What Is the Difference between DUI and DWI
When it comes to drinking and driving, what is the difference between DUI and DWI? The precise answer to that question depends upon the state where the charges are being made. In the state of Virginia, there really is no legal difference between the two terms. Virginia Beach DUI law firms will tell you that these terms are applied in exactly the same way in our state. Driving with any blood alcohol level above the .08 limit at the time you are arrested constitutes a crime that can be punished in the same way. However, it is interesting to look a little more closely at the distinctions that are sometimes made when these terms are used.
What the terms mean in other states
DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence, while DWI means either Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired. These terms apply to driving after consuming alcohol or drugs. In some states, the use of one term or the other signifies a greater or lesser degree of intoxication and may make a difference to the severity of the penalties that are imposed when you are convicted. In those states, the DUI usually involves a lower level of intoxication and is considered the lesser charge. Some states allow DWI charges to be reduced to DUI under certain circumstances. Typically, for that reduction to be made, the arrest must be a first offense and the blood alcohol content must be close to, rather than wildly above, the legal limit.
States other than Virginia have distinct charges referring to Driving While Impaired. That carries a lesser penalty than DUI or DWI. The police sometimes shorten driving while impaired to just impaired in order to avoid confusion with DUI or DWI. Some states use other acronyms such as DWAI (driving with ability impaired), and OUI (operating under the influence).
Exception for federal court charges
One exception applies to the rule that there is no distinction between DWI and DUI in Virginia. Federal courts such as the U.S. District Courts in Virginia use the Code of Federal Regulations, which specifies that DUI refers to a blood alcohol content (BAC) between .02 and .08. Under these regulations, DWI stands for a BAC of .08 and above.
Contact Shannon & Bedois, P.C.
Your choice of DUI law firms in Virginia Beach plays a vital role in the outcome of your case. I strive to provide all clients with the level of representation I would expect if I were in their shoes. Contact the DUI law firm of Shannon & Bedois, P.C. in Virginia Beach today for a free initial consultation regarding your DUI or criminal defense case.