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All You Need to Know About DWI vs. DUI

Updated on April 18, 2011

There are two types of driving offenses which are committed under the influence of a certain kind of intoxicating substance. The two offenses are DUI (i.e. driving under influence) & DWI (i.e. driving while intoxicated). Both types of offenses could either be criminal or civil in nature. Although both these driving offenses seems to be alike, it is not so. They widely differ in their details and it would certainly be in the interest of a driving offender to know some basic differences between them. Let us discuss the basic differences between these two, separately:

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

This kind of driving offense is specifically related to the driving while being drunk with alcohol. When a person is charged with the DWI civil case that means the person has not reached the age of 21 while committing this crime and the person will have to go through the sobriety test. According to the law when the legal limit of alcohol in the body, at the time of driving, is above 0.8% then this case can be imposed on the offender. But, when a person above the age of 21 refuses to undergo a sobriety test, he or she can be imposed with a fine of up to $5000, cancelling of the license for up to one year and a jail term for the repeated offenders.

On the other hand the criminal DWI case attracts a fine not less than $2000 and a jail term not less than three days. In this case the offender submits to the sobriety test and founds to be having the BAC index well above the allowed legal limit. Along with the punishment mentioned above, the offender could have to undergo an alcohol awareness program too.

Driving Under Influence (DUI)

DUI cases can also be of the civil as well the criminal type. The DUI charges can also be pressed when the driver is under the influence of marijuana or some kind of prescription drugs. A civil DUI case is imposed on the offender who is under the age of 21 and his or her test for the BAC was found to be lower than the prescribed legal limit, i.e. 0.8%. While a criminal DUI case is imposed on the offenders who are above the age of 21 years and are found to be having a BAC lower than the prescribed legal limit.

For the offenders committing this crime for the very first time, the punishment includes a fine up to $5000 but no jail term. Besides, the offender could possibly be ordered by the court to do some community service or undergo an alcohol awareness program. For the repeating offenders the punishment can also include a jail term with hefty fines.

As the time passes the different states are strengthening the laws governing these two driving offenses. Earlier, the punishment was not as much severe as the punishments which are awarded to the offenders today.

When a person is caught for any of these two offenses he or she has to go through a series of sobriety test under the observance of a law enforcement officer. After the test, it is upon the discretion of the observing law enforcement officer if he charges you for any of the two offenses or not. Once you are found guilty, you are immediately taken to the jail until you are presented before a court or until you post a bond.


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