I started Insurance Blog by Chris™ because I have a passion for insurance. Here at the blog, our job is to educate and inform people about the best insurance for them. Since then, we have grown into national brands with a large team of researchers helping people understand all forms of insurance.

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insu...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

UPDATED: Apr 4, 2022

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Here's the Scoop

  • DWI is stands for driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired
  • DUI is stands for driving under the influence
  • DUIs and DWIs are interchangeable in many states, but you could face serious legal consequences if charged with either 

It doesn’t matter where you live in the United States; driving while under the effects of drugs or alcohol is illegal, and there are no excuses that permit it. If you’re caught on the road while intoxicated, you’ll probably get a DUI or DWI and could face some severe fines and charges.

What is a DUI? DUI stands for driving under the influence. DWI means driving while intoxicated. It’s very easy to get DUI and DWI confused, and, in some states, they’re interchangeable, so let’s take a closer look at the differences between DUIs and DWIs. 

Understanding the Difference Between DUI vs. DWI

In many states, DUI and DWI charges are almost interchangeable. Both describe an individual operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both. Drugs can be anything from over-the-counter medication and prescription drugs to illegal substances. Anything that can impact the way you drive can lead to a DWI or DUI charge.

Several states have different charges for driving under the influence or while intoxicated. In Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan, they use OUI, which stands for operating under the influence. Maine and Massachusetts use OWI or operate while intoxicated.

To get a DUI or a DWI (or OUI or OWI), you’ll most likely be pulled over by a police officer. The officer will give you several tests to determine your sobriety and even have you perform a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer calculates your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The legal limit for BAC is .08% in every state except Utah, which has a legal limit of .05%. If your test exceeds these percentages, you’ll face DUI charges.

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Are there any exceptions to DUI laws?

For certain drivers, there are different standards when it comes to DUI and DWI laws. Commercial drivers can face DUI charges if their BAC is .04% or higher. A commercial driver is someone who drives a vehicle of 16 passengers or more, a vehicle carrying hazardous materials, or a vehicle weighing 26,001 or more pounds.

On the other hand, when it comes to drivers under 21, every state has a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving. Since the legal drinking age in the United States is 21, an underage driver can get a DUI for having a BAC of more than .02%. Not only will they face drunk driving charges, but they’ll likely face penalties for underage drinking.

Penalties for DUI and DWI by State

Although the legal limit for alcohol is the same in almost every state, the penalties for first, second, and third DUI offenses vary by state. Getting a DUI can result in a suspended driver’s license, fines, and even jail time. Take a look at the table below to determine the punishments for DWI charges in your state.

StateFirst OffenseSecond OffenseThird Offense
Alabama90-day license suspension or up to a year in jail, up to $2,100 in fines. Minimum 45-day license suspension, up to a year in jail, and up to $5,100 in fines Up to a year license suspension, up to one year in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines
Alaska 90-day license suspension, 72 hours in prison, and a minimum fine of $1,500 Suspended license for one year, 20 days in jail, and a minimum of $3,000 in fines License suspended for a minimum of three years, and a minimum of 60 days in jail
ArizonaUp to 10 days in jail and a minimum $250 fine Up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine Four-month minimum prison sentence and $750 fine
ArkansasSix-month license suspension, up to a year in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines Alcohol treatment, two-year-license suspension, up to a year in prison, and up to $3,000 in fines Felony charges
California DUI school, six-month license suspension, up to six months in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines DUI school, one-year license suspension, up to a year in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines Traffic school, two-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $1,500 in fines
Colorado DMV points, mandatory community service, nine-month suspended license, up to a year in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines DMV points, community service, one-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $1,500 in fines DMV points, community service, two-year license suspension, up to a year in jail, and up to $1,500 in fines
ConnecticutUp to a year in jail and fines up to $1,000 Up to two years in prison and up to $1,000 in fines Up to three years in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines
Delaware Up to two-year license suspension, up to a year in jail, and up to $1,500 in fines Up to 30-month license suspension, 18 months in jail minimum, and a minimum fine of $2,500 Up to 30-month license suspension, minimum 18 months in prison, and a minimum of $2,500 in fines
District of Columbia Up to six-month license suspension, up to 180 days in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines Up to one-year suspended license, up to 180 days in jail, and up to $5,000 in fines Up to two-year license suspension, up to one year jail time, and up to $10,000 in fines
Florida Up to three-year license suspension, up to six months of prison, and up to $1,000 in fines Up to five-year suspended license, up to nine months in jail, and up to $2,000 in fines Up to 10-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $5,000 in fines
GeorgiaCommunity service, possibly suspended license, up to 10 days in jail, and a minimum of $300 in fines Community service, one-year license suspension, and a minimum of $1,000 in fines Community service, five-year license suspension, and a minimum fine of $5,000
Hawaii Community service, rehab, one-year license suspension, up to five days in jail, and a minimum of $1,000 in fines Community service, rehab, three-year license suspension, up to 30 days in jail, and a minimum of $3,000 in fines Community service, rehab, up to five-year license suspension, minimum 10 days in jail, and a minimum of $5,000 in fines
IdahoThree-month license suspension, up to a year in prison, and a minimum of $1,000 in fines One-year license suspension, up to five years in jail, and $2,000 minimum in fines Up to five-year license suspension, up to 10 years in jail, and up to $5,000 in fines
IllinoisCommunity service, one-year license suspension, a maximum sentence of one year in jail, and a maximum of $2,500 in fines Community service, five-year license suspension, maximum one-year prison sentence, and a maximum of $2,500 in fines Community service, 10-year license suspension, seven years in jail, and a maximum $25,000 in fines
IndianaUp to 180-day license suspension, up to one year in prison, and up to $5,000 in fines Up to two-year license suspension, up to three years in jail, and up to $10,000 in fines Up to 10-year license suspension, up to three years in jail, and up to $10,000 in fines
IowaUp to one-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $1,250 in fines Up to two-year license suspension, up to two years in jail, and up to $6,250 in fines Up to six-year license suspension, up to five years in jail, and up to $9,375 in fines
KansasAlcohol treatment, 90-day license suspension, up to two days in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines Alcohol treatment, one-year license suspension, and up to $1,500 in fines Alcohol treatment, one-year license suspension, and up to $2,500 in fines
KentuckyRehab, community service, 120-day license suspension, up to 30 days in prison, and up to $500 in fines Rehab, community service, 18-month license suspension, up to six months in jail, and up to $500 in fines Rehab, community service, 36-month license suspension, up to one year in prison, and up to $1,000 in fines
Louisiana Rehab, community service, up to six months in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines Rehab, community service, up to six months in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines Rehab, community service, up to five years in jail, and up to $2,000 in fines
Maine150-day license suspension, and up to $500 in fines Up to three-year license suspension, up to 12 days in prison, and up to $900 in fines Up to six-year license suspension, up to 40 days in jail, and up to $1,400 in fines
MarylandUp to six-month license suspension, up to a year in prison, and up to $1,000 in fines Up to one-year license suspension, up to two years in jail, and up to $2,000 in fines Up to one-year license suspension, up to five years in prison, and up to $5,000 in fines
MassachusettsUp to 90-day license suspension, up to two-and-a-half years in jail, and up to $5,000 in fines Up to two-year license suspension, up to two-and-a-half years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines Up to eight-year license suspension, up to two-and-a-half years in jail, and up to $15,000 in fines
Michigan Community service, up to 93 days in jail, and up to $500 in fines Community service, up to one year in prison, and up to $1,000 in fines Community service, up to five years in jail, and up to $5,000 in fines
MinnesotaUp to one year in jail and up to $3,000 in fines Up to one year in jail, and up to $3,000 in fines Up to seven years in jail for felony and up to $14,000 in fines
MississippiDriver’s education course, up to one-year license suspension, up to 48 hours in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines Rehab, community service, up to two-year license suspension, up to one year in prison, and up to $1,500 in fines Community service, up to five-year license suspension, up to five years in jail, and up to $5,000 in fines
MissouriUp to 30-day license suspension, up to six months in prison, and up to $1,000 in fines Up to five-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $2,000 in fines Up to 10-year license suspension, up to four years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines
MontanaDriver’s education course, rehab, up to six-month license suspension, up to six months in prison, and up to $1,000 in fines Driver’s education course, rehab, up to one-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines Driver’s education course, rehab, up to one-year license suspension, up to one year in prison, and up to $5,000 in fines
NebraskaUp to six-month license suspension, up to 60 days in jail, and up to $500 in fines Up to 18-month license suspension, up to 180 days in prison, and up to $500 in fines Up to 15-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines
NevadaMinimum of 185-day license suspension, up to 180 days in prison, and up to $400 in fines One-year license suspension, up to 180 days in jail, and up to $750 in fines Three-year license suspension, up to six years in prison, and up to $2,000 in fines
New Hampshire Two-year license suspension, and up to $1,200 in fines Three-year license suspension, up to a year in jail, and up to $2,000 in fines Lifetime license suspension, up to a year in jail, and up to $2,000 in fines
New Jersey Driver’s education course, community service, three-month minimum license suspension, up to 30 days in jail, and up to $500 in fines Driver’s education course, community service, minimum two-year license suspension, up to 90 days in prison, and up to $1,000 in fines Driver’s education course, community service, minimum 10-year license suspension, up to 180 days in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines
New Mexico Community service, up to 90 days of jail time, and up to $500 in fines Community service, up to 364 days in prison, and up to $1,000 in fines Community service, up to 364 days in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines
New York Minimum one-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $2,500 in fines Minimum 18-month license suspension, up to four years in jail, and up to $5,000 in fines Minimum 19-month license suspension, up to seven years in jail, and up to $10,000 in fines
North Carolina Level-based Level-based Level-based
North Dakota Rehab, community service, minimum three-month license suspension, up to two days in prison, and up to $750 in fines Rehab, community service, minimum one-year license suspension, up to 10 days in jail, and up to $1,500 in fines Rehab, community service, minimum one-year license suspension, up to 120 days in jail, and up to $2,000 in fines
OhioUp to three-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $1,075 in fines Up to seven-year license suspension, up to six months in prison, and up to $1,625 in fines Up to 12-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $2,750 in fines
OklahomaUp to 180-day license suspension, up to a year in prison, and up to $1,000 in fines Up to one-year license suspension, up to five years in jail, and up to $2,500 in fines Up to three-year license suspension, up to 10 years in prison, and up to $5,000 in fines
OregonUp to one-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $6,250 in fines Up to three-year license suspension, up to one year in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines Up to permanent license suspension, up to five years in jail, and up to $125,000 in fines
Pennsylvania Up to one-year license suspension, up to six months in jail, and up to $5,000 in fines Up to 18-month license suspension, up to five years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines Up to 18-month license suspension, up to five years in jail, and up to $10,000 in fines
Rhode Island Rehab, community service, up to one-year license suspension, up to one year in prison, and more than $1,200 in fines Rehab, community service, up to two-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and over $1,750 in fines Rehab, community service, up to three-year license suspension, up to five years in prison, and more than $5,000 in fines
South Carolina Up to six-month license suspension, up to 90 days in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines Up to one-year license suspension, up to three years in prison, and up to $6,500 in fines Up to four-year license suspension, up to five years in jail, and up to $10,000 in fines
South Dakota Up to one-year license suspension, up to one year in prison, and up to $2,000 in fines Minimum of one-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $2,000 in fines Minimum of one-year license suspension, up to two years in jail, and up to $4,000 in fines
TennesseeUp to one-year license suspension, up to seven days in jail, and up to $1,500 in fines Up to two-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $3,500 in fine Up to 10-year license suspension, up to one year in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines
TexasUp to one-year license suspension, up to six months in prison, and up to $4,000 in fines Up to two-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $4,000 in fines Up to two-year license suspension, up to 10 years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines
UtahUp to 120-day license suspension, up to 180 days in jail, and up to $1,310 in fines Up to two-year license suspension, up to 10 days in jail, and up to $1,560 in fines Up to two-year suspension, up to five years in prison, and up to $2,580 in fines
VermontUp to two years in jail and up to $750 in fines Up to two years in prison and up to $1,500 in fines Up to five years in jail and up to $2,500 in fines
VirginiaOne-year license suspension, up to one year in prison, and up to $2,500 in fines Three-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $2,500 in fines Varying license suspension, up to 180 days in prison, and up to $2,500 in fines
WashingtonRehab, up to two-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $5,000 in fines Rehab, up to three-year license suspension, up to one year in jail, and up to $5,000 in fines Rehab, up to four-year license suspension, up to one year in prison, and up to $5,000 in fines
West Virginia Up to six-month license suspension, up to six months in prison, and up to $1,000 in fines 10-year license suspension, up to one year in prison, and up to $3,000 in fines Permanent license suspension, up to five years in jail, and up to $5,000 in fines
WisconsinUp to $300 in fines Up to six months in jail and up to $1,100 in fines Up to one year in prison and up to $2,000 in fines
Wyoming 90-day license suspension, up to six months in jail, and up to $750 in fines Up to one-year license suspension, up to six months in prison, and up to $750 in fines Up to three-year license suspension, up to six months in jail, and up to $3,000 in fines
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Will a DUI raise my insurance rates?

Unfortunately, your insurance rates will go up when you get a DUI or a DWI, which includes life insurance rates in addition to auto insurance. Sometimes, your insurance company might even drop you from the plan. Be prepared to pay more money each month if you get caught driving under the influence. If you live in a certain state, you might even have to purchase SR-22 insurance. An SR-22 is required for high-risk drivers, and it’s an endorsement from your insurance company.