General Question

silky1's avatar

What is the difference between DUI and DWI?

Asked by silky1 (1505points) September 17th, 2010

Just wondering why the two terms.

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14 Answers

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MrItty's avatar

1) Because different jurisdictions have different laws, and different names for those laws. There is no national standard.

2) DWI means “driving while intoxicated”. Intoxication generally refers to alcohol. DUI means “driving under the influence”. The “influence” could be ANY drug. Some jurisdictions that use both terms might have several laws for driving while drunk and driving while on any other drug.

Austinlad's avatar

In Texas …

DUI (Driving under the influence)
* driving under the combined influence of alcohol and/or other drugs, driving under the influence per se or drunk in charge [of a vehicle]. Such laws may also apply to boating (as in Canada), piloting aircraft, and even bicycling in some states such as California.
* applies only to minors (under 21) because any amount of alcohol in their system (even if it’s under the legal amount for adults) is illegal.
* implies any illegal substance
* means it’s in the car and you could get it

DWI (Driving While Intoxicated)
* refers to just alcohol.
* driving while under the influence (meaning you were over the legal limit
* for everyone who is over the legal limit.
* means you already got it

crazyivan's avatar

In some states, they further complicate the issue by adding OUI (Operating Under the Influence) since, if you’re drunk enough, you aren’t really driving the car so much as just holding the steering wheel…

john65pennington's avatar

In Tennessee, both are the same. different jurisdictions have diifferent definitions of DWI or DUI, but both are basically the same. its like some jurisdictions have all blue lights and some have red and blue.

robmandu's avatar


In Texas (and likely most other states) intoxication is not limited to “alcohol or drugs”. You can be intoxicated on water if you drink too much of it. Intoxication therefore is when you’re impaired after introducing something into your body (eat, drink, intravenously, whatever).

[Source:] I was jury foreman on a DUI case in Dallas County earlier this year.

Seek's avatar

In Florida, I’m pretty sure DWI means “Driving While Impaired”. You can literally get a DWI for being tired or having the flu.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

In Illinois they had both while I was living there. DWI was driving while intoxicated, which pretty much meant you were going to jail and that your car would be impounded. The odds were bad that you’d be allowed your license again for a while. a DUI, driving under the influence was less severe and usually meant you’d need to switch seats with your passenger or have someone come get you. Ticket for sure, license suspension depended on how well you showed up for court. Here in NY you shouldn’t drive under any circumstances. If you do, it’s probably better to be impaired in some way so you don’t shoot anyone.

Seek's avatar

@crazyivan Had to take Defensive Driving to remove points from my license recently. They discussed that during the class. If you’d like to front the $29.95 to get an access code, I’ll be happy to show it to you. ^_^

crazyivan's avatar

Wow… do they have a side-of-the-road flu test like they do for drunks?

“Sir, your breath smells like chicken noodle soup. You mind stepping out of the car? There you go, now hold your kleenex straight out and bring it slowly toward your nose. Good…”

Floridians are freaking crazy (no offense, I’m married to one so I think that makes it okay). There is (or at least was very recently) a law on the books in Florida that made it essentially legal to shoot somebody if you “felt threatened” by them. That was the actual wording of the freaking law!

Seek's avatar

It’s more like if you hit a car and injure someone, and the court finds out you hadn’t slept for 28 hours, they’ll claim you were “impaired”. Like you should have known you were too tired to drive, or you were going to puke while driving, and had someone drive for you instead.

And yes, Floridians are batshit insane. At least, their legislators are.

mollysmithee's avatar

The main difference between a DUI and DWI is age. If you are under 21, you can be charged with driving under the influence, or DUI. This charge means that you are driving a vehicle while you have alcohol in your blood stream.
This article expounds on the differences between the two:

amykloster's avatar

It’s only differentiated between age in a few states. this article explains the law more specifically. Basically, in most states, the charges can be interchangeable for the same meaning but possibly have different fines, etc. It all depends on your state.

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