“DUI” stands for “driving under the influence”, and “DWI” stands for “driving while intoxicated”. The acronyms are often used interchangeably, but they both refer to operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.
From a legal standpoint, there is no difference between a DUI and DWI. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey have set penalties for driving while impaired; however, there are slight variations in those penalties depending upon the volume of alcohol by blood alcohol concentration and/or whether or not the impairment is due to controlled substances.
Penalties for DUI/DWI in Pennsylvania
All DUIs in Pennsylvania are criminal offenses graded as misdemeanors. The DUI/DWI penalties vary depending upon whether the impairment was caused by alcohol or drugs or a combination of both. In all cases, there are fines, court costs, and a requirement that the accused undergo a substance abuse evaluation and follow all recommended treatment.
There will also be a requirement for the installation of Ignition Interlock on the accused’s primary vehicle for a period of time which is dependent upon his or her blood alcohol concentration as well as whether it is a first, second, third, or subsequent offense.
Penalties for DUI/DWI in New Jersey
All DUIs in New Jersey are graded as a traffic offense, not as a crime. The DUI/DWI penalties vary depending upon the level of the offense. Every level has its own mandatory requirements:
1st offense DUI/DWI:
- minimum fine of $250
- license suspension between 3 and 12 months
- 12 hours at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Program (IDRC)
- installation of Ignition Interlock for no less than the period of license suspension, plus an additional 6 months if the blood alcohol concentration is 0.15 or greater or drugs were involved
2nd offense DUI/DWI:
- minimum fine of $500
- 2 year license suspension
- 48 hours in IDRC
- installation of Ignition Interlock for the period of license suspension plus 12 months
- discretionary community service
- possible jail time of up to 90 days
3rd offense DUI/DWI:
- minimum fine of $1,000
- 10 year license suspension
- 48 hours of IDRC
- installation of Ignition Interlock for the period of license suspension plus 3 years discretionary community service
- 180 days in jail
What happens if I am arrested for DUI/DWI?
If you are arrested for a DUI, you are taken into the custody of a law enforcement officer who will bring you to a police station or other facility to subject you to a chemical analysis of your blood, breath, and/or urine to determine whether or not you have alcohol and/or drugs in your body.
If you are charged with a DUI offense, you will receive a summon from the arresting law enforcement agency, requiring you to appear in court to answer to the charges. Penalties depend upon the offense and vary between states.
Expungement of a DUI/DWI
In Pennsylvania, it is possible to have a DUI/DWI arrest or conviction expunged. For many first time DUI arrests, the offender often enters the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program.
This program allows first time DUI offenders to serve a probationary period, pay fines, and attend alcohol and highway safety courses as an alternative to a guilty plea. When a person completes the ARD requirements, the DUI charges can be expunged with a Court Order. Without ARD, a DUI conviction can only be expunged under very limited circumstances.
In New Jersey, DUI/DWI convictions cannot be expunged. Because expungements are limited to criminal offenses and DUI/DWI charges are considered a traffic offense and not a crime, the conviction cannot be erased from a driving record. However, the charge will only be recorded on the DMV record of the driver and not on his or her criminal record.
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