Are you one of those people who are struggling with the terms DUI and DWI? If so, you have plenty of company! Are they the same thing? Is DUI right and DWI wrong? Why do we have different terms? DUI and DWI mean the same thing; however, some states call them different things. In other words, the terms are used interchangeably, but they both mean driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or both.
Here in California, we call it driving under the influence or DUI. Florida and Arizona also call it DUI. However, Texas and New York call it driving while intoxicated or DWI. Oregon calls drunk driving DUII, and some states call it OVI. DUI and DWI are the most popular though.
DUI & DWI Are Illegal in All 50 States
Each state has enacted its own drunk and drugged driving laws; the penalties do vary from state-to-state. However, there are some things about DUI laws that are nearly uniform in all states. Whether you’re driving in Orange County, Alaska, Georgia, or New York, you can expect the following, regardless of the nuances in DUI laws:
- You cannot drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. It’s against the law in every state.
- It’s illegal for underage drivers (under 21) to drive with .01% to .02% of alcohol in their system.
- If you refuse a blood, breath, or urine test, your driver’s license will be suspended for up to 12 months.
- You do NOT have to take the field sobriety tests and there is no penalty for politely saying “no” to these divided attention tests.
- If the police see an open container of alcohol in your car or truck, they can usually search your vehicle.
- You can get a DUI or DWI even if your BAC was below the .08% legal limit. All that matters is that the state can prove that your ability to drive safely was impaired.
- Driving under the influence of a prescribed medication can lead to a DUI and the same penalties as an alcohol-related DUI.
- You can get a DUI even if you weren’t driving! However, the state has to prove that you were “in actual physical control” of the vehicle.
- Most misdemeanor DUIs involve probation. Violating probation can lead to a probation revocation and a jail sentence.