In our society, it’s common knowledge about what a DUI is and how it can affect your life. However, where there ends up being some confusion is the definition of the other types of DUI, because most people don’t know that there are other types. Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), and Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI); each one of these is functionally different, though the reasoning you get them is different.
DUI vs. DWI vs. DWAI
On the surface, the charge for a DUI or a DWI is considered the operation of a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other legal or illegal substances. A Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is the automatic qualifier for either of these charges. The difference between these two varies when discussing the actual punishments that you may face, as a DWI is considered more egregious than a DUI.
The odd charge in this grouping is a DWAI, as it’s not inherently considered an official criminal charge. In fact, it can be taken as a traffic violation or infraction, which puts it on the level of many other non-substance related charges. That isn’t to say that a DWAI is meaningless, but that it may not require legal action on your part. If you’re found with any impairment at the time of the incident, it’s the police officers discretion as to whether or not you can be charged with a DWAI. While this isn’t terribly common, it’s not impossible, and it’s worth paying attention to. Ultimately, DUI and DWI aren’t too dissimilar, but a DWAI can be quite the surprise to the unsuspecting driver.
Difference in Charges
As stated, there is a difference in the level of charge between a DUI and a DWI. In most states, there is a differentiation between the two, and in all of those cases, a DUI is considered the lesser of the two. This is because a DUI first offense is considered a misdemeanor, depending on the infraction. Contrary to this, a DWI is considered a felony, and therefore the charges are significantly higher than they would be as a standard DUI.
In the case of a DWAI, the charges are unique, but they can be on the level of a DUI. Traditionally speaking, a traffic violation isn’t viewed heavily in the system, and the penalties are much lower than they would be as a misdemeanor or felony. That being said, repeated charges can increase those penalties, and you can see a serious problem on your hands. In addition to the traffic infraction level of DWAI, there is a possibility for a DWAI felony. This is where you are found to be operating a vehicle while under the combination of drugs and alcohol, therein impairing your ability to operate. This is a much more severe crime that puts it on a level of a standard DUI.
Defenses to All Charges
Despite the varying differences between each type of DUI, there are some standard defense techniques that an experienced DUI attorney would be able to employ in order to reduce or remove your sentencing altogether.
- Defenses relating to “Driving”
- Defenses relating to the Arrest
- Challenging the Officer’s Testimony
In most cases, the aspect of driving is not debatable. After all, if you are pulled over, then there is little cause to say otherwise. However, if an officer is to approach you while you are parked or idle, then there is room for debate depending on the evidence.
Per your arrest, there are certain defenses that we can take, most notably the absence of probable cause, or the lack of issuing Miranda warnings. If you are pulled over without probable cause, then it is possible that you can keep any evidence obtained during the arrest from being admitted in trial. In addition, if the arresting officer fails to provide Miranda warnings, or speaks incorrectly when giving them, then you may be able to remove certain pieces of evidence at your trial.
Lastly, if the officer testifies to your behavior and there are others who can tell a different story, then they should be represented during your trial. It’s not uncommon for police officers to assume certain aspects of the incident, because not everything is made entirely clear. In these cases, with proper defense, you can actually have the testimony removed or altered in a way that will defend your charges.
In any case, a DUI, DWI, or DWAI is a serious offense and should not be taken lightly. A professional and experienced attorney should be hired to defend your case and help reduce or remove your charges altogether. The defense is there for you, and we may be able to spot something that you didn’t even know of.