You may have heard different terms on the web - Drunk Driving, DUI (Driving Under the Influence), and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) - and are wondering if there is any difference in these terms. In New Jersey, they are interchangeable, and there is no distinction.

DUI is a broader term, though, because it includes drugs as well as alcohol. You are "under the influence" of one of them. Prosecution and sentencing for driving under the influence of either substance fall under the same set of statutes and involve the same consequences, including imprisonment, surcharges, license suspension, fees and program requirements, such as detention in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.

Is There a Distinction in Other States?

Every state has slightly different drunk driving laws, each using variations of terminology to describe the act. It comes down to the words themselves. A DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) involves operating a motor vehicle while over the legal limit (which is 0.08% blood alcohol content). You may not show the signs of drunkenness, and it may not have affected your driving (due perhaps to a high tolerance for alcohol), but you are still guilty if a breath or blood test shows a high BAC.

On the other hand, DUI (Driving Under the Influence) involves just that - you are driving, and the alcohol or drugs are affecting your ability to do so safely. The officer pulled you over because you were weaving in the road, or got into an accident, and a standard field sobriety test shows the drugs or alcohol were affecting your driving (even if your BAC was below 0.08%)!

One example of this is Maryland, which has DWI (Driving While Impaired) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence). The former is charged when your BAC is 0.07% to 0.08%, and the latter is charged when it is 0.08% or higher. The latter charge, naturally, is more serious.

So What Does a DUI/DWI Charge Mean to You?

No matter which term you use in New Jersey, being charged with drunk driving is serious business! The consequences are wide ranging and potentially devastating. For this reason, I always recommend that you get a lawyer to protect your rights.

If you have been charged with drunk driving in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem or Cumberland County, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule a free consultation.

If you are looking for more information on New Jersey's drunk driving law, then download my free book, How Much Trouble Am I In? A Guide to New Jersey Drunk Driving Law.

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Steven J. Richardson
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Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.