Is there a difference between DUI and DWI?

Most people have heard the acronyms DUI and DWI used interchangeably, leading to confusion and uncertainty about whether there is any actual difference between the two. If you’re seeking clarity on the matter, you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, the attorneys at Keith Oliver Criminal Law will delve into the details of DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) to help you better understand these legal terms.

What Are the Differences (If Any) Between DUI and DWI?

Some states may distinguish between DUI and DWI (or even OWI, operating while intoxicated), but in New Jersey, there is no difference between the terms. Indeed, the New Jersey laws on drunk driving refer to both driving while intoxicated and under the influence.

Can You Obtain Car Insurance After Receiving a DUI or DWI?

You can (and must) obtain car insurance after receiving a DUI or DWI, but it will cost you a lot. On average, a DUI conviction in New Jersey can increase your yearly auto insurance by 74 percent (from $1,592 to $2,773). Furthermore, New Jersey imposes a surcharge of $1,000 to $1,500 per year on your auto insurance for three years following a DUI conviction.

Will I Go to Jail If I Receive a DUI or DWI?

You can go to jail for a DWI conviction, but it’s up to the judge’s discretion. New Jersey law establishes the following jail times for DWI convictions:

  • For a 1st offense – up to 30 days in jail
  • For a 2nd offense – At least 48 consecutive hours up to 90 days
  • For a 3rd offense – 180 days (or fewer hours per day if the court decides) up to 90 days

How Long Do DUIs and DWIs Stay on Your Driving Record?

While a DWI conviction is a traffic offense rather than a criminal offense, it will stay on your driving record for the rest of your life. You cannot expunge a DUI from your New Jersey driving record.

What’s the Legal Limit for Blood-Alcohol Content?

In New Jersey, the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) while driving is 0.08 percent. BAC refers to the percentage of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream.

Drivers under age 21 cannot drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. Therefore, an underage driver with a BAC of 0.01 to 0.07 percent can also face a DUI charge.

What Happens If I Fail a Breathalyzer Test?

If you fail a breathalyzer test by registering a BAC of 0.08 or greater, law enforcement can place you under arrest and charge you with a DUI. You might be tempted to refuse a breathalyzer test, but this is a bad idea. The penalties for refusing a breathalyzer can include fines, license suspension, an ignition interlock device, and participation in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center program.

Contact Keith Oliver Criminal Law for Legal Representation

No matter what you call it, DWI or DUI consequences can be substantial, so you need to take this charge seriously. The attorneys at Keith Oliver Criminal Law can stand up for your rights and will fight for you. Contact our firm today for a confidential consultation.