Regulations for DUI and DWI

Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI) can be serious charges that impact your life for years to come. To avoid receiving a DUI or DWI, you might wonder what counts as intoxicated, how drunk or high you have to be, and how the police determine if you’re under the influence. Better understanding these factors can help you make the right choices when you’re out for a night on the town and wanting to avoid incriminating charges.


DUI/DWI Definitions

DUIs and DWIs are not that different in most states. For the most part, they mean that a person was driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of or impaired by alcohol or drugs. If a state makes a distinction between the two charges, note that a DWI is a greater offense than a DUI. Blood alcohol concentration is normally used to determine if someone is too drunk or high to be driving. You can look into your own state’s laws to see the specifics of how they define each.


Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) 

BAC refers to the amount of alcohol that is in your system at the time you are driving. Someone with a BAC that is over the limit for operating a vehicle may be issued a DUI or DWI. If your BAC is .08% or higher when you are pulled over, you will more than likely get a DUI. The same goes for drugs, though the limit may depend on the specific drug in your system, and it may be measured in milligrams.


Effects on Driving

State laws vary when it comes to issuing a DUI versus a DWI. Some states go only by the strictly measured levels, which means you’re guaranteed a DUI if you’re over the limit. Other states require that an officer prove your driving skills have been impaired because of your alcohol or drug usage. This can mean the difference between simply being under the influence and being actually intoxicated, which can change the effects of your case.



Depending on the severity of your BAC levels, you may receive a combination of jail time, fines, and a suspension on your driver’s license. You are always innocent until proven guilty, but refusing to take required tests (like blood or breath) can get your license suspended anyway. Each state has different penalties, so contact a lawyer, like a Civic Center San Francisco DUI lawyer from Hallinan Law Firm, if you feel your rights have been infringed on or you aren’t clear about your situation.