Throughout the United States it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (or concentration) of 0.08% or higher. However, many states also prohibit lower BACs and make a distinction between the various levels of intoxication. Some states penalize drivers with BACs as low as 0.05%. These states define separate violations for DUI, DWI, and other acronyms. DUI typically stands for ‘Driving Under the Influence,’ while DWI means ‘Driving While Impaired’ or ‘Driving While Intoxicated.’
Different Drunk Driving Offenses
Other terms used for driving while drinking or on drugs include OUI for ‘Operating Under the Influence (a vehicle),’ and OWI for ‘Operating While Intoxicated/Impaired (a vehicle).’ Some states also use DWAI – ‘Driving While Ability is Impaired by Alcohol or Drugs.’ To further complicate things, there are states that use DUI/DWI to distinguish between whether a driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In these states, DUI is usually applied towards driving under the influence of drugs. With all of these abbreviations used for impaired driving, it is important to recognize that in many states these delineations correlate with various degrees of punishment.
Is DUI the Same as DWI in New Jersey?
However, New Jersey makes no distinction between DUI and DWI, or any other acronym. Both labels mean that an individual is driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. However, NJ enforces tougher penalties for an incrementally higher BAC. For example, if you are convicted for a first offense of driving with a BAC of at least 0.08% but lower than 0.10%, you lose your driver’s license for 3 months, incur a fine between $250 and $400, and face various other penalties. But if your first offense resulted from a BAC of 0.10% or higher, the penalties increase – seven months to one year of license revocation and a fine between $300 and $500, in addition to the other penalties.
The Distinction Between DUI Charges
The biggest difference between states that make a distinction and states like New Jersey, that don’t, is the legal BAC level. States that make a distinction typically charge drivers with BAC’s lower than 0.08%. For example, in Colorado, you may be charged with a DWAI if your BAC measurement is only 0.05%. But, if you test at 0.08% you will be charged with DUI. In these states, it is sometimes possible to lower your DUI charge to the less serious violation charges, whereas, New Jersey allows no plea bargaining for drunk driving offenses. Contacting a reputable DWI lawyer at dwicounsel.org who has experience in handling DUI cases is your best defense and best hope for a more favorable outcome.