Is there a difference between DUI and DWI in Virginia?

The Differences Between DUI and DWI Charges

In some states, driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are two separate offenses, with one being less serious than the other. In addition, many people use the terms DUI and DWI interchangeably when talking about drunk driving charges. However, you should know that in Virginia, there is no difference between the two.

The confusion between the terms DUI and DWI may stem from the text of the statute itself. Virginia Code § 18.2-266 contains a reference to driving while intoxicated as well as a reference to being under the influence of alcohol. But no matter what you call it—DUI or DWI—it is the same serious charge that may result in a misdemeanor conviction and a permanent criminal record.

Virginia Intoxication Law Addresses Both Drugs and Alcohol

Virginia state law prohibits a driver from operating any type of motor vehicle—even a train—while under the influence of a substance that alters their ability to operate the vehicle safely. This substance could be alcohol, which is very common, but it could also be street drugs or even drugs that were prescribed by a doctor.

When it comes to drinking and driving in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a driver is considered legally DUI if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent or higher. However, they can still be charged with DUI—even when their BAC is lower than .08 percent—if their ability to drive has been affected by alcohol. And if their capacity to safely operate a motor vehicle has been compromised due to drug use, they may face the same charges as they would for driving under the influence of alcohol—a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a fine between $250 and $2,500.

Contact Our Experienced Attorneys for Help With Your Drunk Driving Charge

Were you arrested for DUI in Virginia? Our experienced drunk driving attorneys have years of experience successfully helping other clients face these charges. To learn what to expect in your criminal case and how we can help, call our office or start an online chat today. The initial consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose.