What is the differnece between a DUI and DWI? 42 Answers as of July 10, 2013

I was pulled over and arrested last night because I was driving after a few drinks. I am not certain if I got a DUI or DWI, but I remember the officer kept on talking about both. What is the difference and which is easier to fight in court?

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Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
In general, there is no difference between a DUI and DWI. In Michigan, the terms are OWI (operating while intoxicated) and OWI (operating while impaired). Other states may have a different distinction in terms.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 7/1/2011
Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
Nothing. Just a different slang for the same crime. Of course you can fight it. When arrested or charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can any evidence obtained in a search or confession be used against you, and can you be convicted, and what can you do? Raise all possible defenses with whatever admissible and credible witnesses, evidence and facts are available for legal arguments, for evidence suppression or other motions, or at trial. If you don't know how to do these things effectively, then hire an attorney that does, who will try to get a dismissal, diversion, reduction or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate. If serious about hiring counsel to help you in this, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me. Ill be happy to help use whatever defenses there may be. Keep in mind a little free advice: When you are arrested for DUI, whether alcohol or drugs, then upon release from jail or booking you were given documents that included a notice that you have only ten days to file a request with DMV for a hearing on an appeal of an automatic one-year suspension of your license imposed by DMV. That is separate and runs consecutively with any suspension that may be imposed by the court. Contact DMV and do so, timely, then appear at your scheduled DMV appeal hearing and present any supporting evidence and testimony. If you don't know how to do these things, then hire an attorney that does. 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: 7/1/2011
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
The answer depends on where you are located. Speaking generally, in most states, the two terms are used to distinguish between charges based on the driver's alleged blood alcohol level. Generally, if a person had their driving "impaired" or possibly "under the influence" of alcohol, it would mean their alleged blood alcohol was lower than the "legal limit" and the maximum possible penalties would be less severe than driving a car while "intoxicated," or having a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. The bottom line though is that it depends on your particular state. I would recommend that retain a local criminal defense attorney to provide you with specific legal advice for your particular circumstances. Most attorneys provide free initial consultations.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 7/1/2011
Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
In Nebraska they are the same thing.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 6/30/2011
Law Offices of John Carney
Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
A DWI is a crime and a class A misdemeanor that can result in a year in jail. A Driving While Impaired is a violation and can result in no more than 15 days in jail. If your BAC was under .16 you have a good chance of getting a violation. If it was over .17 it is at least two times the legal limit of .08 and you may get convicted of the crime of DWI and have your license revoked for 6 months. Either way prepare to pay a lot more for car insurance and employers will not want to hire you as much as if you had a clean record.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/30/2011
    Harris Law Firm
    Harris Law Firm | Jennifer C. Robins
    In Oregon, we don't differentiate between DUI and DWI. Oregon uses DUII (driving under the influence of intoxicants). Driving under the influence means that, while you may not be "drunk" or "high" as those terms are commonly referred to, you may be influenced by a substance enough that it impairs your ability to operate a motor vehicle. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) forces the government to actually prove that one is intoxicated (either drunk or high). This is a more difficult thing to prove in court. Most states are moving away from the DWI charge and toward a DUI charge. If you are unsure what you are being charged with, contact the court or have your attorney contact the prosecutor.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Offices of Christopher Jackson
    Law Offices of Christopher Jackson | Christopher L. Jackson
    There really is no difference. Different states use different terminology. DUI = Driving Under the Influence DWI = Driving While Intoxicated.
    Answer Applies to: Kentucky
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    "DWI" and "DUI" are used interchangeably. Officially, the crime is "DUII" or Driving Under The Influence Of An Intoxicant. The number of drinks you consumed can vary significantly in terms of Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC). Your actual BAC would depend on your gender, weight, how much food was in your stomach when you drank and liver condition. Generally, people who abuse alcohol have livers that process alcohol more efficiently. As for the ultimate question, "Can you beat the charge?" that would depend on the overall evidence and whether you have any technical defenses. To answer that question, I would have to read over the police report, meet with you and get your side of the story and look at the breath test records to determine whether your BAC test is valid. My best advice is to talk to a lawyer who is experienced in defending DUI charges. Depending on your location I may be able to help you or I may know of someone to refer you to. Please give me a call when you get a chance and we can discuss this difficult situation in more detail.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Giannini Law Office, PC
    Giannini Law Office, PC | Robert Giannini
    The answer to your case depends on what state you were arrested in. For example, my state of Georgia refers to all such driving while impaired cases as DUI (driving under the influence). Other states call it DWI (driving while impaired). Either way, you need to at least consult with a DUI/DWI defense attorney in your state.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    They are the same charges, it is just a different acronym. DWI = drive while impaired. DUI = drive under influence. NH has two different types of charges that are both DWI or DUI 1. per se if a test is greater than .08 charge and 2.a statutory charge which is impaired to any degree. The best way to beat a charge is to get the best lawyer possible. Find out when they last tried a case and won. See if they have a plan for winning. Get reviews from other lawyers, cops, clients and people that may have seen the lawyers in court.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    There is no difference - they are merely informal acronyms. You need an attorney and we can represent you because we specialize in automobile crimes. Give is a call toll free for a no cost, no obligation phone consultation.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    What you're really talking about is a Driving While Intoxicated DWI which is an unclassified Misdemeanor and a crime versus a Driving While Impaired DWAI which is a Violation. The DWAI is a much easier case to handle because it starts off as a non-criminal offense. Either way, it's better to hire an attorney to represent you on these matters because they can have a big impact upon your drivers license. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    The charge is the same. Some states call it DUI and others use the term DWI, but it is the same charge.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    In New York we have DWI. In some other states they call it DUI. The words can be used interchangeably. There is a lesser offense called Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), which sometimes people refer to incorrectly as DUI.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    The terms are generally used interchangeably to refer to the crime of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Some states tend to favor the use of one term over another but there are no significant legal differences. If you are seeking legal representation in a DUI or DWI case in Louisiana, we invite you to contact our firm at the information on this page for a free case evaluation.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    The Chastaine Law Office
    The Chastaine Law Office | Michael Chastaine
    They are the same. Driving under the influence.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Subin
    Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
    No difference. Two terms for the same thing.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Michael Moody
    Law Office of Michael Moody | Michael Moody
    There is no difference between Driving Under the Influence and Driving While Under the Influence. Different states just use different terms.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    Some states differentiate between a DUI and DWI, where DUI charges are considered the lesser charge. In these states, a DUI usually signifies a lesser degree of intoxication, which is determined by a persons blood alcohol level at the time of arrest. Sometimes, states will allow the charges of a DWI to be reduced to a DUI with the help of a drunk driving defense attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Flores & Lopez Law Firm
    Flores & Lopez Law Firm | Joe Lopez
    DUI involves minors. DWI is a class B misdemeanor or higher.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    The terms DWI and DUI are synonymous. If you are charged with this offense, you should consult legal counsel immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Did you take a breathalyzer and what was the result?
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/10/2013
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    There is no difference.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Pontrello Law
    Pontrello Law | William Pontrello
    They are the same. fighting in complicated get a DUI/DWI lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    They are the same, and in fact not legally used in Michigan at all! We have OWI.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    The terms DUI and DWI, as well as OUI are all acronyms, used interchangeably, and refer to the same crime, which is Drunk Driving. OUI stands for Operating Under the Influence, DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated and DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. Regardless of which acronym was used, drunk driving is a serious charge that effects one of the privileges that we rely on every day of our lives, our driver's license. Although the court can make a 1st offense sentence sound enticing, you should definitely consult with and hire a lawyer like myself, who specializes in OUI/DWI/DUI cases, to represent you. Most people believe that this will never happen again, but the reality is that it could and often does. A few drinks with dinner followed by a drive home with a tail light out or even an unavoidable accident could put you in the same spot once again. A 2nd offense OUI/DWI/DUI is extremely serious and calls for incarceration. At a minimum, you will lose your license for 2 years and must be in either a jail or in-patient treatment facility for no less than 2 weeks and up to 2.5 years. Therefore, accepting a plea for a 1st offense should be your very last resort only after exploring all other avenues.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    DWAI is a less serious offense than DUI. An alcohol level between .05 + .08 is considered DWAI, over .08 is considered DUI.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Healan Law Offices
    Healan Law Offices | William D. Healan, III
    Some states call it DUI, some call it DWI, some states have different levels of the offense that might go by other names.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Douglas Holbrook Criminal Defense Attorney
    Douglas Holbrook Criminal Defense Attorney | Douglas Holbrook
    There is essentially no difference. Various states use different terminology for the same offense. DUI is driving under the influence. DWI is driving while intoxicated. The elements are the same and therefore either is equally difficult to fight. Hope that helps.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Mercado & Hartung
    Mercado & Hartung | Stephanie Hartung
    It is the same thing.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    No difference. Some people say Coke, some people say Coca-Cola. It's one and the same.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    None. DUII stands for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants. DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. Different states use slightly different terms sometimes, but those two mean the same thing.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo | Matthew Murillo
    They're essentially the same thing. DUI is Driving Under the Influence. DWI is Driving While Intoxicated. Most people use interchangeably. Neither is easy to fight, especially if your not a lawyer. Do yourself a favor, hire an attorney. DUI's can have very severe consequences.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Impaired driving is a lesser included charge of drunk driving. They both need an attorney to fight them.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Thomas A. Medford, Jr., PC
    Law Office of Thomas A. Medford, Jr., PC | Thomas A. Medford, Jr.
    Generally the difference is the level of proof require for a conviction they both have about the same level difficulty to fight in court.
    Answer Applies to: District of Columbia
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    A DUI is driving under the influence - of drugs and / or alcohol. A DWI is driving while intoxicated by drugs and / or alcohol. In Texas, we have a zero tolerance of minors (under 21) driving with ANY alcohol in their system whatsoever. If they do but they are under the legal limit (.08) or the officer is not saying they are intoxicated - just under the influence - then they get a DUI. Adults - 21 and older - can only get DWIs. There is no violation to be driving with alcohol / drugs in your system as long as you are not intoxicated. Most people use these terms interchangeably and in some states they mean the same thing.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law | Michael R. Nack
    You need to hire an attorney no matter which offense you were charged with violating. Sometimes the arresting officer will cite you for violating a municipal ordinance, sometimes a county ordinance, sometimes a state statute and in rare cases sometimes a federal law. Your attorney will be able to explain the charge you are facing to you and advise you on how best to handle it. If this happened in Missouri, and you are in the geographical area where I routinely practice I might be able to offer my services to you for a reasonable fee. Beware of those attorneys who will be sending you letters and post cards soliciting your business. It used to be unethical and in my opinion should still be unethical.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
    Driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated are comparable terms. In California, we call a VC 23152 a DUI. In other states it's called a DWI.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    In California, there is no DWI (driving while intoxicated.) DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. Different states call the same offense different names. Make sure you get a good attorney - DUIs can affect your life for years if not handled correctly.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Michigan, for example does not have DUI or DWI. Michigan has OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) and OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired). With OWI, you have to prove that the person driving had a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 or above while there is no threshold for OWVI. For that reason, OWVI is probably a little more difficult to beat. Some states call their drunk driving laws DUI while others call it DWI or even OUIL. Each state is different. DUI and DWI are commonly used (even by police and lawyers) as a "catch all" phrase to cover drunk driving charges. You will need to look up specifically what you are charged with in your state and see what the prosecutor has to prove. Seek out an experienced DUI attorney who will more than pay for himself.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    The Law Firm of David Jolly
    The Law Firm of David Jolly | David Jolly
    There is no difference between DUI and DWI. It really depends on the State the charge is in. DUI stands for "driving under the influence" while DWI stands for "driving while impaired (intoxicated)."
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/29/2011
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