iStock_000000491381_LargeHave you been charged with a DUI? Or, perhaps you’ve received a ticket for a DWI? Do you know there are differences between these two charges? A DUI stands for “driving under the influence,” while DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” The offenses may sound alike, but in some states there are separate statutes for each crime.

If you live in a state that classifies a DUI and DWI separately, the DUI is the least serious of the two offenses. A DUI is charged when someone has a lesser degree of impairment than a DWI, in which a driver’s impairment level is determined through blood alcohol content at the time the person is arrested. In some situations, a state might accept a plea bargain for a DWI and a person could be granted a reduced charge of DUI.

There are certain criteria that must be met in order for a person to be given a reduced sentence. It’s up to the discretion of the prosecuting attorney and/or judge to decide if a reduced charge is satisfactory or not.

A person’s blood alcohol content, or BAC, will determine whether they are charged with a DUI or DWI. The BAC for these charges are both 0.08% for drivers aged 21 and older.  0.05% BAC may also be considered illegal in some states, if the driver is obviously impaired. For either charge, a driver under the age of 21 may have either a 0.02% BAC or no BAC in a state that observes a “Zero Tolerance” stance.

The legal drinking age all across America is 21. No matter what state you are in, if you’re not 21, you can’t legally buy or consume alcohol. The concept of “Zero Tolerance” laws for young people is based on a very simple concept, because it’s illegal to drink unless you’re 21, it also illegal for a young person to drive with any alcohol in their system.

Drinking and driving is a very serious offense and when a person is convicted, it can wind up costing thousands of dollars in legal fees, court costs, fines, alcohol education classes and much more.

The laws surrounding “Zero Tolerance” are tough, but that’s the idea! It doesn’t take much alcohol to be considered legally intoxicated. All it can take for a person to be considered legally intoxicated is just one drink, so it’s not worth it to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel.