What’s the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI?

difference between DUI and DWIMost of the time, after a night out, we want to avoid the problems that can follow us for years after a DUI or a DWI… or an OWI. We can’t even get the different names straight, much less know what the penalties are. The least confusing part is that if we drink and drive, we’ll end up in front of a judge, and will likely face serious consequences. But what’s the difference between a DUI and DWI? Is either one any better than the other?

In most states, there is no difference between a DUI, DWI or OWI. A state will use one acronym or another, and all of them refer to a person driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. With those charges will come various penalties that may include an ignition interlock requirement, according to the law.

However, some states, such as Maryland, have both a designation for DUI and DWI. If your BAC is less than .07 percent and you are pulled over for speeding, reckless driving or other dangerous acts, then you can be charged with DWI (driving while intoxicated) and face consequences for that crime. If your BAC is at the per se limit of .08 percent or higher in Maryland, you’ll be charged with DUI. As of October, 2016, a DUI conviction requires a mandatory ignition interlock requirement, even a first-offense.

Colorado has a similar take on lower BAC offenses, including a DWAI (driving while ability impaired) designation that can count toward your total number of alcohol-related traffic incidents. OWI (operated while intoxicated) is generally considered the same as a per se BAC conviction in Wisconsin, Iowa and other Midwestern states.

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