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DUIs, DWIs, and related charges almost always result in increased car insurance premiums and license suspension.[1] Because states define these terms differently, the specific terms vary and may carry different implications.

Here’s what you need to know about traffic laws in your state, including the differences between DUIs, DWIs, and similar charges; what penalties and fines you may encounter; and how long your license might be suspended in each state.

DUI vs. DWI: What’s the difference?

A DUI charge stands for “driving under the influence,” while a DWI charge stands for “driving while impaired or intoxicated.” Though these terms refer to the same charge in some states, DUIs and DWIs have distinct meanings elsewhere.

State laws vary, but a DUI charge can be more serious than a DWI charge in states with both charges. People typically face charges when caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limits set by the state. If you’re convicted of either one of these crimes, you’ll likely face severe consequences. 

Common penalties for a DUI or DWI conviction include higher insurance rates, fines, license suspension, and possible jail time.

Important Information:

In every state, drivers are considered intoxicated with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. In most states, the limit for drivers of commercial vehicles is lower — 0.04%, according to the American Addiction Centers.[2]


Some states use terms similar to DUI and DWI, like OUI and OWI. An OUI charge stands for “operating under the influence,” while an OWI charge means “operating while intoxicated.” Both terms refer to charges similar to DUI and DWI charges. The following states use this terminology:

  • Connecticut

  • Indiana

  • Maine 

  • Massachusetts

  • Michigan 

  • New Hampshire

  • Wisconsin


OWVI means “operating while visibly impaired,” while DUAC means “driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration.” These also carry similar meanings to DUI and DWI charges.

If you’re in South Carolina, you can be charged with a DUAC if you’re driving with a 0.08% BAC or greater.[3] In Michigan, you can be charged with an OWVI if caught driving under the influence of alcohol or another controlled substance.

DUI and DWI laws by state

Below is a table that breaks down the laws for DUI, DWI, and related charges in each state, sourced from official state government websites and state driving laws published by NOLO.[4] In the column for penalties, you’ll see required fines and points added (where applicable) to the driver’s record following the incident.

StateViolation TypePenaltiesLength of License Suspension
AlabamaDUI$600 to $2,100; 6 points90 days
AlaskaDUI$1,500; 10 points90 days
ArizonaDUI$250; 8 points90 to 360 days
ArkansasDUI and DWI$150 to $1,000; 14 points6 months
CaliforniaDUI$1,400 to $2,600; 2 points30 days to 10 months
ColoradoDUI and DWAIMax of $1,000 and 12 points for DUI; Max of $500 and 8 points for DWAI9 months for DUI
ConnecticutDUI, OUI, and DWI$500 to $1,000; 3 points12 months
DelawareDUI$500 to $1,15012 to 24 months
FloridaDUI$500 to $2,000180 days to 1 year
GeorgiaDUI$300 to $1,000; 3 points1 year
HawaiiOVII$150 to $1,00090 days
IdahoDUIMax of $1,00090 to 189 days
IllinoisDUIMax of $2,5001 year
IndianaOWI$500 to $5,000; 8 pointsUp to 2 years
IowaOWI$625 to $1,200; 4 points180 days
KansasDUI$750 to $1,00030 days
KentuckyDUI$600 to $2,10090 days
LouisianaDWI and OWI$1,00090 days
MaineOUI$500; 2 points90 days
MarylandDUI and DWIMax of $1,000 for DUI; max of $500 for DWI; 12 points6 months
MassachusettsOUI$500 to $5,000; 5 points1 year
MichiganOWI and OWVI$100 to $500; 6 points6 months
MinnesotaDWI$1,00090 days
MississippiDUI$250 to $1,00090 days
MissouriDWIMax of $500; 8 points30 days
MontanaDUI$300 to $1,000; 10 points6 months
NebraskaDUIMax of $500; 6 points60 days
NevadaDUI$400 to $1,00090 days
New HampshireDUI and OUI$500 to $1,200; 6 points6 months
New JerseyDWI$250 to $5003 months to 1 year
New MexicoDWIMax of $500Up to 1 year
New YorkDWI and DWAI$500 to $1,0006 months
North CarolinaDWI$200 (level 5 offender)60 days to 1 year
North DakotaDUI$500 to $75091 to 180 days
OhioOVI$250 to $1,000; 6 points6 months to 3 years
OklahomaDUI and DWIMax of $1,00030 days
OregonDUI$1,000 to $6,2501 year
PennsylvaniaDUI$30012 months for second DUI
Rhode IslandDUI$100 to $5002 to 8 months
South CarolinaDUAC and DUI$400 to $1,0006 months
South DakotaDUI$1,000; 10 points30 days to 1 year
TennesseeDUI$350 to $1,5001 year
TexasDWIMax of $2,00090 to 365 days
UtahDUIMinimum of $700120 days
VermontDUIMax of $75090 days
VirginiaDUIMinimum of $250; 6 points1 year
WashingtonDUI$865.50 to $5,00090 days to 1 year
Washington, D.C.DUI and DWI$300 to $1,100; 12 points6 months
West VirginiaDUI$100 to $1,00015 to 45 days
WisconsinOWI$150 to $300; 6 points6 to 9 months
WyomingDUIMax of $75090 days

See More: Cheapest Car Insurance for a Bad Driving Record

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How long a DUI stays on your record

A DUI will stay on your record for at least five years, but how long a DUI remains on your record after that depends on the state you live in. In most states, a DUI charge remains on your criminal record for seven to 10 years.[5] Other states, like Indiana, Colorado, and Massachusetts, require a DUI charge to remain on your record permanently.

How a DUI affects insurance rates

Whether you live in a state where DUI charges stay on your record permanently or just for five years, you’ll face increased auto insurance rates. Auto insurers view your driving record as an indicator of risk levels and your likelihood of filing claims. So a severe charge, like reckless driving or a DUI, will make them view you as a high-risk driver. Beyond earning higher rates for yourself, you may also face insurers unwilling to take you on as a policyholder due to your record.[1]

Not technically insurance, an SR-22 form is a certificate that provides proof to your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) that you meet minimum insurance requirements. If your license is suspended after a DUI or DWI, your state will likely require an SR-22 form from your insurer before reinstating your license or renewing your vehicle registration.[6] Some insurers don’t offer these forms, so you’ll have to confirm with your current or future auto insurer that they do.

DUIs and DWIs FAQs

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about DUIs and DWIs.

  • What’s the main difference between a DUI and DWI?

    A DUI and DWI are interchangeable in some states, but these terms have different meanings in states that charge for them separately.

    For example, a DUI charge could mean you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. By comparison, DWI means you were driving while intoxicated by alcohol or under the influence of a controlled substance.

  • How many points is a DUI?

    The number of points that are placed on your driving record after a DUI varies by state, but some states don’t use point systems at all. If you live in California, two points will be added to your record. But if you’re convicted of a DUI in Arkansas, 14 points will be added to your record.

  • Is a DWI worse than DUI?

    The answer to this question depends on where you live. In states that charge separately for a DUI and DWI, a DWI is typically a more serious charge. But if you live in Maryland, a DUI is the more serious offense.

  • What happens when you get a DUI?

    When you get a DUI, a police officer usually pulls you over because they suspect you’re driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. If the officer determines they have probable cause to arrest you for DUI, they’ll likely take you to a nearby jail or police station. They may give you a breathalyzer test during the stop to determine probable cause.

    Afterward, you can resolve the matter by accepting a plea deal or going to trial. A DUI can remain on your record for seven to 10 years in most states if you’re found guilty. Specific penalties — like fees, license suspension, points, and jail time — vary by state.

  • What is a high BAC for a DUI?

    The typical BAC threshold in the United States is 0.08%. The BAC limit, however, is much lower for drivers younger than 21 — generally ranging from 0% to 0.02%.

    You can receive harsher penalties for having a BAC above a certain amount. For instance, if you’re convicted of a DUI in Alabama with a BAC of 0.15% or higher, you’ll receive a much more significant punishment than a BAC under 0.15%.

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Data scientists at Insurify analyzed more than 40 million real-time auto insurance rates from our partner providers across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. Quotes for Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and USAA are estimates based on Quadrant Information Service's database of auto insurance rates. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how companies price their car insurance premiums.


  1. Insurance Information Institute. "What if I can't find auto coverage?." Accessed January 18, 2023
  2. American Addiction Centers. "Legal Alcohol Limits." Accessed January 20, 2023
  3. South Carolina Department of Public Safety. "SC Laws Relative to Impaired Driving." Accessed February 12, 2023
  4. NOLO. "DUI Laws by State." Accessed January 12, 2023
  5. NOLO. "How Long Will a DUI Conviction be on my Record?." Accessed January 18, 2023
  6. NOLO. "SR-22 Insurance: What It Is and When It’s Required." Accessed January 18, 2023
Jerry Brown
Jerry Brown

Jerry has been writing about personal finance for over four years. He started writing about personal finance in 2017 to document his journey to get rid of thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Two years ago, he pivoted away from writing for his own blog to focus on writing for major publishers like Bankrate, Forbes Advisor and Credible. He covers a variety of topics, including insurance, debt management and personal loans.