DWI vs. DUI? What’s the difference?

What’s the difference between a DWI (Driving While Impaired or Driving While Intoxicated) and a DUI (Driving Under the Influence)?

Nothing. Each state has its own drunk driving statute, and each state calls it something different.

In North Carolina, the statute is N.C.G.S. 20-138.1 which defines the crime of Driving While Impaired. That’s why you’ll find that drunk driving is referred to as a DWI in North Carolina.

A standard DWI in North Carolina is a criminal charge that is a misdemeanor, but a habitual DWI – which applies to certain individuals who have been convicted of four DWIs in the previous 10 years – carries a much harsher penalty – which is the permanent revocation of a license, and at least 12 months (1 year) in prison.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.