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Common DUI Abbreviations

Listed below are the names and definitions of terms used to refer to the crime of driving under the influence. Be sure to double check your applicable statutes, because in addition to the names differing among states, the elements defining the offense vary as well. And always remember to consult with an attorney for a better understanding of how your local laws relate to the specific facts of your case.


The most commonly used abbreviation for the offense of drunk driving is “DUI” (Driving Under the Influence). The elements defining the crime vary from state to state, and can be found by checking your local statutes. You’ll hear the term DUI used in the following jurisdictions:

AlabamaArizonaCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelaware, District of Columbia, FloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisKansasKentuckyMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMississippiMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNorth DakotaOklahomaOregonPennsylvaniaSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennesseeUtahVermontVirginiaWashingtonWest Virginia, and Wyoming.


The second most commonly used abbreviation has two possible definitions. Whether it’s called Driving While Impaired or Driving While Intoxicated, the following states use the term DWI:

AlaskaArkansasLouisianaMinnesotaMissouriNew JerseyNew MexicoNew York, and North Carolina.

The Consequences of Drunk Driving

DUI PenaltiesThe penalties for a DUI conviction are significant. You may be subjected to fines, court costs, imprisonment, probation, community service, ignition interlock devices, alcohol counseling, DUI school, house arrest, alcohol abstinence, Victim Impact Panels, and more. You may lose your driving privileges. Your vehicle may be impounded. DUI punishments increase depending on the severity of the offense. Felony DUI offenses carry harsher penalites then misdemeanors. The existence of aggravating factors will increase a punishment For example, repeat offenders and cases involving accidents with serious bodily injury or death can take a DUI from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Whether your DUI was charged as a misdemeanor or felony will affect how much jail time you potentially may face.

There are other pitfalls in DUI cases that don’t come directly from a sentence. The social stigma of being an offender could damage your reputation and affect your career. You may lose your job or professional license. You may be subjected to civil liability. Your insurance costs will increase. In extreme situations, you may even risk losing custody of your children, depending on the severity of your offense. If you have been arrested for DUI, you are not the only person who is negatively affected by your charge. Your family may depend on you to support them, and it is possible you will be out of work and unable to drive should a conviction result.

Most states have minimum mandatory penalties for DUI offenses. That means judges are required to sentence you to at least the minimum punishment under your state’s local law. If you are convicted of drunk driving in a state with laws mandating jail time, you will go to jail. It is important that you understand the nature of your charges and the consequences you potentially are facing. Without first consulting an attorney, do not enter a plea of guilty unless you have been well informed of the punishments you are facing. Be sure to check your state’s penalty section for more information, and contact a local attorney to discuss the details of your case.

DUI LawIf you are confused by all the different terms out there that are used to refer to the crime of drunk driving, you are not alone. Many people get the abbreviations and their respective definitions mixed up. Should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being arrested for drunk driving, you may stumble (no pun intended) to fully understand what exactly it is you are being accused of. Though the names may vary, DUI, DWI, etc., – they all have one thing in common…trouble. The first step in planning your defense is to research your local laws as much as possible. Knowledge is power, and the more you know the better prepared you will be.

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