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When a Drinking Problem Leads to a DUI or DWI

Drinking is considered by most Americans to be a normal aspect of a healthy social life. However, there is a large percentage of Americans who consume alcohol on an extreme and unhealthy level.

In fact, 24 million Americans consume an average of 74 drinks per week, which is around 10 drinks a day. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in six adults in the United States binge drink approximately four times a month.

It can be difficult to decipher between the fun party scene and the deeper issue of alcohol abuse or Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). However, not recognizing the signs and symptoms of a drinking problem and neglecting treatment can increase the risk of a DWI (DUI, OWI, OUI) conviction and arrest as well as potential fatalities.

What is the difference between a DUI and DWI?

The main difference between a DUI and a DWI pertains to the specific language that is used in the jurisdiction where the drunk driving offense took place in. The meaning of the acronym DWI is “driving while intoxicated” while the acronym DUI stands for “driving under the influence.”

Depending on the state that you’re charged in, DUI and DWI can be used interchangeably or one could be considered more serious than the other and carry a different set of consequences if convicted. If you are charged in a state that considers DUI and DWI to be separate charges, a DWI is usually considered the more serious offense.

What happens after a drunk driving conviction?

Being charged with a DUI or DWI can bring hardships both financially and emotionally. A DWI conviction with severe injury or a fatality is usually considered a felony. After receiving a DWI, you can expect your auto insurance rates to increase, expensive legal fees, as well as the installation of an ignition interlock device depending on the number of previous DWI convictions.

There are other non-financial costs that can come with a drunk driving arrest as well. This type of offense is part of the public domain, so personal, family, and professional lives can potentially be impacted. In fact, many well-known celebrities have had DUIs with widespread publicity surrounding their conviction. 

If fines and legal fees aren’t convincing enough, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Association reported that 10,497 people were killed in crashes involving drunk drivers in 2016 with 62% of those deaths being the drivers themselves.

How to tell if you have Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

While not every person who receives a DWI has an alcohol abuse problem, or AUD, drunk driving is a warning sign for a potential problem with alcohol consumption. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism classifies AUD as meeting two or more of their 11 criteria. Some of the criteria include:

  •  Repeatedly engaging in dangerous behaviors during or after drinking (such as driving)
  • Continuing to drink even if it is negatively affecting your relationships with family and friends
  • Drinking more or longer than you intended to
  • Having a strong urge or desire to drink
  • Not being able to decrease the amount you’re drinking after several attempts

Less than 10% of people who meet two or more of these criteria for AUD receive any sort of treatment or help. The NIAAA website offers resources for finding treatment options. Don’t let a DWI be the wake-up call for AUD.

Recognize the symptoms, either in yourself or in loved ones, and take the steps to receive help now.

Intoxalock offers affordable voluntary ignition interlock devices as preventative measures against drunk driving. Call (855) 531-5244 today to learn more about how getting an ignition interlock device can protect you and your loved ones while on the road.



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