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About DWI Law
Drinking to excess and driving is a crime in every state. To secure a DWI conviction, the prosecution must prove two main points; you were driving, and you were over the legal limits of intoxication (0.08 for most states) or impaired by your alcohol or drug consumption. In addition, prosecutors can secure a DUI simply by showing you were intoxicated to the extent that it affected your ability to safely drive.
If convicted of a DWI, you could face one or more of the following penalties:
- Prison time
- Mandatory classes
- Driver’s license suspension
Additional penalties can be added if your BAC was 0.15 or more. In addition, a DWI conviction can result in significant collateral consequences, including the loss of a job, problems finding employment, issues at school, and damage to your reputation in your community. In fact, a DWI may even have an impact on your ability to obtain or keep a professional license.
Does Every State Have a DWI Law?
Every state has laws against drunk or impaired driving as well as stiff penalties for those who are convicted. Generally, this charge is referred to as a DUI, but other terms can be used too.
- DUI (Driving Under the Influence): More than half of the states referred to drunk or impaired driving as a DUI, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
- OWI (Operating While Intoxicated): Is used in Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan.
- DWI (Driving While Intoxicated): Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Texas all use this term.
- OUI (Operating Under the Influence): Used in conjunction with DUI in Massachusetts, and Maine uses it exclusively for impaired driving.
- OVI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired): Used only in Ohio.
What is the Difference Between DWI and DUI?
Both a DWI and a DUI can tarnish your driving record. However, they aren’t necessarily the same. There is a difference between the two in some states, but in others, the terms are used interchangeably. DUI stands for driving under the influence, while DWI refers to driving while intoxicated. DUI could mean driving while under the influence of any substance—not just alcohol but also prescription or illegal drugs.
Depending on the state in which the incident occurred, you might be charged with operating under the influence (OUI), operating while intoxicated (OWI), or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) instead of DUI or DWI. The differences between DWI and DUI charges are ultimately determined by the state where the incident occurred. Some states with DUI laws charge individuals who have a high BAC (usually more than 0.15) with a DWI.
Why You Need a DWI Attorney on Your Side
If you’ve been charged with a DWI/DUI or another similar charge, you may feel concerned and overwhelmed. It’s a heavy burden to bear, but you don’t have to carry it alone. Having a DWI attorney on your side will significantly improve your chances of getting your charges reduced or even thrown out. A DWI attorney may also be able to determine whether or not the charges against you were valid to begin with. Even if they were, your DWI lawyer could help develop the best defense for your charges by considering all the facts of the case. If there are no defenses available, a lawyer may still be able to help you by negotiating a plea bargain agreement that mitigates the short and long-term consequences of a conviction.
No matter the specific type of drunk or drugged driving you face, you need a professional on your side to make sure you are treated fairly and that your rights are represented. Experienced DWI lawyers understand the state-specific laws and how they apply to your specific case. They are also familiar with the prosecutors and judges in your case and will leverage this to your advantage. Call an experienced DWI lawyer for help today!