We’ve all seen or read stories in the news about drunk driving that have the DUI or DWI acronym, whether it was a report about checkpoints, accidents involving drunk drivers, or a viral video of a person who failed the field sobriety test miserably. While you may have a general idea of what these acronyms/terms mean, it is likely that you do not truly understand what, if any, difference there is between these two acronyms and whether there is a even a legal significance that should give you cause to care.


What Is the Difference Between DUI and DWI?


From an initial standpoint, DUI is an acronym for “driving under the influence,” while DWI designate “driving while intoxicated.” While DUI and DWI both refer to the illegal act of operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, some states classify them separately. In states that do classify them separately, the distinction is based on either the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of the arrest, or whether the impairment was due to alcohol and/or drugs.


Missouri Law


In Missouri, the law does not distinguish between a DUI and a DWI. As such, using one or the other is merely s case of individuals using two terms to describe the same offense. However, under Missouri law, the preferred term is DWI, as the Missouri Revised Statutes state that “a person commits the crime of ‘driving while intoxicated’ if he operates a motor vehicle in an intoxicated or drugged condition.” RSMo 577.010. Thus, a person is charged with a DWI in Missouri if they are found to be operating a motor vehicle while having a BAC of 0.08% or higher and are 21 years of age or older (a driver under the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.02% or higher will also be charged with a DWI).


What is a DUID?


In addition to DWI, Missouri has another category of intoxicated offenses known as DUID (driving under the influence of drugs). This is because the Missouri Revised Statues define “intoxicated condition,” as used above, as a person who “is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or drug, or any combination thereof.” Thus, it is a crime in Missouri to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of a drug, and there is no standard blood test used for determining this offense. That is, there is no fixed amount of a drug needed in the system to make a determination of whether to charge and whether to convict; rather such determination is made at the officer’s and prosecutor’s discretion, and on a case-by-case basis.


Because the statute is directed at “controlled substance[s], or drug[s],” an individual can be charged with impairment by an illegal drug, prescription drugs, and even over-the-counter medications in some instances. Moreover, it is not a defense to claim that you were prescribed or legally entitled to use the controlled substance.


What is the Possible Penalty for a Missouri DWI and DUID conviction?


First offenses for DWI and DUID are misdemeanors. If convicted of a DWI or DUID, a person faces up to six (6) months in prison and a fine up to $500. However, conviction also results in suspension of driving privileges for at least thirty (30) days, and a longer period of driving restrictions regarding when and where a person can travel. It is also important to note that a person facing a DUID charge may also face drug possession charges depending on what controlled substance influenced the driver at the time of the arrest.


Finding the Right DWI Attorney in Missouri


If you have had an unfortunate run-in with the law, and find yourself facing a DWI charge, do not hesitate to contact us at Hollingshead, Paulus, and Eccher. We take the necessary steps to protect your rights and driving privileges. Do not hesitate to reach out today. We are here to help you.