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What is the difference between DUI and DWI?

View from the interior of a dark car as a person is driving. Oncoming traffic can be seen but it is blurred.
Photo by Stephan Geyer/Getty Images
View from the interior of a dark car as a person is driving. Oncoming traffic can be seen but it is blurred.
Photo by Stephan Geyer/Getty Images
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There are key differences between a DUI and DWI and penalties for each depend on the state in which it appears on your record. A DWI refers to driving while intoxicated, while a DUI means driving under the influence, and these can mean very different things depending on where each occurs. However, whether a driver receives a DUI or a DWI charge, the damage to their driving record is likely to be similar.

Every 45 minutes, a person is killed in an alcohol-related highway accident. Even more sobering: although DUI and DWI arrest rates decreased nearly 30 percent nationally from 2010 to 2019 according to FBI data, they still outweigh the total number of violent crime arrests for the same time period.

Defining DUI vs. DWI

DUIs and DWIs have slightly different meanings: A DUI refers to driving under the influence, while a DWI means driving while intoxicated or impaired. With a DUI, the charge could mean that the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It’s important to note that the drugs do not need to be illicit. Prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs can also lead to a DUI charge if the person becomes impaired as a result of taking them.

Whether a person is charged with either a DUI or DWI is ultimately determined by the state in which the incident occurred and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits set. DUI and DWI cases vary from state to state. In fact, some states use different terminology entirely to charge an individual who has operated a motor vehicle while intoxicated. You should be familiar with the driving laws in your state to ensure that you drive in accordance with the legal limits at all times.

Whether you’re charged with a DUI or a DWI, the charge only arises in a situation where a law enforcement officer proves you were too impaired to drive.

OUI vs. OWI

In some states, drivers may be charged with either an OUI or OWI. An OUI means operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor, while an OWI means operating while intoxicated. Currently, there are five states that use such terminology when charging drivers with related offenses:

  • Indiana: OWI
  • Iowa: OWI
  • Maine: OUI
  • Massachusetts: OUI
  • Michigan: OWI

OWVI and DUAC

Certain states may charge drivers with an OWVI or DUAC. An OWVI means operating while visibly impaired and DUAC is driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration.

In Michigan, you can be charged with an OWVI if you are visibly impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance and try to operate a motor vehicle. In South Carolina, the term DUAC is used in place of DWI. South Carolina drivers with a BAC above 0.08% could be charged with a DUAC.

State-by-state differences

The ramifications for receiving a DUI or DWI vary from state to state. In fact, the legal limit for intoxication can be significantly different depending on the state in which you live. For example, while most states will issue a DUI charge if the driver has a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level higher than 0.08 percent, Utah will issue a DUI if the driver’s BAC is higher than 0.05 percent. Additionally, in many states, penalties can often increase if your BAC is at least 0.15 percent.

In many cases, a DUI or DWI offense will result in license suspension and mandatory alcohol education and treatment. License suspension terms vary depending on the state in which you live and whether or not it’s your first, second or third offense. For example, if you receive a DUI in Alaska and it’s your first offense, you could receive up to a 90-day license suspension, while in Connecticut, the same charge could result in a one-year license suspension. Depending on where you live, you may even have your vehicle confiscated or an ignition interlock device installed.

State Type First offense Second offense Subsequent offenses
Alabama DUI Up to $2,100 in fines, up to a year in jail, 90-day license suspension and/or 90-day vehicle ignition interlock Up to $5,100 in fines, up to a year in jail, 45-day minimum license suspension, and two-year vehicle ignition interlock Up to $10,100 in fines, up to 10 years in jail, up to a five-year license revocation, and four-year vehicle ignition interlock
Alaska DUI $1,500 minimum fine, 72 hours in jail, and minimum 90-day license suspension 20-day imprisonment, minimum $3,000 fine, and license suspension for minimum of one year
(within 15 years of the first DUI)
60-day imprisonment, minimum $4,000 fine, and license suspension for minimum of three years
(within 15 years of the second DUI)
Arizona DUI Minimum $1,250 fine and minimum 10 days in jail $3,000 base fine, minimum 90 days in jail, minimum one-year license suspension and required vehicle ignition interlock Minimum $3,000 fine, 90 days in jail, one-year license suspension
Arkansas DUI, DWI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to a year in jail or community service, six-month license suspension and vehicle ignition interlock, and alcohol treatment Up to $3,000 in fines, up to a year in jail, two-year license suspension, and alcohol treatment and vehicle ignition interlock Up to $5,000 fine, minimum 90 days in jail, alcohol treatment and vehicle ignition interlock
California DUI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to six months in jail, six-month license suspension, and DUI school Up to $1,000 in fines, up to a year in jail, one-year license suspension, and DUI school or SB 38 Up to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, two years license suspension, and DUI school
Colorado DUI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, nine-month license suspension, community service, and DMV points Up to $1,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, one-year license suspension, community service, and DMV points Up to $1,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, two-year license suspension, community service, and DMV points
Connecticut DUI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to six months in prison, 100 hours of community service, 45 days license suspension and one-year vehicle ignition interlock Up to $4,000 in fines; up to two years in prison, 100 days of community service, up to 45 days license suspension, and three-year vehicle ignition interlock Up to $8,000 in fines; up to three years in prison, and revoked license — eligible for reinstatement after two years
Delaware DUI $1,500 minimum fine, up to one year in jail, and up to two years license suspension $2,500 minimum fine, minimum 18 months in jail, and up to 30 months license suspension $2,500 minimum fine, minimum 18 months in jail, and up to 30 months license suspension
District of Columbia DUI, DWI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, and up to six months license suspension Up to $5,000 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, and up to one-year license suspension Up to $10,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, and up to two years license suspension
Florida DUI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to six months in jail, and up to six months license suspension Up to $2,000 in fines, up to nine months in jail, and up to one-year license suspension Minimum $2,000 in fines, up to five years in jail, one-year license suspension, and potential permanent license revocation
Georgia DUI Minimum $300 in fines, up to 10 days in jail, possible license suspension, community service Up to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, one year license suspension, 30 days of community service and vehicle ignition interlock Up to $5,000 in fines, up to five years in jail, up to 10 years license suspension, community service and vehicle ignition interlock
Hawaii DUI, DWI Minimum $1,000 in fines, up to five days in jail, one-year license suspension, community service, rehab Minimum $3,000 in fines, up to 30 days in jail, three years license suspension, community service, rehab Minimum $5,000 in fines, minimum 10 days in jail, up to five years license suspension, community service, rehab
Idaho DUI Minimum $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, three-month license suspension Minimum $2,000 in fines, up to five years in jail, one-year license suspension Up to $5,000 in fines, up to 10 years in jail, up to five years license suspension
Illinois DUI Maximum $2,500 in fines, maximum one year in jail, one-year license suspension, community service Maximum $2,500 in fines, maximum one year in jail, five years license suspension, community service Maximum $25,000 in fines, maximum seven years in jail, 10 years license suspension, community service
Indiana DUI Up to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, and up to six months license suspension Up to $10,000 in fines, up to three years in jail, and up to two years license suspension Up to $10,000 in fines, up to three years in jail, and up to 10 years license suspension
Iowa DUI, DWI, OWI Up to $1,250 in fines, up to one year in jail, and up to six months license revocation Up to $6,250 in fines, up to two years in jail, up to one-year license revocation, and up to one-year vehicle ignition interlock Up to $9,375 in fines, up to five years in jail, up to six years license revocation, and up to one-year vehicle ignition interlock
Kansas DUI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to two days in jail or 100 hours community service, 30-day license suspension, and alcohol treatment Up to $1,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, one year license suspension, one-year vehicle ignition interlock, and alcohol treatment Up to $2,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, one year license suspension, one-year vehicle ignition interlock, and alcohol treatment
Kentucky DUI, DWI Up to $500 in fines, up to 30 days in jail, 120-day license suspension, community service, rehab Up to $500 in fines, up to six months in jail, 18-month license suspension, community service, rehab Up to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, 36-month license suspension, community service, rehab
Louisiana DUI, DWI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to six months in jail, community service, rehab Up to $1,000 in fines, up to six months in jail, community service, rehab Up to $2,000 in fines, up to five years in jail, community service, rehab
Maine DUI, DWI Up to $500 in fines and up to 150 days license suspension Up to $900 in fines, 12 days in jail, and up to three years license suspension Up to $1,400 in fines, up to 40 days in jail, and up to six years license suspension
Maryland DUI, DWI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, and up to six months license suspension Up to $2,000 in fines, up to two years in jail, and up to one year license suspension Up to $5,000 in fines, up to five years in jail, and up to one year license suspension
Massachusetts DUI Up to $5,000 in fines, up to 2.5 years in jail, and up to 90 day license suspension Up to $10,000 in fines, up to 2.5 years in jail, and up to two years license suspension Up to $15,000 in fines, up to 2.5 years in jail, and up to eight years license suspension
Michigan OWI, OWVI Up to $500 in fines, up to 93 days in jail, community service Up to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, community service Up to $5,000 in fines, up to five years in jail, community service
Minnesota DUI Up to $3,000 in fines, up to one year in jail Up to $3,000 in fines, up to one year in jail Up to $14,000 in fines, up to seven years in jail for felony
Mississippi DUI, DWI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to two days in jail, up to one-year license suspension, and driver education Up to $1,500 in fines, up to six months in jail, and up to two years license suspension, community service, rehab Up to $5,000 in fines, up to five years in jail, and up to five-year license suspension, community service
Missouri DUI, DWI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to six months in jail, up to 30-day license suspension Up to $2,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to five years license suspension Up to $10,000 in fines, up to four years in jail, up to 10 years license suspension
Montana DUI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to six months in jail, up to six month license suspension, rehab, driver education Up to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to one-year license suspension, rehab, driver education Up to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to one year license suspension, rehab, driver education
Nebraska DUI, DWI Up to $500 in fines, up to 60 days in jail, up to six months license suspension Up to $500 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, up to 18 months license suspension Up to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to 15 years license suspension
Nevada DUI, DWI Up to $400 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, minimum 185-day license suspension Up to $750 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, one-year license suspension Up to $2,000 in fines, up to six years in jail, three years license suspension
New Hampshire DUI, DWI Up to $1.200 in fines, minimum two years license suspension Up to $2,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, minimum three years license suspension Up to $2,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, lifetime license suspension
New Jersey DUI, DWI Up to $500 in fines, up to 30 days in jail, minimum three months license suspension, driver education, community service, and vehicle ignition interlock Up to $1,000 in fines, up to 90 days in jail, minimum two years license suspension, driver education, community service, and vehicle ignition interlock Up to $1,000 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, minimum 10-year license suspension, driver education, community service, and vehicle ignition interlock
New Mexico DUI, DWI Up to $500 in fines, up to 90 days in jail, community service Up to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, community service Up to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, community service
New York DUI Up to $2,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, minimum one-year license suspension Up to $5,000 in fines, up to four years in jail, minimum 18-month license suspension Up to $10,000 in fines, up to seven years in jail, minimum 19-month license suspension
North Carolina DUI, DWI Level-based Level-based Level-based
North Dakota DUI, DWI Up to $750 in fines, up to two days in jail, minimum three months license suspension, community service, rehab Up to $1,500 in fines, up to 10 days in jail, minimum one-year license suspension, community service, rehab Up to $2,000 in fines, up to 120 days in jail, minimum one-year license suspension, community service, rehab
Ohio DUI, DWI Up to $1,075 in fines, up to six months in jail, up to three years license suspension Up to $1,625 in fines, up to six months in jail, up to seven years license suspension Up to $2,750 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to 12 years license suspension
Oklahoma DUI, DWI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to 180 days license suspension Up to $2,500 in fines, up to five years in jail, up to one-year license suspension Up to $5,000 in fines, up to 10 years in jail, up to three years license suspension
Oregon DUI, DWI Up to $6,250 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to one-year license suspension Up to $10,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to three years license suspension Up to $125,000 in fines, up to five years in jail, up to permanent license suspension
Pennsylvania DUI Up to $5,000 in fines, up to six months in jail, up to one-year license suspension Up to $10,000 in fines, up to five years in jail, up to 18 months license suspension Up to $10,000 in fines, up to five years in jail, up to 18 months license suspension
Rhode Island DUI Over $1,200 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to one-year license suspension, community service, rehab Over $1,750 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to two years license suspension, community service, rehab Over $5,000 in fines, up to five years in jail, up to three years license suspension, community service, rehab
South Carolina DUI, DUAC Up to $1,000 in fines, up to 90 days in jail, six-month license suspension, vehicle ignition interlock for six months Up to $6,500 in fines, up to three years in jail, up to one-year license suspension, vehicle ignition interlock for two years Up to $10,000 in fines, up to five years in jail, up to four years license suspension, vehicle ignition interlock for three years
South Dakota DUI, DWI Up to $2,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to one-year license suspension Up to $2,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, minimum one-year license suspension Up to $4,000 in fines, up to two years in jail, minimum one-year license suspension
Tennessee DUI Up to $1,500 in fines, up to seven days in jail, up to one-year license suspension Up to $3,500 in fines, up to nearly one year in jail, up to two years license suspension Up to $10,000 in fines, up to nearly one year in jail, up to 10 year license suspension
Texas DUI, DWI Up to $2,000 in fines, up to six months in jail, up to one-year license suspension Up to $4,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to two years license suspension Up to $10,000 in fines, up to 10 years in jail, up to two years license suspension
Utah DUI, DWI Up to $1,310 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, up to 120 day license suspension Up to $1,560 in fines, up to 10 days in jail, up to two year license suspension Up to $2,580 in fines, up to five years in jail, up to two years license suspension
Vermont DUI, DWI Up to $750 in fines, up to two years in jail Up to $1,500 in fines, up to two years in jail Up to $2,500 in fines, up to five years in jail
Virginia DUI, DWI Up to $2,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, one-year license suspension Up to $2,500 in fines up to one year in jail, three years license suspension Up to $2,500 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, indefinite license suspension
Washington DUI Up to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to two years license suspension, rehab Up to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to three years license suspension, rehab Up to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to four years license suspension, rehab
West Virginia DUI Up to $1,000 in fines, up to six months in jail, up to six months license suspension Up to $3,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, 10-year license suspension, and minimum six months vehicle ignition interlock Up to $5,000 in fines, minimum 30 days in jail, and license revocation
Wisconsin OWI Up to $300 in fines, nine months license revocation Up to $1,100 in fines, up to six months in jail, and up to 18 months license revocation Minimum of $600 in fines, at least one year in jail, and at least two years license revocation
Wyoming DUI, DWI Up to $750 in fines, up to six months in jail, 90-day license suspension, and up to six months vehicle ignition interlock Up to $750 in fines, up to six months in jail, one-year license suspension and vehicle ignition interlock Up to $3,000 in fines, up to six months in jail, three-year license suspension, and two-year vehicle ignition interlock

Will DUIs and DWIs impact my insurance rates?

After you receive a DUI or DWI, your insurance rates will inevitably increase and in some cases, you may be dropped from your policy entirely, as some auto insurers will consider you high risk. How much your insurance premium increases largely depends on your insurance carrier. However, in most cases, your insurance rates will double or triple in price compared to what they were before.

Depending on your insurance carrier and/or your state’s requirements, you may be required to obtain an SR-22 after getting a DUI or DWI. An SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility that illustrates that you meet your state’s current car insurance requirements. These are usually required when drivers are seeking to reinstate their suspended license after being charged with a DUI or DWI.

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Written by
Carly Severino
Insurance Contributor
Carly Severino is a contributing insurance writer for Bankrate. With experience writing for Coverage.com, Reviews.com and TheSimpleDollar.com, she has covered a broad range of insurance products.
Edited by
Insurance Editor
Reviewed by
Director of corporate communications, Insurance Information Institute