Skip to main content

Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are serious offenses with significant legal consequences. These terms are used interchangeably in Florida, but they may have different meanings in other states.

It is essential for anyone facing these charges to understand the differences between DUI and DWI. In this blog, our Florida-based DUI attorneys from Fletcher & Fletcher will outline everything you need to know about DUI versus DWI in the state.

What is a DUI?

A DUI occurs when someone operates a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs to the point where their normal faculties are compromised. In Florida, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08% for adults and 0.02% for drivers under 21 years of age.

Importantly, Florida law treats driving under the influence (DUI) of controlled substances, prescription medications, or even over-the-counter medications that impair driving ability with the same seriousness and penalties as offenses related to alcohol.

Being accused of DUI doesn’t automatically mean the State can prove the individual was indeed driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. Therefore, it’s crucial for anyone arrested for DUI to consult with a Florida-based DUI attorney immediately.

What is a DWI?

In certain states, DWI stands for driving while impaired by alcohol, whereas in others, it signifies driving while intoxicated, encompassing impairment from drugs or a mix of alcohol and drugs. 

In Florida, DWI and DUI are commonly used interchangeably.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI?

In Florida, the term DUI is officially used to describe driving under the influence of substances, while “DWI” is not a legal term within the state, though it may be used informally.

This distinction could be relevant for someone who has a DWI conviction from another state and is later arrested for DUI in Florida.

But essentially, there really is no legal distinction between DUI and DWI, as both refer to the offense of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, other states might differentiate between the two, depending on the level of impairment or the specific substance involved.

Which is Worse: DUI or DWI?

In Florida, DUI and DWI are both considered serious offenses, carrying potentially harsh penalties. The severity of these penalties varies based on several factors. For someone convicted of DUI, the penalties can be influenced by:

  • The time span between the second and third convictions
  • A blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher at the time of arrest
  • The presence of a child in the vehicle during the DUI arrest
  • Involvement in a car accident
  • Occurrence of property damage
  • Injury or fatality of another person

Implied Consent for Testing in Florida

Florida’s implied consent law means that individuals automatically agree to undergo physical or chemical tests for substances by holding a license or driving in the state. This includes breath, blood, or urine tests.

Penalties for Refusing to Take the DUI Test

Florida’s implied consent law mandates that drivers arrested on suspicion of drunk driving must undergo urine, blood, or breath tests. Those who refuse will have their license revoked for one year. A second refusal results in an 18-month revocation, and if it’s a second refusal of a breath test, it triggers a charge of a first-degree misdemeanor.

Furthermore, refusing a test can be used as evidence against you in a DUI trial.

What Are The Penalties for a DUI/DWI?

DUI or DWI can affect a person’s driving privileges, housing, education, and career prospects in Florida. DUIs are usually misdemeanors, but certain factors like multiple offenses, causing serious injury, or prior criminal history can elevate them to felonies, imposing harsher penalties.

Penalties for DUI in Florida may include:

  • Jail time: Ranges from up to 6 months for a first offense to up to 5 years for severe cases or repeat offenses.
  • Fines: Start from a minimum of $500 for a first DUI to up to $5,000 for third-time offenses.
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Requirement: This may be ordered at the judge’s discretion for first offenses and mandatory for subsequent offenses, with the duration increasing with each conviction.
  • License Revocation: License suspension is automatic once charged with DUI. However, you may still be able to drive for business purposes for the next 10 days. On the other hand, revocation varies from 6 months for a first offense to 10 years for a third offense within 10 years.

Convicted drivers might also face community service, DUI school enrollment, and participation in alcohol abuse programs. In Florida, a DUI conviction remains on your driving record for 75 years, potentially affecting your driving privileges and insurance premiums for a lifetime.

If you’re facing DUI charges in central Florida, it’s crucial to consult with a qualified St. Petersburg DUI attorney immediately for legal guidance.

How Fletcher & Fletcher Can Help When Facing a DWI or DUI

Facing DWI or DUI charges in Florida requires a seasoned criminal defense attorney. Fletcher & Fletcher stands ready to guide you by answering your questions, understanding your rights and the legal process’s intricacies, and crafting a robust defense strategy. Our commitment includes representing your interests in court and striving for the most favorable resolution to your case.

Contact Fletcher & Fletcher Today!

Understanding that there is no difference between DUI and DWI in Florida is important for individuals confronting these allegations. However, it’s essential to recognize that the charge carries serious consequences thus, it is essential to seek legal guidance if you find yourself in this situation. The team at Fletcher & Fletcher is here to help you every step of the way.

Contact us today, and let us start building your defense wherever you are in Florida!

Skip to content