Updated: Dec 16, 2019
Can the terms DUI and DWI be used interchangeably, or are there differences between the two? Get familiar with the basics of these serious offenses.
What do these terms mean?
DUI stands for "driving under the influence" and DWI can stand for either "driving while intoxicated" or "driving while impaired." You may have also heard of "OUI" (operating under the influence) or "OWI" (operating while intoxicated) -- some states use these acronyms, as well.
What do they have in common?
No matter what it's labeled, drinking and driving can negatively impact your life by possibly leading to license suspension, fines and jail time. This behavior also puts your life and the lives of others at risk.
Every state currently defines driving with a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.08 percent as a crime. In most cases, the state will suspend a person's driver’s license after a first offense. Remember that a DUI or DWI can apply to being under the influence of alcohol as well as prescription, recreational or illegal drugs.
What’s the difference between them?
If a state uses both terms, one is often used to describe driving under the influence of alcohol and the other will refer to driving under the influence of other drugs. The meaning of each term can vary from state to state and laws may change over time, so double-check the most current legislation if you have questions.
How can you avoid being charged?
First and foremost, don't get behind the wheel if you're under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Use ride-sharing apps, get a ride from someone you trust or take advantage of public transportation.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI or DWI, don't hesitate to reach out.