What is the difference between a DUI and a DWI? 56 Answers as of June 23, 2011

What is the difference between a DUI and a DWI?

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The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O.
The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O. | Eric R. Chandler
Nothing. Some states just phrase it differently. In fact in most states the actual violation is "Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated". People just refer to it as DUI or DWI.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 6/23/2011
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
For all intent and purposes, they are the same. Some states use the DUI for "drive while under the influence" while others use the DWI for "drive while intoxicated". The language of the various statutes are very closely worded to describe the same prohibited conduct.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 6/20/2011
Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman
Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman | Scott G. Hilderman
DUI stands for driving under the influence. DWI stands for driving while intoxicated. It is a difference without a distinction. Years ago the common name for the drinking offense was DWI today DUI is more common. For practical purposes it is like the difference between physician and doctor.
Answer Applies to: Montana
Replied: 6/20/2011
Bloom Legal, LLC
Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence while DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. Generally the terms are interchangeable but the prevalence of the use of one may vary from state to state. In Louisiana, the term DWI is generally used although the crime to which it refers is specifically called 'Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated' and the specific terms DWI or 'Driving While Intoxicated' are nowhere to be found in the state's criminal statutes.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 6/20/2011
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
The answer depends on your particular state. Generally speaking, DUI refers to Driving Under the Influence of an Intoxicating Substance while DWI means Driving While Intoxicated. Generally, those terms are used to describe a variety of alcohol related traffic offenses and you would ultimately need to review your particular state and the particular count, if you have been charged, to see the difference. You should contact a local criminal defense attorney in your particular state if you need advice for your particular circumstances. Speaking generally, most states have a version of a DUI, OWI, etc. charge, that may be brought against any driver who has any alcohol allegedly in their system if it impacted their ability to drive. The term "legal limit" is a bit of a misnomer. "Legal Limit," in most states, simply refers to minimum alleged blood alcohol level of a driver to be charged with a certain, specific type of DUI, OWI charge. Everyone's particular circumstances are different. State laws vary significantly from state to state. There may have been multiple tests with different possible results as well. However, ultimately, a person's alleged blood alcohol level is a question of fact for a jury or judge and the alleged test results should be closely scrutinized. An experienced criminal defense attorney should have the requisite expertise to potentially challenge those results and possibly suppress that evidence, depending on the factual circumstances. The consequences for a DUI, OWI, OUI conviction go far beyond any initial punishment by the court. In certain states, convictions for these types of offenses can stay on a person's record for years and they will subject to extensive license sanctions and higher costs.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/20/2011
    Law Office of Thomas A. Medford, Jr., PC
    Law Office of Thomas A. Medford, Jr., PC | Thomas A. Medford, Jr.
    Generally the difference between the two charges involve the level of intoxication of the driver and the penalty the government can impose on people convicted of these charges.
    Answer Applies to: District of Columbia
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    No difference.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    LynchLaw
    LynchLaw | Michael Thomas Lynch
    Really it refers to the same thing. A DUI is Driving Under the Influence. A DWI is Driving While Intoxicated. Different States refer to drunk driving differently. It depends upon which State you are in as to what the elements are for each crime.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    DWI is just a shortened abbreviation of DUI. "DWI" Means "driving while intoxicated." "DUI" means "driving under influence." Then there's DUII which means "driving under the influence of intoxicants. The most accurate abbreviation would be DWUII or driving while under the influence of intoxicants. They all mean the same thing though; mandatory jail time and license suspension if one is found guilty. In Washington State and other states there is another charge called "Physical Control." Physical Control is defined as "Being in actual physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated. Basically if you're in a vehicle on the road and stopped with the ignition key in the ignition or within your control, and intoxicated you can be guilty of Physical Control even if you are standing still. The only safe thing to do is pull safely off the road and take a cab or walk home. Even then, someone may see you driving erratically and call the cops. If the cops catch you and you are still intoxicated within two hours of driving, you can still be found guilty and drinking more when you arrive home is a bad idea in states that have the two hour rule.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    They are the same.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    Only the word is different. They're both the same as far as anyone can tell. It's just that some starts call it DUI, Driving Under the Influence, while other say DWI, Driving While Intoxicated. Both cover driving when the driver has more than .12 blood alcohol. Usually,if it is less than that amount, they call it a DWAI or Driving While Abiity Impaired. I've also seen OWI or OUI meaning Operating Under the Influence or Operating While Intoxicated used in some areas. Basically there are two charges, a DWI and a DWAI in New York state,the first is Intoxicated and represents a class "A" Misdemeanor, the second is Impaired and is a Violation and not a crime. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre | Jonathan T. Sarre
    I'll venture to say not too much. I don't know of any states that have separate laws that prohibit both Driving Under the Influence (DUI) (or DUII - Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), the reason being they are essentially the same thing. "Drunk Driving" is called DWI in some places and DUI in others, there's also the aforementioned DUII and OUI or OWI (Operating Under the Influence or Operating While Intoxicated). Maybe some state has both but that would seem to be rather confusing.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law | Jonathan S. Willett
    A DUI in Colorado is over .08, a DWAI is over .05. The penalties and drivers license consequences are smaller for a DWAI, also.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    None. Just different slang names. If you face charges, and if serious about hiring counsel to help you in this, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Lowenstein Law Office
    Lowenstein Law Office | Anthony Lowenstein
    They are really the same thing - different states use different terms. Although in California, it can refer to the 23152(A) and (B) count one for having a Blood Alcohol content > 0.08, and the other for being impaired to drive (regardless of your blood alcohol content). For more information, please see my website.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    The terms are synonymous under Minnesota law and refer to the same offense which is operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, or operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration in excess of .08.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    No difference between DUI and DWI anymore. Driving under the influence vs. Driving while ability impaired. DWI used to be a lesser offense.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    The Law Office of Rosanne Faul
    The Law Office of Rosanne Faul | Rosanne Faul
    No difference. It just depends what state you are in. DUI is "driving under the influence" while DWI is "driving while under the influence".
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    Generally the difference is a matter of degree in that DUI is a lesser charger since it means driving under the influence, while DWI is a higher charge since it means Driving while Intoxicated.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    There is no difference. Some states call it Driving Under the Influence (California), others call it Driving While Intoxicated.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller
    Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller | Thomas Mueller
    In California there is no difference.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    Nothing. Some states or eve counties call it different names. They both refer to driving while haven a blood alcohol limit of above the legal limit.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Harrison & Harrison
    Harrison & Harrison | Samuel Harrison
    No real difference. DUI is Driving Under the Influence; DWI is Driving While Intoxicated. Same act, different names.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Wallin & Klarich
    Wallin & Klarich | Sheldon E. Lee
    Its just a term of art as some states call it a dui and others call it dwi.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    Colorado has two levels of drunk driving - DUI (when you are incapable of safely operating your vehicle - and that is inferred if your alcohol level is over .08) and DWAI (when you are affected to the slightest degree by alcohol - and that is inferred if your alcohol level is over.05 but under .08).
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Pontrello Law
    Pontrello Law | William Pontrello
    Nothing, some states have different classifications.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Offices of Marshall Tauber
    Law Offices of Marshall Tauber | Marshall Tauber
    There is no difference. Different states use different terminology. Some use DUI for driving under the influence, while others use DWI for driving while intoxicated, still others like Michigan use OWI for operating while intoxicated and OWVI for operating while visibly impaired-which is a lesser included offense of OWI. DUI and DWI have become generic terms that universally apply to drunk or high driving.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    There is no difference. There are two types of DUI's, one for being at a .08 and above alcohol level and the other for being under the influence based on all the evidence usually the cop's testimony.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    For the most part, in some States the same offense is called either DWI or DUI. But it's the same thing. I some circumstance, DUI refers to a lesser offense that DWI where one is not drunk, just impaired. It all depends on the law of your State and the local custom and practice.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    There is essentially no difference between DUI and DWI. Driving Under the Influence . . Driving While Intoxicated. Most use the terms interchangeably. In Michigan we have OWI, Operating While Intoxicated, and OWI, Operating While Impaired. They are different offenses, but OWI can refer to either.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC | Raymond J. Savoy
    There is no legal difference. Dwi is driving while intoxicated and dui is driving under the influence.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    Generally, each state has its own criminal code and calls its crimes by its own names, for various historical reasons. So, what is called a burglary in one state may be called breaking and entering in another. Likewise, DWI exists in one state; DUI in another. Often, they are the same generic crime, but they have different names from state to state. But a DUI by any other name never smells very sweet! Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Healan Law Offices
    Healan Law Offices | William D. Healan, III
    Some states call it DUI, others call it DWI. The laws vary from state to state, but generally speaking, both mean drunk driving.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Collins Law Firm, P.A.
    Collins Law Firm, P.A. | John C. Collins
    A DUI is a zero tolerance law for people under 21 who drink and drive. If someone is under 21, in actual physical control of a vehicle, and has a blood alcohol level of .02-.07 they can be charged with DUI. DWI is for anyone charged with being in actual physical control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher or who is intoxicated by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    DUI is shorthand for driving under the influence, now known as operating under the influence (OWI). DWI is shorthand for operating while impaired. Operating while impaired is a lesser charge than OWI.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    There is no difference.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    Same thing. NY calls it DWI.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Van Ness Law Group
    Van Ness Law Group | Varinia Van Ness
    None in Florida. DUI=driving under the influence to extent normal faculties are impaired DWI=driving while impaired Different states call it different. The penalties may also be different. For the most part, just what the call the crime.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Nichols Law Firm
    Nichols Law Firm | Michael J. Nichols
    They are one and the same, just different ways of saying drunk driving.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    'DUI' is 'Driving Under the Influence'. 'DWI' is 'Driving While Intoxicated'. California's drinking and driving law uses the terminology"under the influence". There are also 'OWI': 'operating while impaired', and 'OVI':'operating a vehicle while under the influence'. The difference merely depends upon the jurisdiction (state) and the language the legislature used to draft the law. These days, you can be charged with a DUI while riding a bicycle, piloting a boat, of course, riding a skate board or riding a horse. It has become ridiculous. Greed and politics.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    No difference. They're simply different ways to refer to the same thing.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    In Michigan there really is no difference. Different states have different classifications for drunk driving offenses. Michigan, for example, has OWI, OUIL, and others. DUI and DWI are essentially the same thing
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    The main difference is the state that you receive it in. In CA, it is a DUI, in some other states, they refer to it as DWI.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    West law Office
    West law Office | Russell West
    There is no difference. Most states use DUI as reference to driving under the influence of drugs and or alcohol.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    DWI is driving while intoxicated while DUI is driving under the influence. In Texas, if one is under 21 and has any alcohol whatsoever in their system and then they drive, they are DUI. They do not have to be intoxicated. If they are 21 or older, then they must be actually intoxicated while driving a motor vehicle to be committing an offense.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    In some states a DWI, Driving While Intoxicated is called a DUI, Driving Under the Influence. Both are misdemeanors. There is also a Driving While Impaired violation where you are only impaired to some extent by alcohol while driving on a public driveway. In New York it is illegal to drive with more than .08 BAC, which means that there is that much alcohol in your blood, indicating that you are intoxicated to the extent that you cannot operate a vehicle as safe and prudent driver.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson | Michael E. Hendrickson
    DUI means Driving Under Influence and DWI Driving While Intoxicated, but the respective legal meanings depend upon the jurisdiction involved; in some they can mean the same thing, legally speaking, while in others there can be a difference.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    None really- Driving under the influence; Driving while impaired
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    They all mean the same thing. DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence, DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated and in MA the charge is OUI which stands for Operating Under the Influence. They are just three different ways people have of referring to the crime of Drunk Driving. There is no difference between them. If you want to learn more about the charge and how to avoid it, check out my web site.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    California Criminal Defense Center
    California Criminal Defense Center | Ardalon Fakhimi
    DUI refers to driving under the influence while DWI refers to driving while intoxicated. They are the same thing. Some states call it DWI while other call it DUI.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    The English Law Firm
    The English Law Firm | Robert English
    DUI is driving under the influence and DWI is sometimes called driving while impaired and sometimes driving while intoxicated. Generally, the difference is based on the jurisdiction. In California, the offense is called a DUI. Some other states refer to the offense as a DWI.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Wallin & Klarich
    Wallin & Klarich | Stephen D. Klarich
    Nothing. They mean same thing. Driving under influence or driving while intoxicated.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Frances R. Johnson
    Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
    In Colorado there isn't a charge of DWI (driving while intoxicated); there is a charge of DUI (driving under the influence). Different states may name the charge by a different name. Also, a person can be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and not necessarily be intoxicated.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/16/2011
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