An accident on the road can already be a devastating experience, and that can become even more true when the at-fault party is driving while intoxicated. A DUI is a serious charge, so if you or the other party in your accident case is facing one, it’s good to have an understanding of what the charge could mean for you.

What is a DUI? What is a DWI or DWAI?

These terms usually apply most directly to alcohol-related accidents and represent two levels of severity for intoxication-related offenses.

DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs. For an accident to be categorized as a DUI, the intoxicated driver must have a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.08%

DWI, more often DWAI, stands for Driving While Ability is Impaired. For an accident to be considered a DWAI, the intoxicated driver must have a blood alcohol content between 0.05% and 0.079%.

What is the Difference Between the Two?

While both acronyms refer to similar types of offenses, the important difference to note is the difference in severity. Because the blood alcohol content threshold for a DUI is higher, meaning the driver is more intoxicated, the penalties for getting a DUI are more severe.  For example, while a first-time DWAI offense might result in a fine of several hundred dollars and points on your driving record, a first-time DUI could lead to a $1000 dollar fine, license suspension, and up to a year in jail.

It’s also important to note that, as of 2015, recurrent DUI charges could become a felony offense, bringing with it even more, jail time. These charges do not go away over time, so even if there are decades between offenses, the fourth one is still a felony.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me With a DUI

If you have been injured in an accident involving an intoxicated driver, always contact a personal injury lawyer after you have received medical attention. Drunk driving accidents can be complex because they represent an incident that interacts with both criminal and civil law. This is important because while the criminal side is extremely important for maintaining justice and safety, the civil side of DUI cases is heavily invested in getting compensation and peace of mind for the victim. Let a highly trained personal injury lawyer navigate this side of your case for you so that you can get fair compensation for your pain and suffering.