One the most commonly asked questions in regards to drinking and driving is the difference between a DUI and a DWI. Both are acronyms that refer to the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence, while DWI is an acronym for Driving While Intoxicated. The terms are usually interchanged on a colloquial level, which further adds to the confusion as to their legal significance or meaning.
Because various states will have different traffic laws, many states will actually have a variation between what DUI and DWI mean in legal applications. In such a case, a DUI charge is usually considered to be the lesser charge between the two. Many states will use the DUI charge as way to indicate a lesser level of intoxication.
However, the determination as to what constitutes as a DUI and Driving While Intoxicated in relationship to the reported blood alcohol content levels may vary from state to state. In the state of New York, for example, a DWI charge is levied against person that has produced a 0.08% BAC reading. Readings of 0.07% and lower may be given a DUI charge instead. However, other states may have zero tolerance policies, in which case, the difference between DUI and DWI is moot, and there is no difference among the two. Therefore, it is important to check with the appropriate state laws in order to determine if there are any differences applied to the two terms.