DUI vs DWI: What's the Difference?
Driving under the influence is labeled differently in different states. In Pennsylvania, the correct term is a DUI, which stands for driving under the influence. In other states, the offense might be labeled as a DWI, which can stand for driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired. Other states label the offense as an OWI or an OUI, which stands for operating while impaired or intoxicated or operating under the influence, respectively.
In Pennsylvania, the only acronym that is used is DUI. This term can refer to driving under the influence of alcohol or driving under the influence of drugs.
Regardless of the particular acronym that might be used, every state characterizes a driving under the influence of alcohol offense as occurring when someone drives with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. If you are pulled over and have a BAC at this level, you can be taken into custody and charged with drunk driving. The potential consequences of a conviction vary from state to state. Within Pennsylvania, the consequences also vary based on your level of impairment as measured by your BAC.
Pennsylvania divides DUI offenses into three levels as follows:
- General impairment DUI- BAC from 0.08% to 0.099%
- High DUI- BAC from 0.10% to 0.159%
- Highest DUI- BAC from 0.16% and higher
There are also different laws for certain classes of drivers. Under Pennsylvania’s zero tolerance law, drivers under the age of 21 can be charged with a DUI if they have any alcohol in their systems.
In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with a DUI if you drive while you are under the influence of drugs. When an officer pulls you over and suspects that you are under the influence of drugs, he or she might call an officer who is trained in identifying signs of drug impairment. You may be arrested if you fail this screening and asked to submit to a blood test. While the procedures might be different than they are for alcohol, you can still be charged with a DUI if you are under the influence of drugs.
Someone can be charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania if one or more of the following occurs:
- There is a metabolite of a Schedule I drug in the driver’s blood
- The individual drives with any amount of a Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substance that has not been medically prescribed
- The driver looks and acts like he is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs to the point where he cannot drive safely
- The driver looks and acts like he is under the influence of one or more drugs to the point where he or she cannot drive safely
*A metabolite is a chemical “signature” that says a drug was present in the blood.
Remember that all tests for chemical substances can be administered improperly at times. Coming up positive does not mean you will automatically get a DUI. Our team of attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. knows how to help you.
Driving under the influence is not something that should be taken lightly and should be avoided at all costs, but if you are pulled over and charged with a DUI, contact our team of attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. An experienced criminal defense attorney can make a world of a difference for your charge, the penalties you receive, and the way your case is handled. You can reach Peter or Rachel Olszewski via phone at 570-346-2600.