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      Drunk Driving Abbreviations: A Guide to DUI, DWI, OVI & More

      Facing a drunk driving charge can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. The legal process is complex, and the terminology associated with impaired driving charges can add to the confusion. Whether you're trying to decipher DUI vs. DWI, or OVI vs. DUI, we'll break down and explain the different drunk driving abbreviations and why understanding each matters.

      DUI vs. DWI

      The terms "DUI" (Driving Under the Influence) and "DWI" (Driving While Impaired) are the two most commonly used terms by states to describe the crime of impaired driving. Outside of courthouses, DUI is frequently used across the country to describe impaired driving. However, the technical legal meanings can vary significantly from state to state or by jurisdiction. In some areas, there may be distinct legal definitions and implications for both DUI and DWI.2 

      Common Abbreviations for Drunk Driving Charges

      When it comes to drunk driving, different states use different acronyms, each reflecting specific legal nuances. The most commonly encountered drunk driving abbreviations are DUI, DWI, OVI, OWI, and OUI. Here’s what each stands for:

      DUI (Driving Under the Influence)

      General Definition: The DUI meaning generally refers to driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, impairing the driver's ability to operate the vehicle safely.

      Usage: DUI is a widely used term across the United States and is recognized in many states as the primary abbreviation for impaired driving charges.

      DWI (Driving While Impaired)

      Definition: Driving While Impaired (DWI) is also a term for driving a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. In some jurisdictions, DWI might imply a higher level of intoxication or a more severe offense than DUI.1

      Usage: The usage of DWI varies by state, and some states use DWI exclusively, while others use it interchangeably with DUI. In some jurisdictions, DWI might indicate a higher level of intoxication or a more severe offense.

      Rhode Island uses both DUI and DWI. The choice of term depends on the age of the driver.5

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      OVI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired)

      Definition: OVI is a term used to describe impaired driving offenses in Ohio. Unlike the more commonly used terms such as DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), which focus on the act of driving, OVI has a broader scope. It includes any operation of a vehicle, not just driving.

      Usage: Ohio exclusively uses the term OVI to refer to impaired driving offenses. In Ohio, the term encompasses situations where an individual is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. The term reflects a legal approach that extends beyond driving and includes any operation of a vehicle, such as sitting in a parked car.6

      OWI (Operating While Impaired)

      Definition: OWI stands for Operating While Impaired and encompasses operating any vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. Unlike DUI and DWI, which are primarily associated with driving, OWI covers a broader spectrum of vehicle operation. This can include operating non-traditional vehicles such as bicycles and boats, under the influence.

      Usage: OWI is used predominantly in states like Iowa and Wisconsin to enforce laws against operating any form of transportation while impaired. In these states, OWI may carry similar or sometimes more severe legal consequences compared to DUI or DWI, emphasizing the seriousness of operating any vehicle while impaired.

      OUI (Operating Under the Influence)

      Definition: OUI is a term used in Maine and Massachusetts to denote impaired driving due to alcohol or drugs. It broadens the scope beyond just driving, encompassing any operation of a vehicle while under the influence. Unlike terms like DUI or DWI, which specifically refer to driving, OUI extends its reach to any operation of a vehicle. This includes scenarios where an individual may be in physical control of a vehicle even if it's not in motion.

      Usage: Massachusetts and Maine commonly use OUI instead of or in conjunction with other terms like DUI or DWI. 3 4

      Impaired Driving Acronyms by State

      Map of the United States showing impaired driving acronyms used by state
      State Abbreviation Meaning
      Alabama DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Alaska OUI Operating Under the Influence
      Arizona DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Arkansas DUI
      DWI
      Driving Under the Influence
      Driving While Impaired
      California DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Colorado DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Connecticut DUI
      DWI
      OUI
      Driving Under the Influence
      Driving While Impaired
      Operating Under the Influence
      Delaware DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Florida DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Georgia DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Hawaii OVUII Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant
      Idaho DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Illinois DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Indiana OWI Operating While Impaired
      Iowa OWI Operating While Impaired
      Kansas DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Kentucky DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Louisiana DWI Driving While Impaired
      Maine OUI Operating Under the Influence
      Maryland DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Massachusetts OUI Operating Under the Influence
      Michigan OWI Operating While Impaired
      Minnesota DWI Driving While Impaired
      Mississippi DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Missouri DWI Driving While Impaired
      Montana DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Nebraska DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Nevada DUI Driving Under the Influence
      New Hampshire DWI Driving While Impaired
      New Jersey DWI Driving While Impaired
      New Mexico DWI Driving While Impaired
      New York DWAI Driving While Ability Impaired
      North Carolina DWI Driving While Impaired
      North Dakota DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Ohio OVI Operating a Vehicle Impaired
      Oklahoma DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Oregon DUII Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants
      Pennsylvania DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Rhode Island DUI
      DWI
      Driving Under the Influence
      Driving While Impaired
      South Carolina DUI Driving Under the Influence
      South Dakota DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Tennessee DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Texas DWI Driving While Impaired
      Utah DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Vermont DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Virginia DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Washington DUI Driving Under the Influence
      West Virginia DUI Driving Under the Influence
      Wisconsin OWI Operating While Impaired
      Wyoming DUI Driving Under the Influence

      The choice of different drunk driving abbreviations can matter due to the legal nuances and implications associated with each term. Individuals facing drunk driving charges should work closely with legal professionals who are familiar with the specific terminology and legal landscape in their jurisdiction to ensure a comprehensive and effective defense.

      Understanding the Penalties for Drunk Driving in Your State

      The penalties for impaired driving vary widely by state and can include fines, license suspension, and mandatory educational programs. More severe or repeated offenses may lead to significant jail time. An increasingly common measure is the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), which requires the driver to perform a breath test before starting the vehicle, ensuring they are not under the influence of alcohol. If you're facing a drunk driving charge, considering an ignition interlock device might be a proactive step towards regaining your driving privileges and complying with your state's legal requirements.

      Intoxalock's state specialists can help you determine what you need to do and help find an installation location near you. Call (833) 623-0200. or fill out a form to get a free quote.

      References

      1 U.S. Department of Transportation. (2019). Impaired driving laws, enforcement and prevention. https://www.transportation.gov/mission/health/Impaired-Driving-Laws-Enforcement-and-Prevention

      2 Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Driving under the influence (DUI). Cornell Law School. Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/driving_under_the_influence_(dui)

      3 Maine Legislature. (n.d.). Maine Revised Statutes Title 29-A, §2411: Operating under the influence. Retrieved from https://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/29-A/title29-Asec2411.html

      4 Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (n.d.). Alcohol and drug suspensions for over 21 years of age. Retrieved from https://www.mass.gov/info-details/alcohol-and-drug-suspensions-for-over-21-years-of-age

      5 Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles. (n.d.). Rhode Island DMV: License suspensions. Retrieved from https://dmv.ri.gov/node/1381

      6 Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. (n.d.). First offense suspension. Retrieved from https://www.bmv.ohio.gov/susp-ad-first-offense.aspx

      Topics:
      Drunk Driving DUI DWI

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      Solicitud de contacto en Espanol

      By clicking the button, you consent to Consumer Safety Technology, LLCConsumer Safety Technology, LLC companies include Intoxalock, DUI.org, DUICare and its affiliate Breathe Easy Insurance Solutions, LLC calling and texting at the telephone number provided, without regard to the time of day, to encourage the purchase or lease of DUI-related products and services, including through the use of automated technology, artificial voice and/or pre-recorded means. Consent is not a condition of purchase. For California residents, click here.