What is the difference between DUI and DWI?

The distinction between a DUI and a DWI might be difficult to determine, but in jurisdictions that recognize both offenses, they are distinct from one another. Describe DWI. While DUI is an acronym for “driving under the influence,” it stands for “driving while drunk.” Bankrate’s insurance editorial team lays down the distinctions between DWI and DUI charges and explains how your auto insurance can be affected if you’re found guilty of driving while intoxicated to help you understand your state’s alcohol and drug traffic laws.

What is the difference between DUI and DWI?
What is the difference between DUI and DWI

Defining DUI vs. DWI

While DWI and DUI may be used similarly in certain jurisdictions, they may have different meanings in others. These definitions may be connected to the degree of drunkenness.

When a state uses both DWI and DUI, the DWI may be the more serious offense. What, then, is DUI? A DUI accusation might indicate that the motorist was using drugs or alcohol while behind the wheel. It’s crucial to remember that the drugs don’t necessarily have to be illegal. If a person becomes intoxicated after using prescription or over-the-counter medications, it may also result in a DUI arrest. Even if the motorist has a blood alcohol content (BAC) that is below the legal limit but is still impaired, a DUI may still be applicable.

Whether The state where the event happened and the BAC limitations established ultimately determine whether the charge is a DUI or a DWI. In reality, several states prosecute someone who has driven while inebriated using wholly different terms. To guarantee that you always drive under the legal limits for alcohol and drugs, you should be aware of the driving rules in your state.

A charge of DUI or DWI only materializes when a police officer can demonstrate that you were too intoxicated to drive.


Drivers may face either an OUI or an OWI charge in various states. An OWI stands for “operating while drunk,” whereas an OUI is for “operating while under the influence of intoxicating liquor.” Currently, five states charge drivers comparable charges using this terminology:

  • OWI in Illinois
  • OWI in Iowa
  • Massachusetts: OUI Maine: OUI; Michigan: OWI
  • California: OWI


Drivers with an OWVI or DUAC may incur fees in several states. While DUAC stands for driving under the influence of alcohol, OWVI stands for operating while visibly intoxicated.

Although it is a less serious violation than an OWI, driving while visibly intoxicated by alcohol or a controlled drug in Michigan can result in an OWVI prosecution. DWI is replaced by the phrase DUAC in South Carolina. The difference between a DUI and a DUAC in South Carolina is that the former focuses on the driver’s level of impairment, regardless of their blood alcohol content, while the latter only applies to BAC levels higher than 0.08.

Consequences that a DWI or DUI may have in each state

following your conviction
You can be subject to severe penalties for a DUI or DWI, such as fines, license and registration suspensions, and even prison time. The precise punishments imposed, however, vary depending on a number of variables, including the state in which you were found guilty, whether this was your first drunk driving crime, if you were driving with minors, and how much you were above the legal limit.

For instance, if it is judged that you have a “high BAC,” although the precise meaning of high might vary, some jurisdictions will raise your penalty. In South Carolina, a high BAC is merely 0.10 percent, but in Washington, D.C., a high BAC may not be considered until you are at or over 0.20 percent. many states Some states require drivers to place an interlock device in their car after their first DUI, while others only do so after their second (or never) violation.

It’s critical to keep up with any changes to the regulations in your state since traffic laws are continuously changing. As a result, the DMV in your state can be the best resource for the most recent details on the DUI sanctions that apply there. You might want to speak with a lawyer if you have been accused of DUI or DWI, so they can guide you through the procedure.

What is the difference between DUI and DWI?
What is the difference between DUI and DWI?

Will DUIs and DWIs impact my insurance rates?

Yes, but to what extent will depend on your carrier and other rating considerations. Your insurance provider assesses a number of factors, including your driving history and, in certain states, your age, gender, and credit score, to determine the likelihood that you will be in an accident overall. Since driving while intoxicated is a dangerous practice, your insurance provider will likely increase your rate to reflect the greater possibility that they will have to pay out a claim on your behalf in the future.

A DUI or DWI conviction may also cause your insurance provider to classify you as a high-risk driver. If so, it can decline to renew your coverage, which would force you to look for insurance elsewhere. After a DUI, finding insurance may require some searching. Additionally, insurance for high-risk drivers is usually far more expensive than for drivers with lower or normal risks.

A DUI or DWI may result in the suspension of your license, and depending on your state, you may need to carry an SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility in order to have it reinstated. Your insurance provider submits an SR-22 form to the DMV as proof that you are still carrying insurance. Although an SR-22 shouldn’t have a significant influence on your rate, there is normally a minor registration cost (often between $25 and $50). Aside from the SR-22, several states also mandate you to carry greater liability limits, which would raise your premium to at least twice as high as the minimums set by the state. The form you’d fill out in Virginia and Florida

Drunk and Drugged Driving Laws

Think about legal terminologies in New York to get an idea of how complex state DUI laws are. These consist of:

DWI usually includes a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08%. In New York, the threshold is 0.04% for commercial drivers.

  • A BAC of at least 0.18% is required for aggravated driving while intoxicated (DWI).
  • A BAC of greater than 0.05% but less than 0.07% is required to be driving while intoxicated (DWAI/alcohol).
  • driving while under the influence of just one substance, not including alcohol (DWAI/drug).
  • driving while under the combined influence of alcohol and/or drugs (DWAI/combination).
  • If a motorist in New York is accused of operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) between 0.02% and 0.07%, they may
  • be punished under the state’s zero-tolerance policy.

For driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, New York law imposes jail time, fines, and license suspension.

In most cases, losing your driver’s license results in the cancellation of your auto insurance.

The laws of New York are only one example. State-specific regulations and punishments apply to drunk and drugged driving. For instance, in Wisconsin, a first-time DUI conviction might result in a nine-month license suspension, while in Georgia and Tennessee, it could result in a one-year ban.

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