DUI vs DWI: What’s the Difference?
If you hear that someone has been drinking and driving, you would most likely think of a DUI. However Oklahoma law has both a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and a Driving While Impaired (DWI), which are distinctly different charges, and have very different punishments if you are found guilty.
Here is a summary chart that explains the differences:
The Biggest Difference Between a DUI and DWI
The biggest difference between the two charges is that a DUI is a predicate offense, whereas a DWI is not. A predicate offense is a type of crime that doesn’t have a set punishment, but instead increases the punishment each time you are convicted of it.
As you can see from the chart above, the punishment increases with subsequent DUIs. Your first DUI is considered a misdemeanor and only carries one year in jail. However, your second and third DUI are felonies and carry more jail time. This contrasts with a DWI, where the punishment is the same no matter how many times you are charged with it.
While the technical punishment remains constant for a DWI, prior convictions will affect future plea offers. A prosecutor always looks at your criminal history when making a plea recommendation, and if they see that you have been committing the same crime over and over again, they will not be as lenient.
If I have marijuana in my system, is that a DUI or DWI?
The chart above only addresses the blood alcohol levels for a DUI and DWI, but driving under the influence of marijuana is incredibly common. Under Oklahoma law, any amount of a scheduled drug, including marijuana, is sufficient to prove intoxication. In other words, having any amount of drugs in your system is enough to prove a DUI. There is no such thing as a DWI with drugs.
While there is no official DWI drugs charge, you can potentially negotiate a plea offer with the prosecutor that will lower your charge from a DUI to a DWI. It is rare, but some counties have been lowering the DUI to a DWI at plea for marijuana card holders who do NOT show other signs of intoxication during the traffic stop.
If I get a DUI, am I going to jail?
The answer is, probably not. A year in jail is the maximum sentenceyou can receive for a DUI, and you will often be given a plea offer of probation in place of jail time for both a DUI and a DWI. The plea offer for a first time DUI is normally between 12 and 18 months, while a DWI is normally between 6 and 12 months. While you can be given jail time for a DUI, most prosecutors will not recommend it.
What is the difference between DUI and DWI probation?
There isn’t a huge difference between probation for a DUI or DWI. There are certain classes you are required to take by Oklahoma Statute for a DUI charge. These include a Victims Impact Panel (VIP), Drug and Alcohol Assessment (DAA), and DUI class (ADSAC). Since they are required by statute, you will NEVER get a plea offer from the state that excludes these classes.
The classes are not statutorily required for a DWI, so the State does not HAVE to include them on a plea. This doesn’t mean they won’t be, and often are, included in DWI plea offers, but there are some circumstances where they may not be.
The biggest difference between a DWI and DUI probation is the length of the probation period. A DWI will almost always result in a shorter probation period.
Another difference in probation is the community service hours. If you are offered a plea deal in one of the counties that requires community service, you will almost certainly have more community service hours with a DUI than a DWI.
If I have a prior DWI, will it affect my current DUI?
The answer to this question is both yes and no. A prior DWI conviction does not increase the maximum punishment you might receive for a DUI. The same can be said in the reverse. If you have a prior DUI, then get a DWI, your DWI will not be affected.
The reason the answer is a partial yes, however, is because prosecutors still consider those prior convictions when making plea offers. Having a prior may not increase your range of punishment, but it will certainly affect the offer you receive. For example, you are typically offered a deferred sentence for your first DUI. (A deferred sentence is a type of probation with an automatic partial expungement upon successful completion.)
However, if you have a prior DWI, the prosecutor will most likely only offer you a suspended sentence. This is a form of probation without an automatic expungement. This doesn’t mean you are precluded from getting an expungement in the future, but you will have to go through the full expungement process to obtain one.
Have you or a loved one been arrested for a DUI?
We know bad things happen to good people. Remember that a DUI arrest does not mean an automatic conviction, license revocation, or punishment. If you do find yourself accused of a crime, make sure that you hire a lawyer with extensive DUI experience to ensure your rights are protected. If you hire us, we will work with you to analyze every detail of your DUI case to minimize the impact it will have on you and your life. Contact us for a free consultation.