A number of people are seriously injured or killed as a result of alcohol related car accidents every year. For this reason, most states have developed strict laws and punishments for individuals who are caught operating a motor vehicle after drinking. What exactly is the difference between being charged with a DUI versus a DWI?
Defining a DUI
DUI is an acronym that stands for Driving Under the Influence. A DUI charge is a more broad term that can also encompass individuals who are operating a vehicle while under the influence of illicit drugs or even certain prescription medications.
As we all know, illegal street drugs can cause serious side effects that make it impossible for a person to safely operate a vehicle. Many prescription drugs also have side effects such as extreme drowsiness, especially medications used to treat depression and insomnia. A person who knows the dangers of these medications and drives under their influence anyway can be charged with a criminal offense. Individuals found to be under the influence of alcohol, illegal, or prescription drugs that would impair their ability to safely operate a vehicle will likely be charged with a DUI.
Defining a DWI
DWI is an acronym that stands for Driving While Intoxicated. A DWI charge is reserved for individuals caught operating a vehicle while intoxicated with alcohol. The definition of intoxication can vary slightly from state to state as each state has a legal limit for blood alcohol content. DWI is referring to cases where the driver of the vehicle has an elevated blood alcohol content that is well above his or her state’s legal limit.
The legal implications for both DUI and DWI can also vary from state to state. Both situations can warrant monetary fines, community service, jail time, or a combination thereof. Many states will give lesser punishments to a first time offender, but he or she will still have some form of legal punishment assessed.
In nearly all cases of DUI and DWI, a person charged with such a crime will immediately be booked into a holding cell to allow the alcohol to completely leave their system before they are released. They will then likely be scheduled with a future court date, at which time a judge will be presented with the facts of the case and will decide on appropriate punishment.
Situations that have the most serious legal implications for the driver are those in which another individual is hurt or killed. Also, situations where a great deal of public or personal property is damaged by the impaired driver can have more serious legal implications.
As we can see, crimes of this nature are potentially deadly to the driver as well as others. They can also lead to lifelong legal implications for the guilty party. It is imperative for drivers to avoid situations where they may be tempted to drive after drinking. The negative consequences of this behavior are far greater than any temporary pleasure gained from it.