The matter of deciphering the difference between DUI vs DWI is a little confusing to those unfamiliar with their legal meanings.
While DUI stands for ‘Driving Under the Influence’, DWI means ‘Driving While Intoxicated’.
But what, precisely, does each one entail and why are they different? Read on to learn the difference between DUI vs DWI.
Different States, Different Definitions
To add further confusion to the matter, the definitions differ from state to state. In a nutshell, each acronym refers to a state of driving having been drinking alcohol.
In some states, both terms relate to alcohol and/or drugs, while in other states one might include drug use while the other doesn’t.
DUI vs DWI in North Carolina
A DWI in the state of North Carolina is, essentially, the same thing as DUI – this term is an umbrella for intoxicated driving offenses.
This changed in 1983 when the North Carolina Safe Roads Act stated that any form of driving having taken drugs or alcohol was a case of Driving While Impaired.
If pulled over, you are tested for a blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This means, if you are of legal drinking age (21), the limit is 0.08%, while commercial drivers have a limit of 0.04%.
If you have a prior DWI, your levels are automatically capped at 0.04% (this is subject to the individual’s situation).
The state will assess whether the driver’s physical or mental state is impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two.
How Else Are You Liable Under NC DWI Laws?
DWI laws in North Carolina state that you are liable if you have an open container in your vehicle if the driver is or has been consuming alcohol.
In the case of commercial vehicles, the law also takes into account if there is an open or closed container in the passenger area of the vehicle.
If you help someone under the legal age of 21 years obtain alcohol, or buy or give them alcohol (including letting them use another ID to do so) this counts too.
If you are breathalyzed but are under the alcohol limit, you can still be tested for drug use.
A Drug Recognition Expert will be called to the scene to determine if you are under the influence drugs. They will undertake an evaluation process and will charge you with a DWI should they find you have been taking drugs.
This also takes into account the consumption of prescription or nonprescription medications that can impair operating a vehicle.
What Happens Next?
The arresting officer will have a reason to believe the person behind the wheel of the vehicle is impaired and so cannot continue driving.
You will be assessed in terms of BAC levels and, in some cases, could still be charged if you are under the legal limit, depending on your demeanor.
If pleading guilty to the offense, you will most likely lose your license, receive a fine and pay court costs.
For secondary offenders, this could mean jail, probation, community service and eventually you will have to re-learn to drive.
It’s also likely you will be evaluated in terms of your drinking behavior and relationship with alcohol, and you may have to attend Alcoholics Anonymous.
Getting arrested for driving under the influence can become a very expensive exercise.
But if you find yourself in jail, your first step should be to secure freedom so you can start taking the next steps towards your overall defense.
A Be Out Bail Bonding is a fully licensed, experienced bail bonds service, ready to provide you with the funds you will need to secure your release.
Contact us for more information. Our communication lines are open 24 hours a day.