The DWI charge carries with it much more severe penalties than the DUI. Drivers convicted of DWI have been proven to be driving in a state so unfit that they have much tougher jail sentences and fines to endure upon conviction. Nevertheless, the legal system does allow drivers to plead down a DWI to a DUI if certain standards are met. For instance, if the incident is a person’s first offense and should it be proven that the BAC is not drastically over the state’ legal limit the prosecution would be inclined to lessen the DWI charge to a DUI.
On the other hand, states like Minnesota simply use the term DWI instead of DUI to refer to drivers operating vehicles above the state’s accepted BAC level. Other states use the term DWI and DUI to differentiate between drivers who are driving under the influence of alcohol and those that are under the influence illegal drugs. In cases such as these, the drivers who are under the influence of illegal drugs are charged with a DUI.
Whether a person is found to be guilty of driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, authorities are increasingly cracking down on drivers who put other people’s lives at risk while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The United States continues to lead the world in drunken driving arrests due to an increased focus on lives lost and irreparable damage by drunk drivers. Similarly, insurance companies have mechanisms in place to protect themselves from paying out damages to drivers who have a blood alcohol content that exceeds the legal limit.
For instance, insurance companies often declare the insurance of drivers who have been convicted of a DWI or a DUI as null and void, meaning that the driver holds all responsibility for any damages incurred in a car accident. Often, the only legal consideration of whether or not a person is driving while intoxicated or under the influence is the field sobriety test that is administered by a cop, usually on the side of the road. The field sobriety test consists of a breathalyzer test, and several cognitive exercises that any un-inebriated person would be able to accomplish. Perhaps the most well-known of these field sobriety tests is the one leg stand, where a person is asked to stand on one leg for 30 seconds.
Overall, the DWI and the DUI appear to mean somewhat different things depending on where one happens to be in the country. However, both terms refers to a driver’s state of inebriation while operating a vehicle. Whether one is found to be driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence, there is bound to be severe legal consequences for either charge.