Many people use the acronyms DUI and DWI interchangeably. However, they’re not always equivalent. A DUI versus DWI and vice versa are important distinctions to make. DUI stands for ‘driving under the influence’. On the other hand, DWI stands for ‘driving while intoxicated’ or ‘driving while impaired.’ Depending on which state you get pulled over in, these terms could mean the same or different things.

DUI versus DWI: What are They?


When it comes to DUI versus DWI, there are differences and there are similarities. For instance, sometimes no matter what state you are in, both DuI and DWI mean that a driver is being charged with a serious offense. Each of these charges means the driver was exhibiting dangerous behavior while behind the wheel of a car. This can apply to both alcohol as well as drugs that can affect your ability to drive. These can be both recreational and prescription drugs, as long as they would impair your driving. 

In some states, both items cover the same thing, as the driver has endangered both themselves as well as others. Some states define a DWI as Driving While Intoxicated. In those instances, there is no difference between a DUI and DWI charge. Another similarity is that both of these charges can increase your car insurance rates. 


In the states that recognize these two options as separate charges, DWI generally refers to driving while impaired by drugs — either prescribed or recreational. Hence, driving while impaired. Therefore, when it comes to DUI versus DWI, DUI is related specifically to alcohol.

Other Acronyms 

To make things even more confusing, there are other acronyms besides just these two. For example, OUI stands for ‘operating under the influence’ in Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts. Additionally, DWAI stands for ‘driving while ability impaired’ in Colorado, and New York. In Hawaii, they have an OVUII for ‘operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant’. To add a few more into the mix, there is also OWI, OVI and DUII in several other states as well. In short, it’s not just DUI versus DWI, it’s DUI versus DWI, DWAI, OUI, OVI, OWI…. The list continues.

No matter where you are and no matter how they classify it, it is dangerous to be driving while impaired or intoxicated. You could be risking your own life as well as others around you. Get a ride share or have a designated driver, and definitely do not get behind the wheel of a car.