Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are two phrases that refer to the same crime. Although these words seem interchangeable, there is a major difference between DUI and DWI legal charges.
In most states throughout the country, an individual can be charged with either offense. However, North Carolina has a unique distinction regarding which term it prefers to use when filing DUI offenses. In this state, courts prefer DWI over DUI because of its acronym’s similarity to a phrase used in our criminal code, Driving While Impaired (DWI).
What Are The Differences Between A DUI And A DWI?
There are several key differences between a DUI and a DWI. The first difference is that a DUI violation can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony, while DWI charges are only considered felonies in North Carolina. A second major difference between these two offenses is the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers under the influence. Those arrested for a DUI may face penalties if their BAC level is at or above .08%, whereas those charged with a DWI may be penalized if their BAC level is greater than .04%.
What Is Considered Under The Influence?
Both state laws and local ordinances make it illegal to drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol. These substances include controlled substances, prescription medications, over-the-counter medication, and even certain herbal supplements. In most states, including North Carolina, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater is illegal. With many prescription medications, a driver’s impairment is determined by dosage and frequency of use.
Someone who drives while impaired could face DUI or DWI charges depending on several factors related to their specific situation. Was there an accident involved? Was anyone injured as a result of this person driving under the influence? How much did this individual have to drink before getting behind the wheel? What was his or her weight versus the weight of the drinks consumed before operating a motor vehicle?
These are all questions that can help determine whether someone’s BAC level was at or above .08%. In the case of a DWI, this BAC level is determined by dividing weight and gender. A person’s blood alcohol concentration will typically range from .04% to .15%.
What Are The Penalties For Driving Under The Influence?
Both DUI and DWI offenses are considered misdemeanor crimes. However, the penalties for a DUI conviction may vary depending on whether or not this is an individual’s first offense or if there were aggravating circumstances involved in their arrest.
In most cases, a person convicted of a first-time DUI will receive a less severe sentence than someone who has been charged with multiple DUIs throughout their lifetime. The penalties for DUI vary significantly from state to state, and the maximum jail sentence a person could face is typically one year. In some cases, particularly those involving repeat offenders or underage drinking, a person convicted of DUI may receive a prison sentence instead of probation.
A DUI can be classified as a misdemeanor or felony, while DWI charges are only considered felonies in North Carolina. A second major difference between these two offenses is the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers under the influence. Those arrested for a DUI may face penalties if their BAC level is at or above .08%, whereas those charged with a DWI may be penalized if their BAC level is greater than .04%.
The penalties for both of these misdemeanors vary by state. Even within states, there can be different punishments depending on factors like whether someone had committed multiple DUIs throughout his/her lifetime and was driving an especially heavy vehicle when they were pulled over, etc.