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DUI vs. DWI: What's the Difference?

the difference between DUI vs. DWI

Every day, drunk drivers get behind the wheel of a car approximately 300,000 times. Add to that number the amount of non-sober people that drive under the influence of illegal and prescription drugs and you start to understand how prolific the issue of driving under the influence has become in our society.

Of those drivers that get behind the wheel impaired, some are arrested on DUI or DWI charges.

What is the difference between those two terms?

The answer is relatively straightforward. Here's a brief description of everything you need to know about DUI vs. DWI below.

What is a DUI?

DUI stands for "driving under the influence." It can be either a felony or misdemeanor charge in the United States and is given to those who operate a motor vehicle while impaired on drugs or alcohol.

What is a DWI?

DWI stands for "driving while intoxicated" or "driving while impaired" in some states. This charge is given to people for the same reasons they would receive a DUI. Applications can differ slightly depending on the state levying charges as we will outline below.

DUI vs. DWI - What's the Big Difference?

Based on the above descriptions of both DU's and DW's, you can see that both terms are relatively close in meaning. What is the big difference?

The term DWI came along to help broaden definitions legally in some areas for drivers who were impaired by non-alcohol substances. For example, in some areas, if you were to be pulled over for driving under the influence of alcohol, you would be awarded a DUI. If you got pulled over for driving under the influence of marijuana, you would receive a DWI.

Where this gets confusing is that other jurisdictions do the exact opposite. They cite drunk drivers with a DWI and drivers under the influence of other substances with a DUI.

The Bottom Line

While there are many terms to describe the act of getting behind the wheel while impaired, outcomes are very similar. Whether you are charged with a DWI or DUI, you are being accused of getting behind the wheel of a car in a condition that puts you and others at serious risk.

For that reason, DWI and DUI charges carry serious consequences in every state, including jail time, fees, license suspension, and mandatory classes.

Remember, it is illegal to drive with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 percent of more. Aside from alcohol, other factors contribute to impaired driving, including fatigue, medications or even some food, affecting your ability to legally, and safely, operate a motor vehicle. Even a single alcoholic drink can affect your ability to drive.

Wrapping Up DUI vs. DWI

While DUI vs. DWI are abbreviations that stand for different things, it is vital to recognize that one is not worse than the other and that both can have an enormous effect on your life.

Have you been ordered to take DUI classes as a result of a driving violation? North Metro Online Education has solutions for you. Our team of qualified professionals conducts online DUI classes. We also offer a host of drug and alcohol-related services to help you avoid getting into trouble with intoxicated driving again.

Learn more about the services we have to offer and enroll today.

NM Online Educationis a premier defensive driving, DUI school, and alcohol and drug evaluation counseling center. We provide a wide variety of online classes to satisfy your court or DMV requirements. Offering classes in ALL 50 states, we're a leader in U.S. distance learning programs. 

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