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Understand the Definitions of and Penalties for DWI and DUI

Consuming Alcohol or Controlled Substances Then Driving Is a Crime

Learn the definitions of and penalties for DWI and DUI. DWI means Driving While Intoxicated and DUI means Driving Under the Influence. In our blog last month about misdemeanors and felonies, we addressed felony and misdemeanor examples of DUI and DWI.

Usually, those accused of DUI or DWI a few times throughout their lives face misdemeanor charges. Felony DUI or DWI charges occur if there were child passengers or it’s the third charge in under 10 years. This month, our blog focuses on explaining:

  • If “DWI” and “DUI” are the same thing and what they both mean
  • What’s considered a controlled substance
  • Sentences imposed for DUI and DWI convictions

Are “DWI” and “DUI” the Same Thing and What Do They Both Mean?

DWI and DUI aren’t necessarily the same thing. That said, both terms mean that someone’s charged with an offense that endangered others and themselves. In Ohio, DUI and DWI aren’t even what’s charged; instead, it’s Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence (OVI.) In West Virginia, DUI charges encompass DWI allegations.

What Does DWI Specifically Mean?

As previously explained, DWI means Driving While Intoxicated. It specifically refers to driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over the established legal limit. Those 21 years old or older with BACs of 0.08 or higher are legally intoxicated in West Virginia and Ohio.  Generally, for every alcoholic drink, a person’s BAC goes up by approximately 0.02 percent. Therefore, it takes four to five drinks to register a BAC of 0.08 percent.

What Does DUI Specifically Mean?

The “D” in DUI also stands for “Driving,” but the “U” stands for “Under” and the “I” for “Influence.” Like DWI, DUI charges refer to instances when someone allegedly drives under the influence of alcohol. It also covers charges of driving under the influence of controlled substances.

A Footnote About Underage DUI and DWI

In every state, the legal age to consume alcohol is 21 years old. Therefore, DUI and DWI charge parameters differ for underage drinking and driving. Those under 21 caught driving after drinking alcohol in Ohio are charged with OVI with BACs of .02 percent. In West Virginia, those under 21 caught driving with BACs between 0.02 and 0.079 percent can be charged with DUIs.

In a DUI, What’s Considered Controlled Substances Under the Law?

Driving while Under the Influence of drugs, or controlled substances, is just as reprehensible as alcohol. Controlled substances can be recreational drugs or those prescribed by a doctor. Generally, drugs fall into six categories: five schedules and prescribed controlled substances. Schedule Five controlled substances include cough preparations containing 200 mg or less of codeine per 100 milliliters or grams.

Check Out Some Examples of Schedule 1 Controlled Substances

  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid)
  • LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide)
  • Methaqualone

Learn Some Examples of Schedule 2 Controlled Substances

  • Cocaine
  • Methadone
  • Methamphetamine
  • Morphine
  • PCP (Phencyclidine)

View Some Schedule 3 Controlled Substances

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Barbiturates (medications used to treat anxiety and seizure disorders)
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone containing aspirin or acetaminophen

Examples of Schedule 4 Controlled Substances (Generic)

  • Propoxyphene
  • Meprobamate
  • Pentazocine
  • Naloxone
  • Valium
  • Alprazolam

Sentences for DUI & DWI Vary—You Could Go to Jail and Will Pay Fines

Imposed sentences vary, depending on the state, BAC, circumstances, and judge, for those convicted of DUI or DWI. Judges usually factor in how many prior DUI or DWI charges defendants received when imposing sentences. They also consider what’s said in impact statements made by any victims at the time of sentencing.

Most states have minimum fines for DUI and DWI and many have minimum incarceration terms. Usually, incarceration for DUI and DWI convictions is at the county level, unless the DUI or DWI is a felony. There’s also usually some timeframe in which those convicted of DUI and DWI have suspended and restricted driving privileges. Here are the sentencing guidelines for each state:

Ohio Sentencing Guidelines

In Ohio, sentence guidelines coincide with whether or not the convicted driver failed or refused the BAC test. Judges also take into account what the BAC was and if the incident was a first, second, or third offense. Having a fourth DUI (aka OVI) in Ohio is a fourth-degree felony.

Those convicted of fourth-degree felony OVI can face anywhere between 60- and 120-days incarceration, possibly up to 30 months. Fines range between $1,350 and $10,500, a minimum of three years license suspension, and an ignition interlock. Ohio also requires defendants convicted of fourth-degree felony OVIs to attach DUI license plates to their vehicles, designating restricted privileges.

West Virginia Sentencing Guidelines

For underage DUIs, there’s not an incarceration penalty, but there is a mandatory fine between $25 and $100. For defendants over 21 convicted of DUI with BACs between 0.08 and 0.15 percent, there’s no mandatory sentence imposed. At the judge’s discretion, sentences could include up to six months’ incarceration and fines between $100 and $500. Having a BAC of 0.15 percent or greater in West Virginia results in charges of aggravated DUI.

If convicted of aggravated DUI, the mandatory minimum is 48 hours, of which 24 must actually be served in jail. Mandatory aggravated DUI sentences can include six months maximum incarceration. Fines range between $200 and $1,000. Such convicted defendants also potentially have a 45-day license suspension and mandatory ignition interlock after the suspension for 270 days.

For more information on legal services, give Summers & Associates a call at (304) 420-0975. Follow us on FACEBOOK for updates. We are happy to discuss more about the definitions of and penalties for DWI and DUI.