Police officer approaching vehicle of drunk driver to illustrate the difference between DUI vs DWI

DUI vs. DWI: The Critical Differences

Driving under the influence threatens safety and presents legal challenges if it culminates in arrest. Many people need clarification about the differences between DUI and DWI and under what circumstances law enforcement issue these penalties. Thoroughly examining the nuances of DUI versus DWI is critical to understanding your legal case or that of a loved one. Furthermore, it can help you focus on getting substance use disorder treatment to achieve sobriety. 

If you or someone you know struggles with driving while intoxicated, Recovery Ranch can help. Our drug and alcohol detox center guides individuals with substance use disorders toward long-term sobriety and wellness. Call 1.844.876.7680 to learn how we can help you live a safer, healthier, more fulfilling life.

What’s the Difference Between DUI and DWI?

The primary difference between DUI vs. DWI is the substance used when arrested. For example, you can get a DUI if you drink over the legal limit of alcohol and drive. However, you may also receive a DUI for driving under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, LSD, or any other illicit substance affecting your vehicle’s ability. The penalties may vary, depending on the type of drug that was in use. By contrast, a DWI is strictly related to alcohol and does not refer to other substances. Breaking down the acronyms helps here: DUI means driving under the influence, while DWI means driving while intoxicated. 

Differences between DUI and DWI also depend on the arrest state. For instance, law enforcement in a specific region might issue a DUI instead of a DWI if a person drank significant volumes of alcohol before driving. 

DUI vs. DWI Penalties

When understanding the differences between DUI and DWI, you need to know that the penalties are often similar but slightly different. Punishment depends on the state or jurisdiction in which the offense occurred. Some areas have fairly relaxed penalties, while others are far stricter and require participation in addiction treatment programs. For example, DUI penalties in Tennessee include the following:

  • First offense – Includes a minimum of seven consecutive days in jail, depending on BAC level, one-year license revocation, a fine of $350 to $1,500, installation of an Ignition Interlock Device, and order to attend an alcohol and drug treatment program.
  • Second offense – In addition to the first offense penalties, the second offense requires a mandatory stay in jail from 29 days to 11 months. It also includes a mandatory fine of $600 to $3,500 and a two-year license revocation.
  • Third offense – Mandatory fines may increase to $10,000; license revocation is six years.

DUI sentences can be harsher. For example, some people may end up with more jail time due to possessing illegal drugs. Others may end up getting court-ordered rehab to manage their addiction. Typically, this situation occurs if a drug use evaluation finds that a person has a lengthy history of substance misuse and needs help to overcome this problem.

Court-Ordered Rehab May Be Necessary

Despite the differences between DUI vs. DWI, court-ordered rehab is often a factor in the penalty. This treatment option may be hard to accept, but when properly utilized can change your life for the better. A typical rehab program will:

  • Detoxify the body of all illicit substances
  • Address emotional and mental health conditions
  • Adjust behavioral concerns that may worsen substance use disorders
  • Provide aftercare treatments that help maintain sobriety
  • Find sober living facilities that keep a person focused on their treatment
  • Create support groups that ensure a person does not relapse

These many care options help individuals walk back from substance use and put them in a better frame of mind. As a result, you can take a step back, gauge how drugs have impacted your life, and regain the sobriety you deserve.

Start the Path to Recovery at The Ranch

If you or a loved one has experienced issues with driving under the influence, reach out to Recovery Ranch. We can tell you more about the differences between DUI and DWI offenses and get you into a treatment program that meets your unique needs. We’ll work with you to help you better understand your legal situation and assess addiction symptoms to provide customized care so you can overcome them. Contact us at 1.844.876.7680 today to get started on the path to recovery.

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