The terms DWI and DUI are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they have somewhat different meanings and consequences throughout the United States. DWI refers to the act of driving while intoxicated and the term DUI means driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Both offenses are criminal in all 50 states. Therefore, if you are faced with a charge of DUI or DWI it is crucial that you understand the distinction your state makes between each violation as well as your rights and obligations.
Explanation of DUI vs. DWI in Washington
The distinction between Washington DWI vs DUI depends on the state’s criminal code. While each crime will land a driver in court, the penalties, fees, and fines vary greatly from location to location. If you are charged with driving drunk or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you should seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can explain your potential defenses to the charges against you.
What is a DUI?
A DUI is a criminal charge of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A driver may not be under the influence of illicit drugs and still may be charged with DUI. If the driver of a vehicle is impaired from taking prescription or over the counter drugs, they may be charged with a DUI. Whether the charge is DUI depends on the laws of the state you are driving in. A blood test or breath test that detects the level of alcohol or drugs in a body determines whether a person is under the influence of a substance, which is used as evidence of their crime.
What is a DWI?
A DWI is the criminal charge of driving while intoxicated or impaired. If a driver tests above the legal limit or is substance-impaired, they will face charges of DWI. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) legal limit varies by state. Whether the charge is DUI vs DWI in Washington depends on the laws of that state.
DUI & DWI Law in Washington
DUI and DWI are serious offenses in Washington. The penalties and consequences of a DWI or DUI conviction can be severe and long-lasting. Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol can end your life or the life of another person. It is never worth the risk.
If you find yourself charged with a DUI or DWI, it is vital that you know the law, the consequences of a conviction, and what defenses you may have to the charges. You should immediately speak to an experienced DWI lawyer to achieve the best outcome for your case.
How Do DUI & DWI Work in Washington?
While the laws vary, if a jurisdiction charges you with a DUI or DWI in Washington, you must appear in court. Your first appearance will likely be an arraignment hearing where you will need to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charges against you. If you plead not guilty, the court will set a trial date for the prosecutors to prove their case against you. You will have the opportunity to defend yourself against the prosecution’s claims at that time. If you are found guilty, a judge will sentence you according to the state’s laws. If you plead guilty, the judge will sentence you immediately, but hire a lawyer. It’s in your best interests.
The consequences of a DWI or DUI conviction can be devastating and long-term. It is important to take seriously a charge of DUI or DWI and to seek the advice of a good criminal defense attorney with experience in successfully defending clients against these charges.
What Are the Penalties for a DWI & DUI in Washington?
The penalties for a DWI and DUI in Washington will vary depending upon many factors, including the exact charges, the location of the offense, whether there was an accident that injured others, and the defendant’s criminal record. If convicted of a DWI or DUI, penalties may include:
- FInes and fees;
- Loss of driver’s license;
- Jail time.
Anyone charged with a DWI or DUI should seek the counsel of an experienced DWI or DUI attorney to understand the potential penalties if found guilty.
What to Do if You Get a DUI & DWI Fine
Should you get a DUI or DWI, promptly contact an attorney to guide you through the criminal process. If you receive a fine for a DUI or DWI offense, make arrangements to pay the fine within the time period ordered. Failing to pay a DUI or DWI fine could result in additional penalties including possible jail time. If you find yourself charged with a DUI or DWI, follow these steps:
- Seek the advice of an experienced attorney to understand the charges against you.
- Be completely honest with your attorney about what happened.
- Attend all court appearances and be prompt.
- If ordered to pay a fine, be sure you pay on time or make agreeable payment arrangements with the court.
Driving intoxicated or under the influence should never be an option. The risks to others and yourself are far too great. It is simply not worth the potential devastation that intoxicated or impaired driving, whether drugs or alcohol, you may cause by operating a vehicle.