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Key Takeaways

  • A DWI refers to driving while intoxicated, whereas a DUI refers to driving under the influence.
  • Liberty Mutual provides the cheapest insurance rates for drivers looking for coverage post-DUI/DWI violation.
  • Every 45 minutes, a person is killed in a car accident involving alcohol.

Introduction

Are you looking for the difference between DUI and DWI? We'll break it down with all the details.

Hey, we're not here to pass judgment. Perhaps you had a rough day and were charged with DUI or reckless driving. On the other hand, perhaps you had a fantastic day and got a speeding ticket unintentionally.

The difference between DUI and DWI is not always crystal clear. There is always a thin line between DUI and DWI. What is a DWI? What is DUI? What happens when you get arrested for these violations? These questions are answered in detail below.

What is the difference between DUI and DWI?

DWI vs. DUI: There is no distinction between the two violations under federal law, as none is defined nationally. In reality, several states define and sanction DUI and DWI convictions differently, although they frequently refer to similar but distinct driving behaviors.

DUIs and DWIs can have financial and legal ramifications in the private and governmental sectors.

Car insurance companies take a strict view when it comes to DUI/DWI violations. A DUI conviction could increase your rates by 71%, or $1119, in 2021. In addition, as insurers reevaluate your risk, a DUI or DWI offense can cost you $3312 over three years.

Whether a driver is charged with DUI or DWI, the damage to their driving record is similar.

The breakdown below establishes the framework of the difference between DUI and DWI.

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Defining DUI and DWI

DUI: Driving Under The Influence

A DUI is committed when a driver has alcohol in their bloodstream. While the federal legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08%, depending on the driver's age, some states may prosecute DUI charges as low as 0.01% at BAC levels.

In some areas, a DUI can be given without the police using a breathalyzer to determine the driver's BAC. Sometimes, a DUI charge may be predicated on erratic driving, suspicion of alcohol impairment, or a field sobriety test.

DWI: Driving While Intoxicated/Impaired

In states that define DWI as Driving While Intoxicated/Impaired, there is no distinction between a DUI and DWI charge. However, in states that recognize them as separate offenses, DWI typically refers to driving under the influence of drugs, whether prescribed or recreational. These allegations indicate that the motorist engaged in risky conduct while behind the wheel.

A driver can be charged with DUI or DWI if they fail a field sobriety test, even if their BAC is below the legal limit in their state. States with zero-tolerance policies may not distinguish between DUI and DWI infractions, so the offense's location significantly impacts the legal outcome.

In a state that distinguishes between DUI and DWI as separate offenses, a DWI is typically the more serious charge. At the same time, a DUI is regarded as a lesser degree of impairment. In addition, some states give the possibility to lower a DWI penalty to a DUI if it is the driver's first offense involving drugs or alcohol and their BAC was below 0.08%.

These infractions are grave and difficult to overturn if the police had probable cause to stop the driver or if a breathalyzer or field sobriety test reveals intoxication.

OUI vs. OWI

What does OWI stand for? In some states, drivers may face an OUI or an OWI charge. An OUI refers to driving under the influence of alcohol, whereas an OWI refers to driving while intoxicated.

States that use these terminologies

Currently, there are five states that charge drivers with similar charges using this terminology:

States Terms Used
Indiana OWI
Iowa OWI
Maine OUI
Massachusetts OUI
Michigan OWI

Certain states may charge OWVI or DUAC drivers. OWVI refers to driving while visually impaired, whereas DUAC refers to driving with an illegal blood alcohol concentration.

In Michigan, you can be charged with OWVI if you attempt to operate a motor vehicle while visibly impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance.

In South Carolina, DUAC is utilized instead of DWI. South Carolina motorists with a BAC above 0.08 percent may face DUAC charges.

State-by-state differences - DUI and DWI

The consequences of a DUI or DWI conviction differ from state to state. Depending on the state in which you reside, the legal limit for intoxication can vary considerably.

For instance, while most states provide a DUI charge if the driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above 0.08%, Utah issues a DUI charge if the driver's BAC is above 0.05%. In addition, the penalty can escalate in several states if your BAC is 0.15% or higher.

A DUI or DWI charge often results in license suspension and alcohol education and treatment requirements. The duration of a license suspension depends on the state where you reside and whether it is your first, second, or third offense.

Your car may be impounded, or an ignition interlock device may be fitted, depending on where you live.

STATE TYPE FIRST OFFENSE SECOND OFFENSE
Alabama DUI $2100 in fines, a year in jail, 90-day license suspension $5100 in fines, a year in jail, 45-day license suspension, and two-year car ignition interlock
Alaska DUI $1500 in fine, 3 days in jail, and 90-day license suspension 20-day imprisonment,$3000 fine, and license suspension forof one year
Arizona DUI $1250 fine and 10 days in jail $3000 base fine,90 days in jail,one-year license suspension and required vehicle ignition interlock
Arkansas DUI, DWI $1000 in fines, one year in jail or community service, six-month license suspension and alcohol treatment $3000 in fines,a year in jail, two-year license suspension, and alcohol treatment and vehicle ignition interlock
California DUI $1000 in fines, 6 months in jail, 6 months license suspension, and DUI school $1000 in fines,a year in jail, one-year license suspension, and DUI school or SB 38
Colorado DUI $1000 in fines,one year in jail, nine-month license suspension, community service, and DMV points $1500 in fines,one year in jail, one-year license suspension, community service, and DMV points
Connecticut DUI $1000 in fines,six months in prison, 100 hours of community service, 45 days license suspension and one-year vehicle ignition interlock $4,000 in fines;two years in prison, 100 days of community service,45 days license suspension, and three-year vehicle ignition interlock
Delaware DUI $1500fine,one year in jail, andtwo years license suspension $2500fine,18 months in jail, and30 months license suspension
District of Columbia DUI, DWI $1000 in fines,180 days in jail, andsix months license suspension $5,000 in fines,180 days in jail, andone-year license suspension
Florida DUI $1000 in fines,six months in jail, andsix months license suspension $2000 in fines,nine months in jail, andone-year license suspension
Georgia DUI $300 in fines,10 days in jail, possible license suspension, community service $1000 in fines,one year in jail, one year license suspension, 30 days of community service and vehicle ignition interlock
Hawaii DUI, DWI $1000 in fines,five days in jail, one-year license suspension, community service, rehab $3000 in fines,30 days in jail, three years license suspension, community service, rehab
Idaho DUI $1000 in fines,one year in jail, three-month license suspension $2000 in fines,five years in jail, one-year license suspension
Illinois DUI Maximum $2500 in fines, maximum one year in jail, one-year license suspension, community service Maximum $2500 in fines, maximum one year in jail, five years license suspension, community service
Indiana DUI $5,000 in fines,one year in jail, andsix months license suspension $10000 in fines,three years in jail, andtwo years license suspension
Iowa DUI, DWI, OWI $1250 in fines,one year in jail, andsix months license revocation $6,250 in fines,two years in jail,one-year license revocation, andone-year vehicle ignition interlock
Kansas DUI $1000 in fines,two days in jail or 100 hours community service, 30-day license suspension, and alcohol treatment $1500 in fines,one year in jail, one year license suspension, one-year vehicle ignition interlock, and alcohol treatment
Kentucky DUI, DWI $500 in fines,30 days in jail, 120-day license suspension, community service, rehab $500 in fines,six months in jail, 18-month license suspension, community service, rehab
Louisiana DUI, DWI $1000 in fines,six months in jail, community service, rehab $1000 in fines,six months in jail, community service, rehab
Maine DUI, DWI $500 in fines and150 days license suspension $900 in fines, 12 days in jail, andthree years license suspension
Maryland DUI, DWI $1000 in fines,one year in jail, andsix months license suspension $2000 in fines,two years in jail, andone year license suspension
Massachusetts DUI $5,000 in fines,2.5 years in jail, and90 day license suspension $10000 in fines,2.5 years in jail, andtwo years license suspension
Michigan OWI, OWVI $500 in fines,93 days in jail, community service $1000 in fines,one year in jail, community service
Minnesota DUI $3000 in fines,one year in jail $3000 in fines,one year in jail
Mississippi DUI, DWI $1000 in fines,two days in jail,one-year license suspension, and driver education $1500 in fines,six months in jail, andtwo years license suspension, community service, rehab
Missouri DUI, DWI $1000 in fines,six months in jail,30-day license suspension $2000 in fines,one year in jail,five years license suspension
Montana DUI $1000 in fines,six months in jail,six month license suspension, rehab, driver education $1000 in fines,one year in jail,one-year license suspension, rehab, driver education
Nebraska DUI, DWI $500 in fines,60 days in jail,six months license suspension $500 in fines,180 days in jail,18 months license suspension
Nevada DUI, DWI $400 in fines,180 days in jail,185-day license suspension $750 in fines,180 days in jail, one-year license suspension
New Hampshire DUI, DWI $1200 in fines,two years license suspension $2000 in fines,one year in jail,three years license suspension
New Jersey DUI, DWI $500 in fines,30 days in jail,three months license suspension, driver education, community service, and vehicle ignition interlock $1000 in fines,90 days in jail,two years license suspension, driver education, community service, and vehicle ignition interlock
New Mexico DUI, DWI $500 in fines,90 days in jail, community service $1000 in fines,one year in jail, community service
New York DUI $2500 in fines,one year in jail,one-year license suspension $5,000 in fines,four years in jail,18-month license suspension
North Carolina DUI, DWI Level-based Level-based
North Dakota DUI, DWI $750 in fines,two days in jail,three months license suspension, community service, rehab $1500 in fines,10 days in jail,one-year license suspension, community service, rehab
Ohio DUI, DWI $1075 in fines,six months in jail,three years license suspension $1625 in fines,six months in jail,seven years license suspension
Oklahoma DUI, DWI $1000 in fines,one year in jail,180 days license suspension $2500 in fines,five years in jail,one-year license suspension
Oregon DUI, DWI $6,250 in fines,one year in jail,one-year license suspension $10000 in fines,one year in jail,three years license suspension
Pennsylvania DUI $5,000 in fines,six months in jail,one-year license suspension $10000 in fines,five years in jail,18 months license suspension
Rhode Island DUI Over $1200 in fines,one year in jail,one-year license suspension, community service, rehab Over $1750 in fines,one year in jail,two years license suspension, community service, rehab
South Carolina DUI, DUAC $1000 in fines,90 days in jail, six-month license suspension, vehicle ignition interlock for six months $6,500 in fines,three years in jail,one-year license suspension, vehicle ignition interlock for two years
South Dakota DUI, DWI $2000 in fines,one year in jail,one-year license suspension $2000 in fines,one year in jail,one-year license suspension
Tennessee DUI $1500 in fines,seven days in jail,one-year license suspension $3500 in fines,nearly one year in jail,two years license suspension
Texas DUI, DWI $2000 in fines,six months in jail,one-year license suspension $4,000 in fines,one year in jail,two years license suspension
Utah DUI, DWI $1310 in fines,180 days in jail,120 day license suspension $1560 in fines,10 days in jail,two year license suspension
Vermont DUI, DWI $750 in fines,two years in jail $1500 in fines,two years in jail
Virginia DUI, DWI $2500 in fines,one year in jail, one-year license suspension $2500 in finesone year in jail, three years license suspension
Washington DUI $5,000 in fines,one year in jail,two years license suspension, rehab $5,000 in fines,one year in jail,three years license suspension, rehab
West Virginia DUI $1000 in fines,six months in jail,six months license suspension $3000 in fines,one year in jail, 10-year license suspension, andsix months vehicle ignition interlock
Wisconsin OWI $300 in fines, nine months license revocation $1100 in fines,six months in jail, and18 months license revocation
Wyoming DUI, DWI $750 in fines, six months in jail, 90-day license suspension, and six months vehicle ignition interlock $750 in fines, six months in jail, one-year license suspension and vehicle ignition interlock

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DUI statistics in the US

In 2016, the NHTSA reported one drunk driving-related fatality every 50 minutes.

The statistics are difficult to ignore:

  • There were 1,018,008 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • 32% of all alcohol-impaired collisions result in fatalities.
  • From 2007 to 2016, the biggest number of fatal alcohol-impaired crashes involved drivers aged 25 to 34.
  • In 2016, 28% of fatal accidents involved drinking.
  • In 2016, 1.2 per 100,000 Americans under 21 were killed in drunk driving accidents.
  • The annual cost of accidents caused by drinking exceeds $44 billion.
  • Besides alcohol, legal and illegal drugs are implicated in around 16% of car accidents.

Even more sobering is that, according to FBI data, even while DUI and DWI arrest rates declined nearly 30% from 2010 to 2019, they still outnumber violent crime arrests for the same time.

Will DUIs and DWIs impact my insurance rates?

Getting a DUI may result in one of the following:

  • Suspension of license
  • Compulsory community service
  • Fines
  • Increased Insurance Premiums
  • Insurance coverage will be canceled

After a DUI or DWI conviction, the driver may be obliged to put an ignition interlock device on the steering wheel. This breathalyzer assures that the driver has a BAC of 0.0% to start the car.

According to Way.com's collection of insurance rate information, Liberty Mutual offers the most economical auto insurance after a DUI.

Do I Need an SR-22 After a DUI conviction?

Given the uniqueness of each driver's profile, you must obtain individualized quotes to determine which provider offers the best value. The offender may be required to file an SR-22 to the local DMV to apply for a new auto insurance policy following a DUI conviction. Typically, an insurer files an SR-22 on behalf of a driver as proof of insurance coverage (usually for a fee).

If the insurance provider fails to submit an SR-22, it may be the driver's responsibility to provide one. Reasonably, the legal and financial repercussions of being accused of DUI or DWI are serious.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Insurance Record?

In addition to the legal issues associated with a DUI, your driving record will be marred. In most places, a DUI remains on your driving record for five to ten years. Depending on where you reside, you may have a DUI on your driving record for the rest of your life.

The presence of a DUI on one's driving record can lead to several complications in the future. This includes escalating insurance premiums, SR-22 filing requirements, and employment challenges.

Drunk and Drugged Driving Laws

Consider the following legal terminology to demonstrate the complexity of state legislation regulating drunk and drugged driving:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI) typically requires a BAC of at least 0.08%.
  • A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.18% is required for aggravated driving while intoxicated (DWI).
  • The BAC threshold for driving while ability is impaired by alcohol (DWAI/alcohol) is between 0.05 and 0.07%.
  • Driving under the influence of a drug other than alcohol (DWAI/drug).
  • Driving under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol (DWAI/combination) is illegal.

Underage drivers accused of driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between 0.02 and 0.07% can be prosecuted under the state's zero-tolerance rule.

In certain states, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is punishable by imprisonment, fines, and revocation of driving privileges.

Your auto insurance will be revoked if you lose your driver's license.

State-specific DUI and DWI laws and penalties differ.

Bottom Line

Significant variations exist between a DUI and a DWI, and the punishments for each vary depending on the offense's state. Additionally, these terms might have quite different meanings depending on the location.

Auto Insurance Data Methodology

The auto insurance rates published in this guide are based on the results of research completed by Way.com’s data team. Using a mix of public and internal data, we analyzed millions of rate averages across U.S. ZIP codes.

Quotes are typically based on a full coverage policy average unless otherwise noted within the content.

These rates were publicly sourced from insurer filings and should be used for comparative purposes only — your own quotes will differ. Given this, it’s important to go through our insurance steps form to find how much you can save with way.com

FAQs

Will I go to jail if I receive a DUI or DWI?

In most states, a first-offense DUI or DWI is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to six or twelve months in jail. In a few states, however, the maximum jail sentence for a first DUI offense is significantly lesser.

How long do DUIs and DWIs stay on your driving record?

DUI or DWI convictions often remain on a driver's record for five to ten years and on an insurance record for three to five years. So, in addition to the legal issues associated with a DUI, your driving record is marred. In most places, a DUI remains on your driving record for five to ten years.

What's the legal limit for blood-alcohol content?

The legal limit for driving in the United States is 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

What happens if I fail a breathalyzer test?

If you fail the test, you will be issued an Immediate Roadside Prohibition, which will begin immediately and extend for 90 days. In addition, you will receive a $500 fine, have your vehicle confiscated, and be required to complete a driving course that will cost approximately $1,000.

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