There are Jurisdictions Where Both DUI & DWI are Classified Separately, So What is the Difference Between DUI & DWI?

By Jonathan Blecher on April 2, 2015

Although DUI and DWI are often used interchangeably, some states consider them quite different from each other. The states that do often have often unique penalties for each classification and drivers may suffer as a result. Florida is different in that it only refers to drunk driving crimes in one way – DUI. However, it can still be helpful to understand the difference between the two and how it may affect you in other states.

DUI vs. DWI Throughout the Country

DUI stands for driving under the influence and DWI stands for driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired. They sound similar enough and both refer to the same offense. However in some states, like Texas and Colorado, drivers can be charged with either a DWI or a DUI and face different penalties.

States that classify these offenses differently generally see a DUI charge as less serious than a DWI. A DUI charge may mean that the driver was under the influence of either drugs or alcohol and was impaired because of it. DWI would then refer only to drunk driving.

Texas charges minors with DUI and adults with DWI, causing DWI penalties to be more severe. In Colorado, the BAC limit for DUI is 0.08, while the BAC limit for DWAI (driving while ability is impaired) is 0.05. It all depends on the state you live in and the current legislature that exists there.

Most importantly, know the laws in your own state. Florida drivers can only be charged with DUI and this can happen anytime they are arrested with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher, or even with a refusal to submit to a breath test. In the case of a refusal the State would try to convict bases on “impairment” alone. For minors, anything at or above 0.02 is illegal, subjecting them to a license suspension, though not a DUI at that low level.

Penalties in Florida depend on the driver and the circumstances at hand, but they are generally quite harsh. For a first offense, drivers could be charged with up to nine months in jail, $2,000 in fines, and mandatory installation of an interlock ignition device. Never risk drinking and driving – if you think your judgment is impaired, get a ride home with a sober friend.

As a Miami DUI attorney, I have helped countless individuals get their lives back after being arrested for drunk driving. If you are facing charges, I would be honored to represent you and fight for your rights. Contact my firm today to obtain aggressive legal representation.

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