It is the fourth largest killer in the United States, 300,000 people do it per day and only 2,800 people per day get arrested for it? What is it? Driving while impaired destroys lives. What is the difference between a DUI vs DWI from a legal standpoint? Does it really matter? An unfortunate common offense in the United States today is driving after consuming alcohol or other drugs that impair your cognitive and motor function skills.
Most of us have heard of a DUI before. It is a charge for driving under the influence. DWI stands for driving while intoxicated or sometimes driving while impaired. Other commonly used acronyms include OUI and OWI. An OUI is a charge for operating under the influence. Similarly, an OWI is a charge for individuals operating while intoxicated or impaired.
The distinction is, you can be operating a vehicle while it is parked if it is running. This means, if you pull over on the side of the road but are drunk, you can still be charged with a serious offense. Today we will discuss the distinctions of a DUI vs DWI, drinking, and driving and why it is a bad idea.
Drinking & Driving
Unfortunately, drinking and driving is legal in every state. Adults of the legal drinking age of 21 are allowed to have a BAC, or blood alcohol content, of less than 0.08. There is a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol in a minor's bloodstream, and a BAC of 0.04 can lead to a nationwide charge of DUI or DWI for drivers with a commercial driver's license.
Community Projects To Prevent Drunk Driving
Especially in the southeastern United States, police departments have specialized teams to prevent people from driving recklessly and several campaigns for the purpose of serving the same goal.
1. Georgia HEAT
Locally known as Handing Everybody A Ticket or Handing Everyone A Ticket, Georgia has a specialized highway patrol team of state troopers for Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic. You can tell these specialty highway patrol troopers by their light blue Chargers when regular law enforcement officers and state troopers drive white and silver Chargers.
2. SCHEAT or Target Zero Team
South Carolina also has a team of 24 highway troopers specialty trained to enforce safe driving. The slogan is "Target Zero: a project we can all live with." The "o" is the rotated waxing crescent moon to the left of the state tree, the palmetto tree. This project was implemented based on the Strategic Highway Safety Plan with input from both the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. These troopers work in 16 strategic corridors in four regions including Charleston, Summerville, West Ashley, and Myrtle Beach.
3. Project Zero
In 2015, South Carolina Highway Patrol implemented Project Zero, a project where state troopers go to high schools and teach teens about the importance of having identification in case of an accident, how important seat belts for your passengers are and ensuring peers drive only when they can safely do so. South Carolina is currently ranked third in the nation for adolescent deaths caused by distracted driving.
4. Traffic Safety Team
The Town of Cary, North Carolina developed the Traffic Safety Team in the 1980s because constituents determined that traffic safety was one of the most major factors impacting the quality of life. The team specifically detects and apprehends individuals driving while impaired, speeding and enforcing occupant protection, usage and enforcement. In other words, you will be ticketed if you are not wearing your seatbelt or your child is not in proper restraints. The team works very closely with other towns, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Governor's Highway Safety Program.
Besides specialty teams, many states have billboards, LED highway signs with current state fatality statistics for the year and television and radio advertisements.
- RideSmart is a campaign for motorcycles to look before merging often used in conjunction with advertisements for drivers to look out and listen for riders.
- Sober or Slammer, formerly Highways or Dieways: The Choice is Yours, is a campaign that has been going on for years now. There are both billboards and tv ads depicting buzzed driving on one half of the screen and drunk driving on the other. It is the exact same video played at the same time to illustrate that there is no difference between driving buzzed and driving drunk. These tv ads usually have a state trooper showing up at a widow's house waiting for her now deceased husband to come home for dinner or an individual in jail because he or she drove while buzzed.
Why it is a Bad Idea
Drinking and driving is a serious offense that risks the health and safety of yourself and others. This extends past alcohol as well. One common perception of DUI vs DWI is a DUI refers to alcohol while a DWI refers to recreational drugs. You can be charged, however, with a crime if you are driving under the influence of a legal prescription that impairs your ability to drive.
The statistics for drinking under the influence of alcohol and other drugs is sobering. In the United States alone, 29 people are killed per day due to drunk driving. That is one life stolen every 50 minutes because somebody made a selfish decision. A staggering 720 people per day or two people per minute are injured as a result of drunk driving collisions alone. Furthermore, 4,000 drivers are killed each year with drugs in their systems. This fact does not include those who died with drugs in their systems who were not tested or fatalities caused by drivers with drugs in their systems.
What's the Difference Between a DUI vs DWI?
You may wonder what is the difference between a DUI vs DWI. The short answer is, it depends. It depends on your location. As a general rule of thumb, driving under the influence refers to behavior while driving while intoxicated refers to a physical state. For example, if you blow a 0.079, you are within the legal limit to drive. However, if you cannot keep your car in your lane, a local law enforcement officer may pull you over and charge you with a DUI. If you are not impaired, but blow a 0.08 or higher after being pulled over for something else, such as a tag light that is out, you can still be charged for driving over the legal limit with a driving while intoxicated charge.
Here are some other charges common to various locations:
Driving while impaired by alcohol and other drugs such as recreational drugs and prescription drugs with side effects is a reckless and selfish act. Individuals who do this put not only their lives but the health and safety of innocent strangers at risk. The distinction of a DUI vs DWI varies from state to state, county to county and town to town. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, sometimes one carries a heavier penalty than the other, and sometimes one doesn't exist. However, despite the difference in legal ramifications, these are both bad ideas.
Fortunately for the safety of pedestrians and motorists around the country, states, towns and other regional government agencies are cracking down on impaired and reckless driving. They risk their lives implementing strategically placed and timed roadblocks to prevent people from driving while impaired. In some states, like Alabama, police officers will even drive you home and have your car towed for you to ensure the safety of everyone on the road is protected. They do this because voters have communicated that this is an issue worth spending taxpayer money on.
Unfortunately, accidents are the number four leading killer in the United States. Thousands of so-called accidents every year are preventable by defensive driving and not driving while impaired by alcohol or recreational drugs or within 24 hours of taking narcotics. Outside a regional legal standpoint, there is no difference between a DUI vs DWI. Only you can save lives. Don't drink and drive.