DUI vs. DWI vs. DWAI: What’s The Difference?


The law makes several distinctions regarding driving under the influence charges. Most people have heard of DUI, DWI, and DWAI, but what do these mean, and how do they differ? Understanding the unique distinctions of DUI vs DWI vs DWAI these charges and the penalties they carry is critical.

Drunk Driving is on the Rise in New York

In New York, and across the United States, drunk driving is on the rise. The following data was recently released by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles. Each year, the following averages apply to drunk driving.

  • There are around 8,384 accidents.
  • The are 4,288 non-fatal injuries each year.
  • There are around 322 fatalities resulting from drunk driving each year.

Like most states, New York is cracking down on drunk driving. The harsh penalties imposed on drunk driving offenders are meant to curb their behaviors. When it comes to the charges and penalties, individuals need to be aware of the differences between DUI, DWI, and DWAI.

What’s the Difference Between DUI, DWI, and DWAI?

While some of the terms of drunk driving are interchangeable in the media and everyday life, there are key differences between these types of charges that cannot be overlooked. Consider the following to learn about the critical distinctions.

What is a DUI?

DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. This charge covers any type of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The state of New York often uses DUI as an umbrella term that covers many instances of driving under the influence, including while taking prescription drugs.

What is a DWI?

DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. This charge is primarily used for driving while drinking. The blood alcohol content of NY drivers cannot exceed 0.08%. Any percentage above this number will result in DWI charges.

What is a DWAI? DWAI Meaning

DWAI stands for Driving While Ability Impaired. This charge is given to drivers with a blood alcohol level below 0.08% but who are impaired and unable to drive safely. This charge is normally less serious than DUI or DWI.

Penalties for DUI vs DWI vs DWAI

The penalties for DUI, DWI, and DWAI vary according to the offense. Individuals could face fines that range from $500 to $1000. Those charged with the above could also face the following penalties.

  • Revocation of their driver’s license
  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Community service

If an individual is charged with three or more drug or alcohol-related offenses within ten years, their driver’s license privileges may be permanently revoked. This penalty can also arise from refusal to submit to testing. Furthermore, you may be required to make bail to avoid jail time for a DUI.

How to Avoid Drunk Driving in New York

Getting behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense that should never be taken lightly. Many people die each year because of drunk drivers.

Those who plan on drinking need to ensure they have a designated driver to get them home, or they should call a taxi. Avoiding driving while under the influence will not only prevent a person from facing stiff penalties but will also save many lives in the process.

When to Hire a Lawyer for DUI, DWI, or DWAI

If you have been charged with drunk or impaired driving in New York or NYC, then hiring a DUI attorney is a crucial step. As soon as you get the chance, contacting a lawyer will ensure you the best chance of avoiding jail time and minimizing your charges.

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