DUI vs. DWI vs. OWI

Often, the first indication a driver has that he or she is about to be arrested for drunk driving is flashing lights in their rear view mirror. They might have been going a little fast, or rolled through a stop sign, or even had a burned out taillight that caught the attention of the police. They stop the person, begin to suspect he or she was drinking and driving and bam! That person is arrested.

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration says that most DUI arrests are first-time offenses. First-time offenders don’t know the legal process, the options they have for their defense, and the consequences they’re facing. Hiring an experienced DUI attorney is a good way to get help navigating this complex legal process.

Aren’t DUI and DWI the same thing?

Yes, they are, pretty much. Drunk driving is labeled different things in different states. Some call it OWI—Operating While Intoxicated/Operating While Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs. Some states call it DWI. This used to stand for Driving While Intoxicated, but has been changed to Driving While Impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Here in Pennsylvania, the correct term to use is DUI. DUI means Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs. The standards for DUI are the same in every state, despite the differences in the name of the offense. If you are stopped by the cops and your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or over, you can be arrested for and charged with DUI (or DWI or OWI in other states.) The consequences for a conviction are different in every state.

Pennsylvania has three DUI levels. They are based on BAC.

  • General Impairment: 0.08 percent to 0.099 percent BAC
  • High DUI: 0.10 percent to 0.159 percent BAC
  • Highest DUI: 0.16 percent BAC and above
  • The top two levels are often called “middle” and “high,” but they are officially “high” and “highest.”

Pennsylvania has other laws, as well, that sometimes surprise people, especially underage drinkers and first-time offenders. One is the Zero Tolerance Law, which says that drivers under 21 are not allowed to have any alcohol in their system at all, though the official legal limit is 0.02 percent.

DUI and Drugs

DUI can also mean “driving under the influence of drugs.” The procedures for arresting someone are different in this case than for alcohol, but many of the consequences are the same. For example, if an officer suspects a person has been drinking, he can request a breathalyzer, but there’s no breath test for drug use. A blood test is often the only way to test a person for driving while under the influence of drugs.

Someone can be charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs if one or more of the following is true:

  • There is a metabolite of a schedule 1 drug in the driver’s blood
  • The driver looks and acts like he is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs to the point where he cannot drive safely
  • There is any schedule 1 drug in the driver’s blood
  • The driver looks and acts like he is under the influence of one or more drugs to the point where he cannot drive safely

A metabolite is a chemical “signature” that says a drug was present in the blood.

Have you been stopped while driving and arrested for DUI? If so, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you, one who has handled many DUI cases. The Logue Criminal Defense team has defended hundreds of people arrested for DUI, including those arrested for Driving Under the Influence of drugs. Logue Law Group serves Pittsburgh, PA, West Virginia, and Ohio. Call today for a consultation. 1-844-PITT-DUI or (412) 389-0805. We may also be contacted online.

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