The Difference Between DUI and DWI

Orlando, Florida residents often wonder about the differences between a DUI and DWI charge. Although both terms are used to refer to a serious traffic and criminal offense, they mean slightly different things. DUI stands for “driving under the influence” while DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.”

Different states generally use one term or the other in reference to someone who is driving while their faculties are impaired due to having alcohol, illegal or prescription medications in their system. In Florida, DUI is the standard term for driving under the influence of a substance. “DWI” is not legally used in this state; although in casual conversation, the terms are often used interchangeably.

What are the Laws Regarding DUI vs DWI?

All states in the United States have specific punishments for a DUI or DWI depending on which term the state utilizes in their DUI laws. Some states charge a person who is driving drunk or while on drugs with a DWI while states like Florida charge intoxicated drivers with a DUI.

The distinction in charges are often made based on the age, level of impairment and other circumstances. In addition, there is another term known as OUI or “operating under the influence” that is used by states that do not use DUI or DWI.

Generally, regardless of whether the charge is a DUI, DWI or OWI, the individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must be higher than the legal limit of 0.08. The defendant’s BAC along with other factors, such as past criminal history, will be considered when determining a sentence if the defendant is convicted of the charges. Additionally, those who test for an elevated BAC of 0.15 or higher face enhanced charges and penalties. Speak with a knowledgeable lawyer near you to discuss your Florida DUI charges before entering a plea.

DUI Charges in Florida

The penalties for a DUI in Florida are significant enough to impact a number of aspects of a person’s life, including:

  • Driving privileges
  • Housing opportunities
  • Education opportunities
  • Career opportunities

DUI charges are typically misdemeanor charges in Florida; however certain circumstances can lead to felony charges depending on the number of prior offenses, whether or not a person suffered severe bodily harm due to your drunk driving, or previous criminal history. Drivers from other states who get stopped in Florida for DUI can face very serious penalties. The following are all possible:

  • Jail time
  • Hefty fines
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • DUI school
  • License revocation
  • Ignition interlock device installation
  • Enrollment in an alcohol abuse program

If you face DUI charges in central Florida, you are urged to seek professional legal advice from a reputable Orlando DUI attorney immediately.


How an Orlando DUI Defense Attorney Can Help

Anyone who has been arrested on charges of a DUI in Orlando, Florida should immediately get in touch with a defense attorney who is skilled in the area of DUI. A lawyer will fight for the rights of their client and may come up with strong defenses that can either reduce the charges against them or even have them dropped altogether.

In addition, it’s important to avoid saying too much to the police after being arrested for a DUI. Speaking only when there is an attorney present is the wisest way to go. People have the right to avoid incriminating themselves and should always wait until they have received essential legal advice. You have the right to remain silent upon arrest and are advised to do so.

At The Umansky Law Firm, our team of DUI lawyers in central Florida hold over 100 years of combined criminal law experience. We have obtained favorable outcomes for many DUI cases. Call 407-228-3838 or contact us online for a free review of your DUI case.