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What is the Difference Between DWI and DUI?

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DWI vs. DUI | New Orleans, LA Criminal Defense Attorney | Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias, LLCAs an experienced DWI attorney in New Orleans, Louisiana, I often see confusion within the state about drunken driving terminology. This is to be expected, as different states in the U.S. use different acronyms for the charge, even ones that border Louisiana.

In Louisiana, driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is the term used to describe impaired or drunken driving. Texas also uses the term DWI.

DUI is another acronym for impaired or drunken driving, standing for “driving under the influence.” Mississippi, for example, uses the term DUI. 

However, in some states, both terms are used. In these jurisdictions, DWI usually refers to driving while intoxicated of alcohol, while DUI is used when the vehicle operator is charged with being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Arkansas is an example of a neighboring state that officially uses both terms.

Both DUI and DWI imply that the arresting officer has reason to believe that you are too impaired to continue driving. In some states, drivers can be charged with impaired driving even if they do not meet the BAC level for legal intoxication, if an officer still has reason to believe you are acting under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

For example, in Louisiana, police can still charge a driver with DWI if he or she suspects alcohol has been combined with other drugs, even if the driver’s BAC is only between .05 and .07.

As you can see, DWI law can be confusing. If you have been charged with a DWI, contact an experienced Louisiana DWI attorney right away for the help and guidance you need.

This article’s photo comes courtesy of Flickr contributor, Jeffrey Smith

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About Gary Smith

Gary is a founding member of Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias L.L.C. Gary represents clients whose cases involve maritime and admiralty law and litigation. In addition to practicing law, Gary serves as a State Senator in the Louisiana Senate.Gary Smith's Google+ Profile

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