DWI stands for “Driving While Impaired” and DUI stands for “Driving Under the Influence.” While these have slightly different wording, for legal purposes in Minnesota, there actually is not a difference between these two acronyms. The words are used interchangeably and stem from the wording the DWI statute used historically (driving under the influence vs. driving while impaired) but both mean the same thing. However, what is important is that there can be two different counts when a driver is charged with DUI / DWI (though these charges “merge” together if a person is convicted of one).

The reason is this: there is typically one “under the influence” count, and then there is a “at or above 0.08″ count when alcohol is involved. While these may appear to be the same, or at least redundant, they are not. The first count simply requires that the State prove the driver was under the influence of alcohol (or a controlled substance) while driving, and this does not require any prove of alcohol concentration. The second count, however, requires the State prove the driver was driving while having an alcohol concentration at or above 0.08, and this is regardless of whether it can be proved they were “under the influence.” These different standards of proof are the reason drivers are charged with two counts of DUI…or is it DWI? Again, that is not the important part.

If you are charged with driving under the influence, do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney. DWI is a complex area of law. For more FAQs relating to DWI, please see more here. Also, please visit our DWI overview page here for more information.