If you have been charged with driving under the influence, it’s important to know the difference between driving while intoxicated, or DWI, and driving under the influence, or DUI. In some states, the charges are different and carry different penalties although both will remain on your driving record for a time. In some states, either offense remains essentially for life but it is a minimum of ten years in every state. Your DUI records will stay with you for a very long time.
A DUI is defined as driving under the influence and can be issued for driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or prescription medication. A DWI is defined as driving while legally intoxicated and the blood alcohol level can vary by state but in all states, a .08 blood alcohol content, or BAC, is considered intoxicated.
In states where the charges are separate, the punishment for each may have a different level of severity. However, both are serious charges that will adversely affect your life for at least a decade. Expect your insurance to skyrocket. Many larger carriers will not insure those with a DUI or DWI so you may be forced to switch insurance companies.
In addition to increased insurance rates, your driver’s license may be suspended for a period of time and the court may require you to enroll in a DUI/DWI class. If this is not your first offense, the class will be more extensive and therefore more expensive.
Generally, even for a first offense, the court will order you to pay a substantial fine, often in the thousands of dollars. Some states will impound your vehicle.
If there has been property damage or loss of life, or in the case of one or more previous DUI/DWI convictions, the charge may escalate from a misdemeanor to a felony. At this point, the ramifications of a DUI/DWI will have far more serious and far-reaching effects. There will be a trial, the services of a criminal defense attorney will be required, there may be jail or prison time required and there will be a substantial fine.
Future job prospects may be seriously and adversely affected. Many employers run background checks on prospective employees and many will not hire a person with a criminal background. DUI records are always criminal records if convicted.
*Tip … If you choose to drink and drive or do drugs and drive, be aware that you may be forfeiting your future. The ramifications of that decision can adversely affect you for the rest of your life. Make a much better choice and call a taxi or ensure that you have a designated driver. DUI records can affect every aspect of your life and limit your opportunities.