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What do DUI-DWI-OUI-OWI Stand For?

State laws vary in the handling of individuals arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol or other impairing substances. As a result, various acronyms have been used by the states to classify the charge of driving under the influence.

What Are The Different Acronyms Used By The States?

  • DUI (Driving Under The Influence): This is the most commonly used acronym and refers primarily to alcohol, but may encompass use of drugs or other impairing substances.
  • DWI (Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired): Another commonly used acronym that, in most states, is identical to driving under the influence.
  • OUI (Operating Under The Influence): While DUI/DWI are the most commonly used acronyms, most states are referring to operating under the influence when using those terms. Operating is broader than driving because a person can be in a parked vehicle and may be considered to be operating the vehicle if the engine is on.  A small group of states, such a Massachusetts, employ OUI rather than DUI.
  • OWI (Operating While Intoxicated): Primarily referred to in states such as Iowa and Wisconsin, operating while intoxicated is just another variation of the three terms listed above.
  • OMVI (Operating A Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated): This acronym appears in Ohio case and state law and is again another variation on the above terms.
  • DUIL (Driving Under The Influence of Liquor): This is a narrowly applied acronym, referring specifically to the influence of alcohol, and does not appear as frequently as the previous terms.
  • DUII (Driving Under The Influence Of An Intoxicant): Like a DUIL, this term does not appear as frequently as the others, but may crop up from time to time.
  • DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired): This term appears in Colorado and New York case and statutory law and is a lesser charge than a DUI/DWI. In New York, for example, a person may receive a DWAI for an alcohol content between .05 and .07 percent, whereas, alcohol content of .08 or higher will result in a DUI/DWI charge.
  • DWUI (Driving While Under The Influence): Similar to the first five terms, this term may appear in Wyoming case or statutory law.

Are There Differing Penalties For The Different Drunk Driving Acronyms?

The drunk driving acronyms are more of a convention used to describe or classify the general crime of driving under the influence. Except for DWAI, which has different penalty classifications in New York and Colorado, the above terms will have the penalties associated with the states' laws for driving under the influence.

Do I Need A Drunk Driving Attorney?

There are numerous attorneys specializing in driving under the influence charges whether it is a OWI charge in Wisconsin, a OMVI charge in Ohio, or a DWUI charge in Wyoming.  Hiring an experienced criminal attorney will assist you in resolving your driving under the influence charge.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 05-15-2018 12:59 AM PDT

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