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The difference between DWI and DUI

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2023 | Drunk Driving |

Driving under the influence carries significant penalties in Louisiana, and being convicted of drunk driving can have life altering consequences. It’s important to understand what the law has to say about driving while intoxicated.

Beer being poured to a bar patron

From the very beginning, certain terminology can be confusing. You’ve probably seen DUI (driving under the influence), DWI (driving while intoxicated) and maybe other like OUI (operating under the influence) or OVI (operating a vehicle while impaired). All these terms seem to mean something similar, but understanding the exact differences can be crucial.

What exactly do DUI and DWI mean?

In both cases, the general nature of the offense is driving a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Most commonly, this is alcohol, but narcotics and drugs also qualify. It’s also important to note that legally prescribed pharmaceuticals can lead to a DUI charge.

When it comes to alcohol, the standard for a DUI or DWI is blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. A BAC of 0.08 is the threshold at which a person is considered to be driving while impaired.

Many people are unaware that a DUI or DWI isn’t confined to only operating a car or truck. Most are aware that operating a motorcycle or moped can result in a DUI, but it’s also possible to be charge while riding a bicycle.

What’s the difference between DUI and DWI?

DUI, DWI and all other acronyms describing driving while impaired usually mean the same thing. Different states have different descriptors, but in most cases the offense is similar, as are the penalties and punishments.

In some states, DWI can carry a lesser charge than a DUI, in which case there’s a material difference between the two. However, for most states – including Louisiana – no such distinction exists.

The terms DUI and DWI have slightly different constructions, but both refer to the same offense of driving while under the influence of an intoxicating substance. The same is true of similar terms like OVI, OUI and OWI.

Is there such a crime as “Boating While Intoxicated” (BWI) or “Boating Under The Influence” (BUI) in Louisiana?

Not per se. But anyone operating any motorized vehicle (car, truck, moped, scooter, tractor, aircraft, watercraft, etc.) while under the influence of either drugs or alcohol can be charged with DWI.  So, yes, boaters also need to be careful not to “drink and boat” or they run the risk of being arrested for DWI.