e acronym "DWI" can mean two things: Driving While Impaired (by medications or other substances), or Driving While Intoxicated (this refers to alcohol). Both are illegal. DWI is a serious and sometimes expensive charge.
In some states, in addition to fees related to the DWI charge, an offender must pay for treatment programs. An offender must also pay to have their license reinstated at the end of the suspension.
If you are arrested for DWI, your license will immediately be suspended. After a period that differs in each state, an offender may be able to regain limited driving privileges, such as the ability to drive between certain hours, to travel to and from work.
As part of the process to reinstate driving privileges, some states require that the driver install an ignition interlocking system. This system analyzes the driver's breath and will not start if alcohol is detected.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws which make driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher illegal. There is no legal limit for people suspected of driving while impaired by medications or other substances. In this case, the factors considered are whether the substance has affected a person's reaction time and driving ability, among others.
Most over-the-counter medications can make you drowsy and impair your ability to function as an alert driver. Many states have an implied consent law, which means that when you drive, you consent to take a breath test or other field sobriety test, and if you refuse (a common tactic), your license may be suspended or face other mandatory penalties.
Painful DWI Facts
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2004, over 16,000 people were killed in alcohol related crashes in the United States . An alcohol related crash occurs approximately every two minutes in the US . Every thirty minutes someone dies from a drunk driving incident.
Most states in the US have been creating laws that are increasingly strict to combat the drunk driving problem. In Oregon for example, a first time DWI conviction carries a mandatory suspension of driving privileges for one year.
A second conviction carries a three-year suspension if the second offense occurred within five years of a previous conviction. In some states, a driver under the age of 18 convicted of DWI will lose their driving privileges until they are 18 or eligible for reinstatement, whichever comes later.