Driving is not a right, but a privilege. Therefore, if a driver does not obey the state and federal laws regarding road safety, the driver can lose his driver’s license. In addition to the legal consequences, there are additional consequences that a driver may meet if they are charged with a crime, especially if the driver is charged with a DUI or DWI. This article breaks down the definitions and consequences surrounding a DUI and DWI charge.

What is the technical difference between a DUI and a DWI?

DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence and falls under the Vehicle Code Section 23152. “Under the influence” refers to alcohol and/or drugs. Drugs include prescription, over-the-counter, and illegal drugs.

DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired. This charge typically refers to driving after consuming alcohol. A Blood Alcohol Content test (BAC) will determine the amount of alcohol in the driver’s system at the time of the arrest. If the BAC is 0.08% or more, the driver will be charged with a DUI or DWI because 0.08% is the legal limit.

A driver can be charged with a DUI or DWI for operating a vehicle in a manner that is unsafe for himself and others. 

For example, if a driver is driving while impaired and hits a tree, the driver broke the law even though he did not harm another person.


Which is worse DUI or DWI

It depends because some states treat these terms as separate offenses while others consider these terms to be interchangeable. In California, a DUI and a DWI are considered to be the same offense. Therefore, the penalty for these offenses is the same.

The penalty for a DUI when treated as a misdemeanor offense is probation as well as a fine. In some circumstances, the driver may also receive jail time – up to a year. In addition, the judge can suspend the driver’s license and/or require the completion of community service.

If the DUI is treated as a felony offense, the penalty is a fine as well as a prison sentence of up to five years.

Am I required to tell my car insurance provider that I was convicted of a DUI?

In California, you are not required to tell your car insurance provider that you were convicted of a DUI. However, when it’s time to renew the policy, the provider can change the terms of the policy as a result of the DUI conviction. The provider can learn about the DUI because it will be made public after the conviction.

How Much Do Car Insurance Rates Go Up After a DUI 

When a driver is charged with a DUI, their car insurance provider will treat them differently. And with good reason – the driver is now considered to be a riskier client because they got behind the wheel while intoxicated. If the driver were to get into an accident as a result of being intoxicated, the insurance provider would need to pay for any damages incurred. For this reason, a driver’s car insurance rates will increase as a result of a DUI conviction.

In California, a driver’s car insurance rate could increase by more than 100% (between 135%-185%) as a result of a DUI conviction. The exact percentage is determined by the driver’s insurance provider.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Insurance Record

In California, a driver can expect their DUI conviction to stay on their insurance record for up to 10 years. California is one of the toughest states on drivers with DUI convictions.

Other Consequences of a DUI

  • Some drivers are not permitted to drive after being charged with a DUI because of a license suspension. As a result, the ex-driver will need to find other methods of transportation.
  • If the driver is permitted to drive, they may be required to install a device that will measure the amount of alcohol or drugs on the driver’s breath. This device is costly and inconvenient to use.
  • A judge may sentence a driver to do community service for a certain amount of hours. Completing these service hours will take time away from other activities and obligations.

Note: With every subsequent DUI conviction, the harder it will be to get a low car insurance rate in addition to the increase in the penalty directed by the court.

In Sum: California treats a DUI seriously under the law. There are both legal and social consequences after one is convicted of a DUI. Both penalties come with a financial aspect attached to them.

Need Help?

Hiring a lawyer is the best way to protect yourself from a DUI conviction. The Law Office of David L. Faulkner can help you avoid the consequences of this serious offense. We’ll ensure proper handling of your case in court. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you if you’re arrested for driving under the influence.

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