What is the difference: DWI vs. DUI?

Comparing DWI vs. DUI is like comparing apples to apples. Some states don't differentiate between DWI and DUI. If you were looking for DWI vs. DUI car insurance rates, you'd find that insurance companies treat both offenses the same. DUI auto insurance rates are 37% more expensive than average. Shop around and compare multiple insurance companies to get the best deal for DWI and DUI-convicted drivers.

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UPDATED: Jun 28, 2022

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Written By: Chris TepedinoReviewed By: Laura WalkerUPDATED: Jun 28, 2022Fact Checked

The Rundown

  • Each state has different penalties for DUI
  • DUI fines and fees can reach up to $5,000 in some states
  • Depending on where you live, drunk or drugged driving may be referred to as DUI or DWI or even OWI (Operating While Impaired)

Did you know that there is a difference between DWI and DUI? DWI versus DUI depends on the state where you live. Some areas in the United States refer to it as DWI, while others reference DUI.

But what is DWI vs. DUI in Texas? What about DWI vs. DUI in California? Don’t worry — we’re here to help.

Our guide has everything you need to know about DWI versus DUI, how much DWI and DUI affect car insurance, and which states use OWI and OUI.

Continue reading to learn more about car insurance for those DWI versus those DUI. Enter your ZIP code above to compare multiple insurance companies using our free online quote tool.

What is the difference between DWI and DUI?

DWI means driving while intoxicated (or impaired), but DUI stands for driving under the influence.

DUI charges are usually issued when a person is caught driving over the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit.

Meanwhile, DWI charges are presented to drivers who operate a vehicle while under the influence of either prescription drugs or recreational substances.

DWI vs. DUI: Which is worse?

Each state references DWI and DUI differently. In other words, some states may convict a guilty driver with DUI regardless of the substance.

Both are equally bad news for your driving record and car insurance rates.

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What are the DWI and DUI state laws?

Every state in the nation defines DWI and DUI differently. Some similarities are shared between states, but laws are presented in a unique way for each area in the country.

Let’s look at a few examples to determine how various states define DWI and DUI.

DWI vs. DUI in Texas

Texas is one of many states with zero tolerance for DUI. Minors convicted of DUI usually have lighter sentences, regardless of the BAC limit.

Texas charges DWI-convicted drivers over the age of 21 with strict penalties, such as fines, community service, and possible jail time.

DWI vs. DUI in Virginia

Virginia doesn’t distinguish between DWI and DUI. The state’s law enforcement uses both terms interchangeably. More DWI/DUI offenses on your driving record mean higher fines and longer sentences.

DWI vs. DUI in North Carolina

North Carolina uses DWI and DUI to identify drivers who are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other recreational substances. A person can receive a DWI charge even when not driving.

Penalties depend on levels. Levels range from one to five (known as Aggravated Level one to Aggravated Level five), where level one is the most severe).

Any person who gives keys to someone who is impaired will be charged with aiding and abetting a DWI individual.

DWI vs. DUI in New York

The state of New York utilizes DWI and DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired). DWAI is usually a lesser charge and typically convicts drivers with a BAC limit of 0.05% – 0.07%.

Both DWAI and DWI can land you in jail, depending on the severity of the crime.

DWI vs. DUI in California

California has a strict no-tolerance law for minors who commit a DUI offense. Any driver with an active driver’s license is subject to a BAC test, if a police officer suspects that they are intoxicated.

A person who has a BAC limit of 0.08% or above, while driving a motor vehicle, will be charged with DUI. But drivers who drive under the influence of drugs are charged with DWI.

DWI vs. DUI in Missouri

Missouri is another state that doesn’t differentiate between DWI and DUI. Instead of DWI, Missouri references DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs).

What are the penalties for DWI vs. DUI?

State laws and penalties vary for each state. For example, Arkansas has different penalties for DUI than Colorado. But all states are harsh on drivers who commit multiple DWIs or DUIs.

Let’s examine the DWI and DUI penalties for each state.

DUI Penalties by State
StateTypeFirst offenseSecond offenseSubsequent offenses
AlabamaDUIUp to $2,100 in fines, up to a year in jail, and/or 90-day license suspensionUp to $5,100 in fines, up to a year in jail, and 45-day minimum license suspensionN/A
AlaskaDUI$1,500 minimum fine, 72 hours in jail, and minimum 90-day license suspension20 day imprisonment, minimum $3,000 fine, and license suspension for minimum of one year (within 15 years of the first DUI)60 day imprisonment, minimum $4,000 fine, and license suspension for minimum of three years (within 15 years of the second DUI)
ArizonaDUIMinimum $250 fine and up to 10 days in jail$500 base fine and up to 90 days in jail$750 base fine and 4 month minimum incarceration
ArkansasDUI, DWIUp to $1,000 in fines, up to a year in jail, 6-month license suspension, and alcohol treatmentUp to $3,000 in fines, up to a year in jail, 2-year license suspension, and alcohol treatmentMaximum penalty considered a felony
CaliforniaDUIUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, 6 month license suspension, and DUI schoolUp to $1,000 in fines, up to a year in jail, one year license suspension, and DUI school or SB 38Up to $1,000 in fines, up to a year in jail, 2 years license suspension, and traffic school
ColoradoDUIUp to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, 9 month license suspension, community service, and DMV pointsUp to $1,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, one year license suspension, community service, and DMV pointsUp to $1,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, 2 year license suspension, community service, and DMV points
ConnecticutDUIUp to $1,000 in fines; up to one year in prisonUp to $1,000 in fines; up to 2 years in prisonUp to $1,000 in fines; up to 3 years in prison
DelawareDUI$1,500 minimum fine, up to one year in jail, and up to 2 year license suspension$2,500 minimum fine, minimum 18 months in jail, and up to 30 months license suspension$2,500 minimum fine, minimum 18 months in jail, and up to 30 months license suspension
District of ColumbiaDUI, DWIUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, and up to 6 months license suspensionUp to $5,000 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, and up to one year license suspensionUp to $10,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, and up to 2 years license suspension
FloridaDUIUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, and up to 3 years license suspensionUp to $2,000 in fines, up to 9 months in jail, and up to 5 years license suspensionUp to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, and up to 10 years license suspension
GeorgiaDUIMinimum $300 in fines, up to 10 days in jail, possible license suspension, community serviceMinimum $1,000 in fines, up to 1 year in jail, one year license suspension, community serviceMinimum $5,000 in fines, up to 1 year in jail, 5 years license suspension, community service
HawaiiDUI, DWIMinimum $1,000 in fines, up to 5 days in jail, one-year license suspension, community service, rehabMinimum $3,000 in fines, up to 30 days in jail, 3 years license suspension, community service, rehabMinimum $5,000 in fines, minimum 10 days in jail, up to 5 year license suspension, community service, rehab
IdahoDUIMinimum $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, three month license suspensionMinimum $2,000 in fines, up to five years in jail, one year license suspensionUp to $5,000 in fines, up to 10 years in jail, up to five years license suspension
IllinoisDUIMaximum $2,500 in fines, maximum one year in jail, one-year license suspension, community serviceMaximum $2,500 in fines, maximum one year in jail, 5 years license suspension, community serviceMaximum $25,000 in fines, maximum 7 years in jail, 10 years license suspension, community service
IndianaDUIUp to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, and up to 180 days license suspensionUp to $10,000 in fines, up to 3 years in jail, and up to 2 years license suspensionUp to $10,000 in fines, up to 3 years in jail, and up to 10 years license suspension
IowaDUI, DWI, OWIUp to $1,250 in fines, up to one year in jail, and up to one year license suspensionUp to $6,250 in fines, up to 2 years in jail, and up to 2 years license suspensionUp to $9,375 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, and up to 6 years license suspension
KansasDUIUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 2 days in jail, 90 day license suspension, and alcohol treatmentUp to $1,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, one year license suspension, and alcohol treatmentUp to $2,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, one year license suspension, and alcohol treatment
KentuckyDUI, DWIUp to $500 in fines, up to 30 days in jail, 120 day license suspension, community service, rehabUp to $500 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, 18 month license suspension, community service, rehabUp to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, 36 month license suspension, community service, rehab
LouisianaDUI, DWIUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, community service, rehabUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, community service, rehabUp to $2,000 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, community service, rehab
MaineDUI, DWIUp to $500 in fines and up to 150 days license suspensionUp to $900 in fines, 12 days in jail, and up to 3 year license suspensionUp to $1,400 in fines, up to 40 days in jail, and up to 6 years license suspension
MarylandDUI, DWIUp to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, and up to 6 month license suspensionUp to $2,000 in fines, up to 2 years in jail, and up to one year license suspensionUp to $5,000 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, and up to one year license suspension
MassachusettsDUIUp to $5,000 in fines, up to 2.5 years in jail, and up to 90 day license suspensionUp to $10,000 in fines, up to 2.5 years in jail, and up to 2 year license suspensionUp to $15,000 in fines, up to 2.5 years in jail, and up to 8 years license suspension
MichiganOWI, OWVIUp to $500 in fines, up to 93 days in jail, community serviceUp to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, community serviceUp to $5,000 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, community service
MinnesotaDUIUp to $3,000 in fines, up to one year in jailUp to $3,000 in fines, up to one year in jailUp to $14,000 in fines, up to 7 years in jail for felony
MississippiDUI, DWIUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 48 hours in jail, up to one year license suspension, and driver educationUp to $1,500 in fines, up to 1 year in jail, and up to 2 year license suspension, community service, rehabUp to $5,000 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, and up to 5 year license suspension, community service
MissouriDUI, DWIUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, up to 30 day license suspensionUp to $2,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to 5 years license suspensionUp to $10,000 in fines, up to 4 years in jail, up to 10 year license suspension
MontanaDUIUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, up to 6 month license suspension, rehab, driver educationUp to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to one year license suspension, rehab, driver educationUp to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to one year license suspension, rehab, driver education
NebraskaDUI, DWIUp to $500 in fines, up to 60 days in jail, up to 6 months license suspensionUp to $500 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, up to 18 month license suspensionUp to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to 15 year license suspension
NevadaDUI, DWIUp to $400 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, minimum 185 day license suspensionUp to $750 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, one year license suspensionUp to $2,000 in fines, up to 6 years in jail, 3 years license suspension
New HampshireDUI, DWIUp to $1.200 in fines, minimum 2 year license suspensionUp to $2,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, minimum 3 year license suspensionUp to $2,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, lifetime license suspension
New JerseyDUI, DWIUp to $500 in fines, up to 30 days in jail, minimum 3 month license suspension, driver education, community serviceUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 90 days in jail, minimum 2 year license suspension, driver education, community serviceUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, minimum 10 year license suspension, driver education, community service
New MexicoDUI, DWIUp to $500 in fines, up to 90 days in jail, community serviceUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 364 days in jail, community serviceUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 364 days in jail, community service
New YorkDUIUp to $2,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, minimum one year license suspensionUp to $5,000 in fines, up to 4 years in jail, minimum 18 month license suspensionUp to $10,000 in fines, up to 7 years in jail, minimum 19 month license suspension
North CarolinaDUI, DWILevel-basedLevel-basedLevel-based
North DakotaUp to $750 in fines, up to 2 days in jail, minimum 3 month license suspension, community service, rehabUp to $1,500 in fines, up to 10 days in jail, minimum one year license suspension, community service, rehabUp to $2,000 in fines, up to 120 days in jail, minimum one year license suspension, community service, rehab
OhioDUI, DWIUp to $1,075 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, up to 3 years license suspensionUp to $1,625 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, up to 7 years license suspensionUp to $2,750 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to 12 years license suspension
OklahomaDUI, DWIUp to $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to 180 days license suspensionUp to $2,500 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, up to one year license suspensionUp to $5,000 in fines, up to 10 years in jail, up to 3 years license suspension
OregonN/AUp to $6,250 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to one year license suspensionUp to $10.000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to 3 years license suspensionUp to $125,000 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, up to permanent license suspension
PennsylvaniaDUIUp to $5,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, up to one year license suspensionUp to $10,000 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, up to 18 months license suspensionUp to $10,000 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, up to 18 months license suspension
Rhode IslandDUIOver $1,200 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to one year license suspension, community service, rehabOver $1,750 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to 2 years license suspension, community service, rehabOver $5,000 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, up to 3 year license suspension, community service, rehab
South CarolinaDUI, DUACUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 90 days in jail, 6 month license suspensionUp to $6,500 in fines, up to 3 years in jail, up to one year license suspensionUp to $10,000 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, up to 4 year license suspension
South DakotaDUI, DWIUp to $2,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to one year license suspensionUp to $2,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, minimum one year license suspensionUp to $4,000 in fines, up to 2 years in jail, minimum one year license suspension
TennesseeDUIUp to $1,500 in fines, up to 7 days in jail, up to one year license suspensionUp to $3,500 in fines, up to nearly one year in jail, up to 2 years license suspensionUp to $10,000 in fines, up to nearly one year in jail, up to 10 year license suspension
TexasDUI, DWIUp to $4,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, up to one year license suspensionUp to $4,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to 2 years license suspensionUp to $10,000 in fines, up to 10 years in jail, up to 2 years license suspension
UtahDUI, DWIUp to $1,310 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, up to 120 day license suspensionUp to $1,560 in fines, up to 10 days in jail, up to 2 year license suspensionUp to $2,580 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, up to 2 years license suspension
VermontDUI, DWIUp to $750 in fines, up to 2 years in jailUp to $1,500 in fines, up to 2 years in jailUp to $2,500 in fines, up to 5 years in jail
VirginiaDUI, DWIUp to $2,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, one year license suspensionUp to $2,500 in fines up to one year in jail, 3 year license suspensionUp to $2,500 in fines, up to 180 days in jail, indefinite license suspension
WashingtonDUIUp to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to 2 year license suspension, rehabUp to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to 3 year license suspension, rehabUp to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, up to 4 year license suspension, rehab
West VirginiaDUIUp to $1,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, up to 6 months license suspensionUp to $3,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, 10 year license suspensionUp to $5,000 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, permanent license suspension
WisconsinOWIUp to $300 in finesUp to $1,100 in fines, up to 6 months in jailUp to $2,000 in fines, up to one year in jail
WyomingDUI, DWIUp to $750 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, 90 day license suspensionUp to $750 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, one year license suspensionUp to $3,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, 3 year license suspension
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Penalties become increasingly difficult the more you commit DWI or DUI offenses. You’ll also notice that some states use OWI and OUI. Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan reference OWI instead of DWI. OWI stands for operating while intoxicated, and OUI means operating under the influence.

Expect a DWI or DUI offense to accompany a suspended or revoked driver’s license. Drivers who retain their licenses are required to obtain an SR-22 certification.

How do DWI and DUI impact car insurance rates?

Some auto insurance companies may provide different rates for DWI and DUI offenses. But don’t count on DWI vs. DUI car insurance quotes being different.

Drivers convicted of DWI or DUI will pay 37% – 80% more for auto insurance.

You may not find DWI vs. DUI car insurance rates, but you can see how either conviction can affect your access to affordable rates.

Let’s review how much auto insurance costs when you have a DUI conviction.

Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly RatesAverage Rates After a DUIPercent Increase
Allstate$318$52264%
Farmers$288$39336%
GEICO$179$406127%
Liberty Mutual$398$63459%
Nationwide$229$37966%
Progressive$283$33117%
State Farm$235$30329%
Travelers$287$47867%
USAA$161$29281%
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We compared DUI car insurance rates with speeding infractions and accidents to give you an idea of how much DUI affects your policy.

USAA, State Farm, and Progressive are the best insurance companies for drivers who have a DWI or DUI on their driving record.

How do I save money on DWI and DUI car insurance?

Several factors determine whether affordable DWI vs. DUI car insurance is available to you. But the best way to get affordable DUI auto insurance rates is to qualify for multiple discounts. Stacking your deals can save you hundreds of dollars.

We recommend that you compare multiple companies before you buy DWI versus DUI car insurance.

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DWI vs. DUI Car Insurance: The Bottom Line

DWI and DUI may be defined differently in some areas, but some states don’t bother to separate the two. Zero-tolerance states usually have harsher sentences and fines for drivers who violate road laws.

Auto insurance companies follow the same trend, by issuing more expensive rates or not providing coverage at all, for high-risk drivers with DWI or DUI convictions.

Now that you know the difference between DWI versus DUI, use our free online quote tool below to see multiple quotes from the best insurance companies in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions: DWI vs. DUI

Are you interested in learning more about DWI versus DUI? Check out these answers to commonly asked questions to learn more about DWI and DUI.

#1 – Will you go to prison after a DWI or DUI conviction?

It depends on the offenses and the amount of DWI and DUI violations you have. You’ll likely be arrested and charged. If you can’t make bail, you’ll go to the county jail until your court hearing.

#2 – What’s the federal BAC limit?

Various states have unique BAC limits. The federal BAC limit is 0.08%.

#3 – What happens when you fail a breathalyzer test?

You’ll get arrested and charged with DWI or DUI, depending on where you live in the United States.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by insurance experts.

Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about home, life, and car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and C...

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Written by Chris Tepedino
Insurance Feature Writer Chris Tepedino

Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent Laura Walker

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