You’ve probably heard or seen the terms DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) used to describe drunk driving charges. Indeed, they both involve driving while under the influence of some kind of substance that impairs a motorist’s ability to operate a vehicle. However, they refer to two different offenses in Missouri.
The consequences can be serious for either, even if a person isn’t involved in a collision. However, if you’re facing one of these charges, it’s a good idea to understand what each involves.
A DUI charge involves a driver who is operating a vehicle with alcohol in their bloodstream. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in Missouri – and nearly all states – for adults is anything under 0.08% BAC. It’s important not to get DUI confused with a DUID charge. DUID stands for driving under the influence of drugs. That charge is used only for drivers alleged to be impaired by any kind of drugs (legal or illegal and prescribed or not).
The more commonly used charge is DWI, since this can be used whether a driver is believed to be impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. Law enforcement officers can’t always determine what kind of substance has made a driver impaired or caused them to drive erratically or dangerously. Whether a person shows a BAC of 0.08% or over or not, they might still be impaired by drugs. Further, even if they’re not impaired by any substance, police still have a right to arrest them on suspicion of drunk and/or drugged driving.
The consequences can be serious regardless of the specific charge
What’s crucial to keep in mind is that whichever of these charges you see on your documentation, the consequences that could impact your driving privileges, your finances, your career and even your freedom can be serious.
With that said, an arrest does not have to result in conviction. There could potentially be issues with the way any field sobriety tests, including breath tests, were conducted. There could also be issues with the stop and the arrest itself. Before you plead guilty, it’s smart to get legal guidance to help protect your rights and work to minimize the consequences that this situation could inspire. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to avoid a conviction altogether.