% is usually required for driving while intoxicated (DWI). In New York, the level is 0.04% for commercial drivers.
  •  A BAC of at least 0.18% is required for aggravated driving while intoxicated (DWI). 
  •  A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than 0.05% but less than 0.07% constitutes driving while ability-impaired by alcohol (DWAI/alcohol). 
  • Drunk driving when the ability is impaired by a single drug (DWAI/drug). 
  • Driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs (DWAI/combination). 
  • If a driver in New York is accused of operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) between 0.02% and 0.07%, they may be punished under the state’s zero-tolerance policy.


New York law imposes jail time, fines, and license suspension for driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. In most cases, losing your driver’s license results in the cancellation of your auto insurance.

The laws of New York are just one example. State-specific regulations and punishments apply to drink and drugged driving. For instance, in Wisconsin, a first-time DUI conviction might result in a nine-month license suspension, while in Georgia and Tennessee, it could result in a one-year ban. If you hire an experienced attorney from McCord law firm you will get the best DUI services.  

Consequences of a DWI Arrest

You will face harsh repercussions if you are stopped for driving while intoxicated, regardless of what the law in your area calls the offense. Fees, license suspension, and treatment under a court order are possible penalties.

Fees and Penalties

You must pay fines and court costs if you are found guilty of a DWI or DUI. Depending on your jurisdiction, these costs change. Other possible legal repercussions include community service, probation, and jail time.

License suspension or revocation

You will undoubtedly lose your driver’s license if you are found guilty or enter a guilty plea. You’ll probably need defensive driving lessons to regain your driving privileges.

Treatment for alcohol or drugs

You will also be evaluated for your drinking or drug usage habits in most states. You might be required to participate in a drug or alcohol treatment program, depending on the findings of that evaluation. This program could involve anything from enrolling in a residential treatment center to attending a few meetings of a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous.

Higher Insurance Prices

You’ll most certainly require SR-22 insurance once you get your driver’s license back. Depending on the regulations in your state, this might cause your premiums to increase or treble. For three years, on average, you can anticipate paying higher rates. 

Interlocking Ignition Device

You might also need to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car, depending on the state where you live. With this system, you cannot start your automobile until you have successfully used a breathalyzer to confirm that you have not consumed alcohol. It would help if you covered the gadget’s cost, installation, and monthly monitoring fee.

Prison Time

You might serve time in jail if this is your second infraction. Additionally, you’ll probably get put on probation and have to do community service.

Penalties – Jail time, Fine, and Licenses Suspension

The severity of the consequences for driving while intoxicated will depend on the type of DWI and any prior DWI convictions you may have. It should be noted that certain “look-back” times apply to DWI offenses, determining the time frames within which convictions must have happened to be considered prior convictions. In New York, the look-back periods might be between 4 and 25 years, depending on the specifics of the offense.

Different DWI classifications will carry a variety of penalties. First-time DWI, drug-DWAI, and combined-DWAI offenses are treated as misdemeanors; subsequent convictions within 10 years are charged as felonies. Drivers who are found guilty may receive the following sentences:


  • First offense: up to a year in prison, $500 to $1,000 in penalties, and a six-month license suspension 
  • Second offense: 1-4 years in prison (with a 5-day minimum if guilty within the previous 5 years), $1,000–$5,000 in penalties, and a 1-year license suspension (if convicted within the previous 10 years). 
  • If you are convicted of a third offense, you could face up to ten years in prison, a fine of $2,000 to $10,000, and a permanent license suspension (if you were previously convicted within four years).

Alcohol-DWI offenses are classified as infractions for the first and second convictions (within a 5-year look-back period), whereas misdemeanors are prosecuted for the third and subsequent offenses (within 10 years). The following are the penalties for drinking and driving: 

  • First offense: 90 days of license suspension, $300–500 in fines, and up to 15 days in jail. 
  • Second offense: up to 30 days in prison, $500–$750 in fines, and a six-month license suspension 
  • Third offense: up to 180 days in prison; fines of $750-$1,500; and a six-month license suspension

Will DUIs and DWIs impact insurance rates? 

Yes, but to what extent will depend on your carrier and other rating considerations. Your insurance provider assesses several factors, such as your driving history and, in some states, your age, gender, and credit score, to determine the likelihood that you will be in an accident overall. Since driving while intoxicated is dangerous behavior, your insurance provider will increase your rate to reflect the greater possibility that they will have to pay out a claim on your behalf.

In addition, if you’re found guilty of a DUI or DWI, your insurance provider can classify you as a high-risk driver. In this situation, you can opt not to renew your policy, forcing you to seek insurance elsewhere. Finding insurance after a DUI may need some research, and high-risk insurance is frequently significantly more expensive than coverage for drivers with a lower risk.

After a DUI or DWI, your license could be suspended, and your state might demand that you carry an SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility to get it reinstated. Your insurance provider submits an SR-22 form to the DMV to prove you still carry insurance. Although an SR-22 shouldn’t significantly influence your rate, there is normally a small registration cost (often between $25 and $50). Aside from the SR-22, several states also mandate you to carry higher liability limits, which would raise your premium at least twice as high as the minimums set by the state. The document you need to file is an FR-44 in Florida and Virginia. 


By never operating a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol, you can safeguard your well-being and the well-being of others. Even if your blood alcohol level is below the legal limit, you will still be affected.

It’s recommended to avoid driving if you’re using any drugs, whether they’re legal or not. While not all prescription drugs make driving harder, it is still a good idea to be aware of any potential effects on focus, attention, or drowsiness. The statutes were put in place to prevent potentially harmful circumstances that would be even worse than a DUI or DWI conviction.



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