DUI vs. DWI: What’s the Difference?

If you’re like a lot of people you may be wondering, what’s the difference between DUI and DWI? Are they the same thing? Or, perhaps you’re standing across from a friend or family member and one of you lives in California and the other in Texas or New York, and you’re having an intelligent conversation about the terms and now you’re both wondering, “Which one of us are right?” Here’s your answer: Driving under the influence and Driving While Intoxicated both mean basically the same thing; however, some states call it DUI, while other states call it DWI. For example, California, Arizona and Florida (and many other states) refer to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs as DUI. On the other hand, Texas and New York don’t use the term DUI. Instead, they refer to it as driving while intoxicated or DWI. In other words, it all has to do with the state that you are in. Some states call it DUI, some states call it DWI, and some states call it OVI or DUII (Oregon).

DUI or DWI is Illegal in All States

While the specific DUI laws and penalties vary from state-to-state, there are some definite similarities between the laws. So, regardless if you’re driving in LA, Dallas, or New York City, the following are applicable:

  • It’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher in all states.
  • Drivers under 21 can automatically lose their license for up to one year if they have any alcohol in their system.
  • Drivers can get a DUI or DWI for driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or lawfully prescribed medications.
  • Drivers can be charged with DUI, even if their BAC is below .08%, the legal limit. All the state has to do is prove that the person’s ability to drive was impaired by alcohol or drugs, or both.
  • If a driver refuses a chemical test (blood, breath, or urine), it’s likely to lead to an automatic license suspension, even if the driver had nothing to drink.
  • Unlike post-arrest chemical tests, field sobriety tests are optional and there is no penalty for politely refusing.

We hope this blog post cleared up a few things for you. If you’re facing “DWI” charges in Plano or Dallas, don’t hesitate to contact our firm for a DWI defense consultation!

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