DWI’s and DUI’s

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States choose to classify DUI’s and DWI’s in either of these two ways for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated.

Driving while impaired has been quoted as well referring to driving when taking mood altering drugs. The action is a considered a very serious offense. The offender is putting other’s lives in extreme danger by his or her actions.

DUI/DWI Statistics & Consequences

  • 1 person every 52 minutes dies due to a drunk driving crash¹
  • Teen alcohol use kills more than 4,300 people each year – that is more than ALL illegal drugs combined²
  • 2 out of 3 people are involved in a drunk driving accident in their lifetime ³

The consequences are strong and harsh often not harsh enough. Conviction repercussions will follow the driver for the rest of their lives on record for any background search. DUI and DWI laws do vary from state to state. Points, suspension of license, revoking of the driver’s license for ever, jail or even a prison sentence are all on the list. Encourage everyone you know NOT to drink and drive. Get a designated driver or call a car service. Learn more in the following sections:

DUI Citations Classifications and Convictions in the U.S.

A DUI or DWI citation is a criminal charge even though initially it is assigned to the traffic division. When pulled over on suspicion of driving while impaired, the officer on the scene will ask the driver to take a sobriety test. Upon failing the test, the driver is then arrested and taken to jail along with issuing a ticket to the driver. The classification of DWI and DUI violation varies from state to state. Most states consider it a felony. A DUI or DWI will be considered a criminal offense because of the danger involved to the public’s safety. If found guilty there are many punishment options.

DUI and DWI Violations and Penalties

Violations and penalties for a DWI or DUI guilty ruling may vary but are always harsh. In most cases the defendant is stripped of the driver’s license with a suspension and fine. Repeat offenders face losing the license to drive with revocation which is forever and a fine and even time in jail or prison. DUI or DWI within a crash and or bodily harm or death has more severe punishment. Here is the basic breakdown by offense to follow:

1st DUI Offense

When charged with the offense for the very first time often states may be more lenient on punishment. It is still a very serious offense that the court may take-into-account. There are details to factor in. Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) that is on the borderline may receive the least punishment of suspended license and a fine. Whereas, an extremely high BAC will receive a fine, suspension and jail time. Refusing the on-site BAC test when pulled over receives an automatic suspended license. An attorney is suggested for any DUI or DWI charge.

2nd DUI Offense

The second DUI charge will be treated more sharply. On top of a stiff fine and license suspension, jail time of up to 6 months may be levied. After that probation may apply with completion of substance and alcohol abuse program and a community service schedule.  

3rd DUI Offense

Driving while intoxicated with a third offense gets even more complex. A third conviction will result in the driver’s license being revoked. High fines are placed and jail time. After prison, you will may be sent to a half way house for rehabilitation to be weaned back into society soberly. Probation will follow with drug and alcohol screening.

4th and 5th DUI Offenses

Past 3 DWI or DUI’s the offender is considered habitual and criminal charges most likely will be pending. Four or more DUI’s will bring higher fines, prison time, probation. Each judge and state will consider very severe punishment to charges over 3 times.

Drinking and Driving in the U.S.

DUI and DWI violations are a serious offense whether alcohol or other substances are the basis of the influence on the mind and body. Driving extends to any motorized vehicle be it car, truck, motorcycle, scooter or even motorized bicycle being driven while impaired. When substances like drugs or alcohol are in the bodies system, senses, judgement, reaction time, control, coherence and a full list of other mind and body functions are compromised. Without full control of these senses one cannot make the split-second decisions needed in an emergency or even routine driving conditions. Without the control of these faculties there is an extreme risk of life-altering behavior often resulting in serious injuries and fatalities. As previously quoted: “1 person every 52 minutes dies due to a drunk driving crash¹”.  Staggering figures knowing all of those deaths can be prevented.

Finding yourself charged with DUI in an auto collision resulting in a death will be considered a criminal charge due to loss of life. Life is lost affecting many friends and family and being the driver, your life is errantly altered forever. Worth thinking about before you grab those keys when you have alcohol in your system.

DUI Attorneys

Attorneys specialize in DUI and DWI representation. The attorney for legal representation for a DUI has built their practice knowing the laws and procedures to represent clients charged with such a serious offense. If you find yourself charged, it is best to seek out representation.

Hiring a DUI Attorney

It is important to seek out the best representation you can find and afford if charged with a DUI. Knowledgeable and experience will serve you better than going into a trial unprepared. A capable DUI attorney is sophisticated enough to examine a case and present the best possible defense for you.

What is an Open Container Law?

Open container laws deem the illegality of having an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the car while driving. The container does not necessarily have to be the driver’s beverage. The container may be a liquor bottle or wine bottle that has been opened previously that has a twist top or cork that has been closed.  Each state has their list of perimeters for the details for the open container law. This law is good to know about and be very careful not to be innocently caught up in.

Suspended Driver’s License Reinstatement

License suspension is for a limited time. A revoked license is indefinite timing. If you have had your license suspended with the loss of your driving privileges, after the designated time, you may apply for reinstatement. There is usually a set of requirements necessary to fulfill before getting your license back. Usually, substance abuse and defensive driving school will apply. Possibly community service was levied that you will have to present certified proof of completion. You may refer to your case online at your state DMV to get the information you need to qualify for reinstatement of your license.

Alcohol Awareness Courses

Many states will make mandatory that a DUI violator complete Alcohol Awareness Training. The class will cover the amounts of liquor and how it affects the body and brain along with the dangers and laws of driving with alcohol or drugs in your system. The Blood Alcohol Level limits chart is reviewed so the offender has full knowledge of what is considered legal and illegal amounts of alcohol.

SR-22 Insurance Explained

Charged and convicted of a DUI will bring changes to your car or vehicle insurance policy and future payments. If a judge has ordered an SR-22 certification, your insurer must file on your behalf to the state that you are insured. Certain states will also make a requirement that SR-22 drivers must pay their insurance in full at the time of insurance requests. Take Note: some states do not notify motorists they need to have an SR-22 form filed. It is up to the individual to inquire with the insurance company if it is necessary.

U.S. Laws on DUI Alcohol Limits

Each state sets its own DUI alcohol percentage limits. Blood Alcohol Limits (BAC) is the term referred to. 0.08 and up is the norm to be considered over the limit for over the age of 21. Under 21 most states use 0.02-0.04 as levels for considered over the limit.

Alcohol levels affect everyone differently depending on many factors. The weight of the person, type of alcohol consumed, food consumed before and during drinking, medications, the fatigue of the person and many other components will influence how alcohol affects each person.

Blood alcohol levels differ greatly for commercial drivers both on the road, on the water and in the air. Each company has policies set as well for employee behavior.

Hardship License in the case of DUI

DUI or DWI convictions resulting in suspended and or revoked licenses can pose a real hardship to some who drive for a living or have a long commute with no alternate options to get to a job. On occasion, a judge will allow for a ruling allowing a hardship driver’s license to be issued. A hardship license will allow very limited driving privileges clearly spelled out to a driver. Often to and from work and only activities necessary such as grocery shopping, doctor’s visits and to and from school are allowed. Stiffer violations will result if caught driving outside the parameters set.


1 Source: MADD. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, May 2014, DOT HS 812 013.

2 Sacks JJ, Gonzales KR, Botchery EE, Tomedi LE, Brewer RD. 2010 National and State Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption. Am J Prev Med 2015; 49(5):e73–e79.

3 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Traffic Safety Facts 2016: Alcohol-Impaired Driving.” Washington DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2017.