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Is there a difference between DWI, DUI?

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Is there a difference between DWI, DUI?
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Question: Is there any difference in DWI and DUI? How about the fines?

Answer: Essentially they are the same thing. My understanding is that years ago the term “DWI” that stood for “Driving While Intoxicated.” As time went on it wasn’t just “intoxicating alcohol” we were dealing with, but drugs as well, so “DUI” was added to more accurately cover “Driving Under the Influence” of either alcohol or drugs.  I suppose “Driving While under the Influence” could also apply, which is why both terms are still used.

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As far as fines here is some more information:

  • Minnesota’s legal alcohol-concentration driving limit is 0.08 — but motorists can be arrested for DWI at lower levels.
  • The consequences for driving impaired will vary for each DWI offender, but a typical penalty for a first-time offender is potential jail time and loss of license for a minimum of 30 days up to a year.
  • Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level, must use ignition interlock in order to regain legal driving privileges, or face at least one year without a driver’s license. Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges. Interlock helps to ensure sober driving to keep roads safe and reduce re-offenses.
  • Costs can be as high as $20,000 when factoring court costs, legal fees and increased insurance premiums.

The fight against impaired driving is everyone’s responsibility:

  • Have a plan for a sober ride before you party.
  • Use safe alternatives — designate a sober driver; take a cab or public transportation; or crash on a friend’s couch, so you don’t crash on the road.
  • Report impaired driving — if you see erratic driving (swerving, driving too slow, etc.); find a safe place to call 911. Be prepared to provide location, driver behavior, and most importantly, a license plate.

For questions about traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to: Trooper Jesse Grabow, Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205 (you can also follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).

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