What You Need To Know
A Brief Overview On Driving Under The Influence

What you need to about the consequences of driving under the influence.

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צילום: Johnathan Lapid

Driving under the influence is a criminal offence and alcohol is not the only factor in impairment when arresting someone for this act.

Information is provided by Jonathan Lapid, DUI Lawyer, Canada

Driving under the influence, with the acronym of DUI, or in other cases, DWI, which means driving while intoxicated, is a charge that has many consequences attached to it from place to place. These two terms can sometimes have different meanings depending on where you are, but they typically point to the same thing.

Being charged with either of these offences means that you are putting not only your own life at risk, but everyone else that is on the road at the same time as you. A DUI or DWI doesn’t only apply to alcohol either. It can apply to drugs that are being used recreationally, as well as prescription drugs. It’s the best bet to just stay off the road if you are consuming any drug that has the capacity to impair your abilities. Alcohol and drugs both affect the user in different ways, and one is not known to be better than the other.

DUI And DWI Terms Vary From One Location To The Next

Both of these terms are related to drunken or impaired driving. There are some locations that will call drunken driving a DUI, and others that refer to it as a DWI. There are cases in the same location that decide to use both terms interchangeably, and this is when confusion arises. A lot of the time, one term is used to refer to alcohol impairment, while the other is used to refer to drug impairment. And then in other cases, DWI is used to refer to someone that is driving under the influence of alcohol and has a blood alcohol content that is over the limit, while the term DUI is used to refer to someone that is being arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In locations where both terms are used, DWI most commonly relates to driving while being impaired by alcohol, drugs, or other substances and DUI typically just refers to someone that is driving under the influence of alcohol. Depending on what jurisdiction you are located in, it’s always best to make sure and check.


Apart from the terms DUI and DWI, there are still yet other terms used to refer to drunken driving. OUI stands for operating under the influence and OWI stands for operating while intoxicated. OUI is only used throughout three states in the U.S., which are Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island. The term “operating” refers to more than only using the vehicle. If a vehicle is stopped completely and not even turned on, an individual can still be charged for operating under the influence.

Determining Impaired Driving Charges Isn’t Only Based On Blood-Alcohol Concentration

Being charged with any of these different things happens because the officer has concluded that a driver is too impaired to go about safely operating the vehicle. Even if drivers do not satisfy the levels of blood alcohol concentration for legal intoxication, motorists may still be charged for impaired driving (or driving under the influence).

An example of this is that if someone fails to complete a field sobriety test or visibly reveals that they are impaired, they can be charged for driving while impaired. This can even happen if their blood-alcohol concentration falls below 0.08, which is under the legal limit.

Driving Under The Influence Of Drugs Is Impaired Driving

If the arresting officer sees you and you visibly look impaired, but the breathalyzer exam indicates that you're not under the influence of alcohol, they may start to get suspicions that you are under the influence of other drugs instead, which might be impairing your ability to safely operate the vehicle. In addition to other illegal drugs, prescription and nonprescription drugs can also impair a motorist's ability to drive effectively. The officer who appears on the scene has the ability to contact a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), and they will assist the officer in performing the tests in determining the impairment.

If the multi-step assessment process of the DRE officer determines that you really are under the influence of drugs, then there is the potential that you will be charged with a DUI or DWI. Depending on what location you are driving in, the charges will reflect that. Just like any other drug, prescription and nonprescription drugs have the ability to affect how someone drives. Even if you haven't had one drink of alcohol, you can still be at risk.

What Are The Consequences Of Driving Impaired?

It doesn't really matter what the actual offence is called in your specific location. If you are pulled over by an officer for driving impaired, you will undoubtedly face dire and severe consequences. In most cases of being convicted or pleading guilty, the driver will lose their licence and pay hefty fines and court fees. If it is your second time driving impaired, you will end up with jail time. In many cases, you will have to do community services and be put on probation. You'll likely have to participate in defensive driving classes just to get your driver's licence back. You'll probably also receive an assessment of your drinking or substance use trends in most areas. Depending on what the assessment indicates, there is a high chance that you will also have to go to an alcohol or drug treatment program. The duration of the program might be just a few Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or be a full treatment facility program.

What Are The Effects Of Being Convicted Of A Dui Or DWI?

You'll probably need SR-22 insurance once you receive your driver's licence back. Getting this could potentially double or even triple your premium payments, dependent on what location you are in. You will typically pay higher premiums for a duration of three years.

You may also be expected to have an ignition interlock device mounted in your car, depending on the surrounding laws of where you live. Unless you blow into the device, you won't be able to start your vehicle and it will have to indicate that you weren't drinking alcohol. The driver will also have to pay for the device and its installation, along with a fee for monthly monitoring.

Being arrested for driving under the influence can result in spending thousands of dollars and turn into an extremely long and time-consuming process to deal with. If you are drinking or doing any type of drug, it's highly recommended to just not bother getting behind the wheels of the car. In addition, it is not worth putting everyone on the road at risk of getting hurt.

Alcohol impairs your abilities to safely drive a vehicle, and never stepping foot behind the vehicle after any amount of alcohol is the best way in ensuring that you won’t put yourself or anyone on the road in harm’s way. In addition, if you are currently taking prescription drugs that have warnings not to operate a vehicle while taking them, the laws will potentially convict you of a DUI or DWI conviction as well.