Part of what makes complying with the law so challenging is that the law is different in every state. The vast majority of criminal cases occur at the state level, and individuals can easily confuse the laws of one state with the regulations of another. The use of different standards and terminologies in all 50 states can result in individuals breaking the law without actually intending to do so. The better someone’s understanding of the law, the easier it will be for them to avoid breaking state statutes and to successfully defend against allegations of misconduct.
In Oklahoma, police officers can arrest people for drunk driving based on several different standards. Some people end up accused of a driving under the influence (DUI) offense, while others face driving while impaired (DWI charges). What is the difference between a DUI and a DWI in Oklahoma?
A DWI involves lower alcohol levels
The most basic difference between a DUI and a DWI in Oklahoma is the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) produced during chemical tests. Someone accused of a DWI offense typically has a BAC of at least 0.05% but still less than the 0.08% that serves as the legal limit.
Someone who is arrested for a DWI must have a detectable BAC and also needs to demonstrate impaired ability at the wheel. Swerving, driving too slow or sporadically braking while driving are all examples of impairment-related conduct that could justify a traffic stop and a DWI charge.
A DUI involves being over the legal limit. For most drivers who are adults, a BAC of 0.08% or more will automatically lead to a DUI arrest after they fail a test. Police officers will not need to prove that the alcohol actually affected someone’s driving ability. It is automatically illegal to drive while over the BAC threshold of 0.08% regardless of how the alcohol in someone’s bloodstream affects them.
Someone accused of a DUI offense will face harsher penalties than someone accused of a DWI in most cases. Repeat offenses and aggravating factors, such as causing harm to other people, can worsen the penalties that the courts impose after a guilty plea or conviction. Understanding what separates a DUI from a DWI in Oklahoma may help people develop the best defense strategy given their circumstances.