police car flashing lights Missouri traffic ticket

DUI Vs. DWI: What’s The Difference

You may have heard of the terms DUI and DWI, and you may have even seen them used interchangeably. So the question that many people want to know is if a DUI and DWI are the same thing? Technically speaking, there is a difference between the two charges. However, the legal system in Missouri has decided to incorporate the two charges and use only one acronym (DWI) to define the charge. So in Missouri, there is no difference between a DUI or DWI charge in terms of penalties. But to clarify, let’s take a look at the differences:

person being pulled over with a beer in hand -  DWI Charge in Missouri
  • DUI – DUI stands for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This can be any amount of alcohol, and a person may be charged with a DUI if he or she is found to have drug, alcohol, or both in their system at the time of the DUI arrest. 
  • DWI – DWI stands for driving while intoxicated and is used when alcohol is the cause of impairment. Another way to say this is that you can be charged with a DWI or DUI if there is alcohol involved, but you can only be charged with a DUI if the impairment is due to drugs alone*.

*Missouri uses the term DWI for both DUI and DWI cases. If a person operates a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated or drugged condition, that person is guilty of a DWI in Springfield, MO.  

Regardless of whether you are facing DUI or DWI charges, the effects of the charge will haunt you for most of your life if you are found guilty. When you are pulled over under suspicion of intoxicated driving in Missouri, you will face two separate sections and penalties of Missouri Law: Criminal and Administrative. 

Administrative Law

Administrative law is what imposes suspension or revocation of driving privileges if your blood alcohol content (BAC) levels are at or above the legal limit. Furthermore, if you are pulled over under suspension of drinking and driving in Missouri and refuse to submit to a BAC test, your license will automatically be suspended for a year, even if you are not guilty of a DWI. Often, for a first time offender, their license will be suspended anywhere from 30 to 90 days with the length of time increasing for subsequent traffic violations, alcohol-related or not. If you are convicted of a DWI charge in Missouri, the court will send a copy of the conviction to the Department of Revenue, and points will be added to your license in relation to the sentence. 

Criminal Law

man in court speaking to judge -  DWI Charge in Missouri
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This law deals with the crime itself. If you are convicted of a DWI charge in Missouri, you will face fines, jail time, and probation. The amount you have to pay and time you have to serve will depend on the crime itself, whether this is your first offense, your criminal defense attorney, and the judge’s ruling. For most first time DWI offenders in Missouri, they can expect to pay fines of up to $500, up to six months in jail, probation, and increased insurance rates. 

The Bottomline

The result of these sections of Missouri law means that you will lose your driving privileges for a period of time, even if you can get the criminal charges dropped or reduced (this only applies if your BAC was over the legal limit). The bottom line is this: You need experienced legal representation if you are facing DWI charges in Missouri. 

Call DWI Springfield today to have your charges reduced and your driving privileges reinstated to the best of our abilities.