Both DUI and DWI mean essentially the same thing in the sense that they both mean – driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs and they both mean a determination that a person is driving a motor vehicle while not legally capable of driving. The literal definition of the acronyms are: 1) Driving Under The Influence, and 2) Driving While Intoxicated or Impaired.
There is a nuance of difference between the acronyms DUI and DWI in that Driving Under the Influence means that a person’s blood alcohol level was at or under .08% at the time they were stopped, and, Driving While Intoxicated means that the persons blood alcohol level was at or higher than .08% at the time they were stopped.
The laws vary from state to state in terms of the penalty as it relates to the level of impairment. In some states a DUI is distinguished to be a punitively lesser charge than a DWI and depending upon factors such as whether or not a person is being charged with a first offense and whether or not the offender is remorseful, the offender may be able to have a DWI charge lowered to a DUI charge with a lesser fine or other penalty in court.
Public education and various other deterrents have been effective in reducing alcohol consumption related traffic fatalities over the years.
Some actions that have been found to be effective deterrents to drunk driving, include:
-Sending offenders to DWI, DUI or sobriety courts (also called wellness courts).
-Impounding or confiscating license plates
-Requiring the mandatory installation of devices that prevent a person from starting their vehicle when intoxicated, and, more effectively;
-Automatically revoking the offender’s driver’s license ,or, most effective, automatically both revoking their drivers license and giving them a mandatory jail sentence.
The decline in alcohol related traffic fatalities has been significantly high from 60% of all traffic fatalities in 1982 to 31% of all traffic fatalities in 2010. However, the fact remains that every single fatality or injury caused by drunk driving is preventable.
There are numerous recommended and socially responsible alternatives to risking other people’s lives or one’s own life due to the criminal act of getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle while alcohol or drug impaired. The alternative choices include staying in a hotel, staying overnight at the home of the friend who served the drinks, calling a taxi, planning for a designated driver, either one’s self, or a trusted friend.
Party hosts and bartenders also share responsibility for making safe decisions to stop serving drinks in ample time before the party is over, or the bar is closing to enable guests to become sober before leaving to drive.
There is always also the option of course, when none of these alternatives are available, to choose to not drink before driving.