Difference between DWI & DUI in Virginia

Anytime you come across articles or news stories related to a person driving after drinking alcohol or being impaired by another substance in Virginia, you will likely hear a few phrases used interchangeably.

  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI)

Some people understandably get confused when they see these two phrases used for seemingly the same things. Some states are very specific when referring to driving under the influence charges and choose to use one of the terms exclusively. Here, the Virginia DWI and DUI defense attorneys at Randall Page, P.C. want to discuss what these two terms mean in Virginia and how they can affect you.

Differentiating between DUI and DWI

When we look at Virginia law, we can summarize DWI and DUI in the following ways:

  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI):┬áThis refers to a person operating a vehicle while intoxicated and if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or higher, regardless of whether or not a person appears to be impaired.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI):┬áThis refers to a person operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, and a person can face this charge regardless of what their blood alcohol content is, even if it is below .08% or if a BAC test is refused. So long as alcohol consumption impairs a person’s ability to drive, they can face DUI charges.

The penalties for DWI in DUI in Virginia

In some states around the country, DUI charges are considered a less serious offense than DWI. However, that is not the case in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Here, both DUI and DWI are equally serious, and a person charged could face the same penalties upon conviction. The following are the penalties for a DUI or DWI in Virginia:

First offense DUI or DWI

  • Up to 12 months in jail (usually no time for first-offense)
  • Fine ranging from $250 to $2,500
  • License suspension of one year
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) for a minimum of six months

Second offense DUI or DWI

  • Minimum 10 days but up to 12 months in jail
  • Fines ranging from $500 to $2,500
  • License suspension for three years
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) for a minimum of six months

Third offense DUI or DWI

  • Minimum 90 days but up to 5 years in jail
  • Fines ranging from $1,000 to $2,500
  • Indefinitely license suspension
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) for a minimum of six months

In addition to the penalties listed above, drivers charged with DUI or DWI in Virginia could face additional hardships when it comes to securing a job. DUI offenses will show up on a criminal background check, and many employers are not willing to take a chance on hiring somebody with these convictions on their record.

Contact an attorney for a free consultation of your case

If you or somebody you care about has been charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or another substance, contact a skilled defense attorney as soon as possible. At Randall Page, P.C., we have significant experience defending clients who are facing DUI and DWI charges. Our attorneys will conduct a complete investigation into the charges against you in an effort to get them reduced or dismissed altogether. When you need a Virginia DWI or DUI defense attorney, you can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or by calling 757-517-8956.

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