The Difference Between DUI and DWT is….?

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on August 11th, 2009

A rash of recent studies confirm that DWT (driving while texting) is more dangerous than DUI.  For that matter, so is driving while talking on a cell phone.  See, for example,  my previous posts Inebriated or Texting: Which is More Dangerous While Driving?  and Feds Crack Down on DUI…and Cover Up DWT

Presumably, the punishment for DWT reflects the greater danger, right?

Wrong.  Think $50 fine.  In fact, in most states DWT isn’t even a crime. 

Real Penalties Would Deter Cell Use and Texting While Driving

Los Angeles, CA.  – There are some 270 million cell phones in the U.S. at the moment (out of a population of some 307 million people). Of those who drive, nearly 50 percent say that it’s dangerous to use cell phones or similar devices while driving. However, 80 percent of drivers told researchers they’ve talked on their cell phone while driving, and nearly one in five said they had read or typed text messages while driving. Perhaps they think it’s only dangerous for the other guy…

Every state has laws – and severe penalties – for driving while drunk, yet only five ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Fourteen states, including California, ban texting while driving, and it’s a miracle that those states have texting laws at all. Cell phone companies, with the exception of Verizon, pay lip service to the dangers of driving while talking and texting, but their lobbyists know which buttons to push when laws are introduced.

Then there is the matter of enforcement and fines, which tend to be lax and symbolic, at best. In California, where the use of hand-held phones and texting have only recently been outlawed, the fine for a first offense is $20; for the second offense it’s $50. Even though court costs can triple those fines, that’s not a deterrent. Not when a driver who runs a red light and gets his picture taken by a red light camera can pay fines of $500 and more and acquire a point on his DMV record. Drivers who text don’t get a point, and most don’t get the point.

So what’s the difference between DUI and DWT?  In a word:  alcohol.  Prohibitionist groups like MADD don’t like alcohol.  Add alcohol to the dangerous driving and the punishment jumps from a $50 fine to jail time, license suspensions, $1500 fines, long DUI schools, ignition interlock devices, probation and more.  And that doesn’t include attorneys’ fees, increased car insurance for years, and the possible loss of job, professional licensing or security clearances.  And then there’s the criminal record….

Ever wonder why MADD constantly touts the traffic fatality figures for DUI — but remains silent on the figures for DWT…and still hasn’t taken a stand against driving while talking or texting?

  • standup

    MADD will tell you themselves that they couldn’t care less about texting or cell phone talking while driving. Their beef is with alcohol and driving. They don’t want the public to know how DUI deaths stack up against other causes of traffic fatalities however do they Don ?

  • dsevv

    DWT is definitely the lesser known killer. thanks for the post.

    - Dan from DUI Lawyer Los Angeles

  • dsevv

    Forgot to say, MADD is crazy insane with their statistics! ass backwards in some cases (such as this one!)
    -Dan from DUI Lawyer Los Angeles

  • dui-conspiracy

    Your post gives more insight into the DUI conspiracy that has been going on in this country for quite some time now. You get a $20 or $50 ticket for texting while driving, yet you can lose up to $10,000 for having a couple of beers at your local bar after work and get stopped at a dui checkpoint. Even though your not drunk, you get a dui. Please visit my blog:

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