driving while intoxicated

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Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is the crime of driving a motor vehicle after consuming enough alcohol to raise the blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit. A showing of complete intoxication is not necessary to support a charge of driving while intoxicated. State laws indicate levels of blood-alcohol content at which an individual is deemed to be under the influence of alcohol. For example, in New York, for a driver to be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), a .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or higher or other evidence of intoxication is needed. For drivers of commercial motor vehicles, a .04 BAC or other evidence of intoxication is needed.

Some states refer to DWI as DUI (Driving under influence). Whereas other states differentiate between a DUI and a DWI, where the DUI is a lesser charge.

[Last updated in August of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team