Being charged with any kind of criminal offense, especially those related to driving under the influence of drugs of alcohol, can be scary. It can also be confusing. The court system uses a language all it’s own, and the terminology can make it hard for people to understand their situation and what to expect.
Let’s clear up some of the confusion.
What’s the difference between a DWI and a DUI?
For all practical purposes, there really isn’t any distinction between the two terms – at least not in Virginia.
DUI stands for “driving under the influence” of alcohol and DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” The confusion arises because some states use one term, while some use the other – and some states actually use both in different ways.
In Virginia, statute § 18.2-266 appears to use both terms interchangeably, so you may hear one or both of these phrases thrown around during and after your arrest.
What’s the difference between drunk driving and DUID?
DUID stands for “driving under the influence of drugs.” That means that you are believed to have been operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of some drug that left you impaired – or even a combination of drugs and alcohol together.
This is often the charge that takes regular, law-abiding people by surprise because – while the law does specifically discuss illegal drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs – you can end up with a DUID due to over-the-counter medications or legitimate prescriptions.
For example, a common situation is when someone has a glass of wine at dinner without realizing that even a tiny amount of alcohol could interact with the cold medication they took earlier in the day. They end up nearly falling asleep behind the wheel and soon find themselves facing charges.
If you’re facing charges of driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, don’t try to handle the situation on your own. An experienced defense can help.