Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Dec 20, 2021

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The Lowdown

  • A DUI is a punishable offense for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • A DUI and DWI are similar offenses, but a DWI typically carries heavier penalties
  • A DUI resulting in death is a major offense that may be punishable up to life in prison

If you’ve been shopping for quotes on auto insurance, you may have been asked if you’ve had a DUI. If you are a new driver, you might as yourself, “What is a DUI?” and, “How will a DUI impact my auto insurance policy?”

Numerous factors affect your auto insurance rates. We’ll help identify how a DUI can increase your rates and why a DUI is considered a derogatory mark. We will also compare a DUI vs. a DWI.

Keep scrolling to learn more about DUI, or enter your ZIP code above to get free quotes from the best auto insurance providers in your area.

What is a DUI?

DUI stands for “driving under the influence” (or drunk driving) and is considered a major driving offense. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 28 people die per day due to drunk driving.

The confusing part to many people is that there is also a DWI which stands for “driving while intoxicated.” Which is worse, DUI or DWI? Well, technically that will depend on the outcome.

Assuming you were simply pulled over without being involved in an accident, a DWI is the more serious of the two charges. This typically means that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was over the legal limit of 0.08.

A DUI, on the other hand, can be issued even if your BAC is below the legal limit but above zero. Many states have a zero-tolerance policy with a set minimum BAC value.

Zero Tolerance BAC Levels by State
StateZero Tolerance BAC
Alabama DUI0.02
Alaska DUI0
Arizona DUI0
Arkansas DWI0.02
California DUI0.01
Colorado DUI0.02
Connecticut OWI0.02
Delaware DUI0.02
DC DUI0
Florida DUI0.02
Georgia DUI0.02
Hawaii DUI0.02
Idaho DUI0.02
Illinois DUI0
Indiana DUI0.02
Iowa OWI0.02
Kansas DUI0.02
Kentucky DUI0.02
Louisiana DWI0.02
Maine OUI0
Maryland DUI0
Massachusetts OUI0.02
Michigan DWI0
Minnesota DWI0
Mississippi DUI0.02
Missouri DWI0.02
Montana DUI0.02
Nebraska DUI0.02
Nevada DUI0.02
New Hampshire DUI0.02
New Jersey DWI0.01
New Mexico DUI0.02
New York DWI0.02
North Carolina DWI0
North Dakota DUI0.02
Ohio DUI0.02
Oklahoma DUI0
Oregon DUI0
Pennsylvania DUI0
Rhode Island DUI0.02
South Carolina DUI0.02
South Dakota DUI0.02
Tennessee DUI0.02
Texas DWI0
Utah DUI0
Vermont OWI0.02
Virginia DUI0.02
Washington DUI0.02
West Virginia DUI0.02
Wisconsin DUI0
Wyoming DUI0.02
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The DUI laws can vary slightly from state to state although the legal limit for a BAC is 0.08 for every state. Many states have a zero-tolerance of 0.02, which is likely just one drink for many people.

The way an officer or judge would classify your intoxication status would likely depend on a multitude of factors such as your BAC, your driving history, if you injured anyone, or were driving recklessly.

What are some DUI consequences?

A DUI may not be considered as serious as a DWI, but it can still come with some hefty consequences, including fines, jail time, and a suspended license. Again, these punishments will vary depending on the state or county you live in.

Punishments can vary quite drastically and some states are more tolerant than others. For example, Arkansas will suspend your license for refusing to take a BAC test.

Your punishment also depends on your number of past offenses. For example, the first offense elicits a six-month license suspension while each additional offense adds another year to your license suspension.

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The fines, in general, range from $100 to more than $10,000 and continue to depend on the offense, your level of intoxication, and other factors. 

For example, Florida increases the severity of fines and imprisonment if there is a minor in the vehicle. Fines can double while imprisonment can become mandatory and also increase in duration.

Of course, you can anticipate that there will be increases in the car insurance rates for impaired drivers that also depend on the nature of the incident.

What is a DUI charge and how is it different from a DWI charge?

As mentioned earlier, there are some differences between a DUI and DWI. The difference depends to your level of intoxication or impairment and if there were any major injuries in an accident resulting from your impairment.

Most states have three intoxication levels. The first is the minimum limit which varies by state and typically falls around a BAC of 0.02. The next is the standard legal limit of 0.08.

Lastly, there is a so-called cut-off point where there may be additional penalties for driving while well over the limit. This level also varies by state, but is often around 0.15 — or nearly double the legal limit.

In Florida, the punishments for a 0.15 BAC would be the same as if you had a minor in the vehicle, with both fines and imprisonment as possibilities. This type of infraction would result in a DWI charge.

A DUI charge, on the other hand, typically falls near the 0.08 limit. For example, if you were just slightly above 0.08, you could be jailed until you sobered up.

Florida won’t release someone who recorded a DUI unless they are no longer intoxicated, have a BAC of 0.05, or they have waited a minimum of eight hours. These policies also vary by state.

What is a DUI resulting in death?

A DUI resulting in death is simply an event in which an intoxicated driver kills another person and/or an unborn child. This could be a pedestrian, another driver, or a passenger.

A DUI resulting in death is one of the most serious driving offenses. The penalties vary by state.

In short, DUI manslaughter is a major offense because it is considered a criminally negligent event that results in the death of another person. This means that you were purposefully breaking the law while it occurred. 

In many states, DUI manslaughter, or DUI resulting in death, can be classified similarly to second-degree murder. There are different punishments in each state based on some of the following factors:

  • Proven negligence
  • Accidental or purposeful
  • State felony classification
  • Previous offenses
  • Awareness of event

Fines and prison sentences for DUI vary by state. Some states consider a DUI resulting in death a serious crime.

For example, Maryland’s vehicular homicide punishment is a maximum of five years in prison while Illinois requires a minimum of six years, but a maximum of 28. 

Some states have additional stipulations that could influence the jury’s verdict and the judge’s ultimate punishment. If you were charged with DUI manslaughter in Florida and you did not attempt to render aid to the dying person involved, your prison sentence could be doubled.

In short, it’s important to check your state’s DUI laws to get a better idea of the punishments associated with a DUI or DWI.

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Key Takeaways About DUIs

A DUI has potentially life-changing penalties if you are convicted. The penalties are dependent on the result of your intoxicated driving, any previous offenses, and any resulting serious injuries or deaths.

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