DUI Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29 Americans die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver on a daily basis. To put this into better perspective, this is one death every 50 minutes. That’s a staggering statistic and a hard pill to swallow.

There is no reason to be driving under the influence. Even if you don’t get into a car accident, you still risk getting a DUI. What’s a DUI, you ask? We’ll tell you. 

Read on to discover all there is to know about DUIs, including what they are, what happens when you get one, and more.  

What Does DUI Stand For?

According to the Macmillan Dictionary, the abbreviation DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence and refers to the crime of operating a vehicle after consuming too much alcohol. In other words, a DUI is an arrest or conviction for driving under the influence. 

While the federal legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit is 0.08 percent, some states may pursue DUI charges at BAC levels of 0.01 percent, depending on the age of the driver.

What’s the Legal Limit for Blood-Alcohol Content?

In every state, it’s illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 percent or more (except in Utah, where the blood alcohol concentration limit is 0.05 percent). That said, the BAC limit can be even lower for certain motorists, such as drivers younger than 21 and commercial vehicle drivers.

What Is the Difference Between a DWI and a DUI?

DUI stands for driving under the influence, but what does the abbreviation DWI stand for? 

DWI means Driving While Impaired. 

Some states — including Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Texas — define a DWI as Driving While Intoxicated. In these states, DUI and DWI are used interchangeably. 

In addition to DUI and DWI, here are some of the other terms used to describe impaired driving offenses:

  • OWL — Operating While Intoxicated
  • OUI — Operating Under the Influence
  • OVI — Operating a Vehicle Impaired

What Are the Consequences of a DUI?

No matter what the offense is called in your state, you’ll face serious consequences if you’re arrested for drunk driving. These consequences can include:

  • Fines and fees 
  • Suspension or loss of driver’s license
  • Substance abuse counseling 
  • Probation
  • Misdemeanor
  • Increased insurance costs
  • Ignition interlock device
  • Jail time
  • Felony

If what was listed above isn’t bad enough, a DUI can stay on your record for a very long time, impacting the way potential employers view your background as well as your insurance premiums. 

How Do You Avoid a DUI or DWI?

If you decide to drink, be sure to keep your BAC low. Not sure how? Here are a few tips:

Pick a Designated Driver

Assign someone in your friend group as the designated driver of the night. This person won’t consume any alcoholic beverages and will ensure that everyone gets home safely. 

Use a Personal Alcohol Tester

If you had a drink, but feel fine to drive, consider using a personal alcohol test to see what your BAC level is. If you’re BAC is below .08, then you’re legally safe to drive. (Note: personal breathalyzers are not 100 percent accurate, so proceed with caution).

If you want to play it safe, wait a little while after a drink to get behind the wheel. You can increase your overall peace of mind by waiting an least an hour to drive after a single drink.

Drink on a Full Stomach

Drinking on an empty stomach can lead to a more rapid progression to intoxication, which may lower inhibitions and increase the likelihood of you getting behind the wheel while drunk. Before drinking alcohol, be sure to eat plenty of food to slow the absorption of alcohol in your blood.   

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Whatever you do, be sure to drink lots of H2O until you’re fully hydrated before you drink booze. It’s also wise to drink water between each alcoholic beverage you consume to help keep your BAC level low.  

What Are Some Translations of Driving Under The Influence?

Wondering how to say driving under the influence in a different language? We’ve got you covered — here’s a short list of translations for you to review:

  • Afrikaans — Bestuur onder die invloed
  • Arabic — القيادة تحت تأثير
  • Chinese (simplified) — 在影响下驾驶
  • Korean — 영향력 아래 운전
  • Norwegian — kjøring under påvirkning
  • Polish — jazda pod wpływem alkoholu
  • Portugese — dirigindo sob a influência
  • Russian — вождение в нетрезвом виде
  • Spanish — conducir bajo los efectos del alcohol
  • Bulgarian — шофиране под влияние
  • Danish — kørsel under påvirkning
  • German — Fahren unter dem Einfluss von Alkohol
  • Greek — οδήγηση υπό την επήρεια
  • Italian — guidare sotto l’influenza
  • Japanese — 影響下での運転
  • Dutch — rijden onder invloed
  • Finnish — ajaminen vaikutuksen alaisena
  • Swedish — körning under påverkan
  • Thai — ขับรถภายใต้อิทธิพล
  • Turkish — etkisi altında sürüş
  • Ukrainian — Водіння в нетверезому стані
  • Vietnamese — Lái xe dưới ảnh hưởng
  • French — conduite sous l’influence de l’alcool
  • Croatian — vožnja pod utjecajem alkohola
  • Czech — řízení pod vlivem alkoholu

Does DUI Stand for Anything Else?

Although our word of the day most commonly refers to driving under the influence, the acronym DUI can stand for a few other things, including:

  • Dial-Up Internet
  • Diagrammatic User Interface
  • Distributed User Interface
  • Data Under Interface
  • Digital User Interface
  • Democratic Union for Integration (The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)
  • Distinctive Unit Insignia (US Army)
  • Driving Unlimited International, Inc.
  • Davis Unified Ignition

A Final Word

Driving under the influence is dangerous, but there’s more to it than that. A DUI conviction can stay on your record and influence your car insurance premiums for several years, causing trouble for a long time.

It’s costly, embarrassing, and 100 percent avoidable — especially with ridesharing being as popular as it is today. With apps like Uber and Lyft, there’s really no reason why anyone should be getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol.


Impaired Driving: Get the Facts : Motor Vehicle Safety | CDC Injury Center

DUI (abbreviation) definition and synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary

DUI – What does DUI stand for? | The Free Dictionary