A DUI and a DWI are both serious offenses in Virginia, but it can be confusing to try to understand the differences between them. If you have been arrested for drunk driving, it is important to understand which offense you have been charged with and what it really means.
What Are the Differences Between a DUI and a DWI in Virginia?
People often use DUI and DWI interchangeably when discussing drunk driving. Practically speaking, these offenses are the same in terms of the punishment. However, they are defined differently, and what the prosecutor must prove to establish your guilt is different. Under Virginia law, they mean the following:
- DWI. DWI refers to driving while intoxicated. You can be charged with this if you drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, whether or not you appear intoxicated.
- DUI. This means driving under the influence of alcohol, and you can be charged with this offense no matter what your BAC content is if your alcohol consumption impairs your ability to drive.
What Are the Penalties for a DWI and a DUI in Virginia?
In some states, a DUI is a less serious offense than a DWI, but this is not the case in Virginia. These offenses are equally serious, and you face the same penalties. You could face these sentences for a first DWI or DUI offense:
- Jail sentence of up to 12 months, with a mandatory minimum sentence of five days if your BAC was at least 0.15 percent and 10 days if your BAC was .20 or higher
- Fine of between $250 and $2,500
- Driver’s license suspension for up to one year
If you were charged with a DUI or a DWI in Virginia, let our experienced criminal defense attorneys help you fight to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.