What Is The Difference Between a DUI and OWI?

August 29, 2022

A significant difference exists between DUI and OWI crimes. As drivers, we all need to know which states follows OWI or DUI laws and what might happen if a police officer accuses us of such crimes. Here’s some information on DUI versus OWI and what it can mean for you as a driver. 

The Difference Between DUI and OWI

Both of the above terms are related to drunk driving, but they can also include other substances. Some states use the terms to refer to a wider net than simply driving while under the influence. 

The DUI acronym refers to driving under the influence, and the OWI acronym stands for operating (a vehicle) while intoxicated. Both of them describe the same thing, but some states have more restrictive provisions for them. Also, no state uses both terms to describe such offenses. Your state will use one term or the other uniformly when referencing violations regarding vehicular intoxication crimes. 

How State Laws Vary

It’s crucial to check your state laws to read the rules regarding operating a vehicle under the influence. In Georgia, for example, a driver can receive a citation for sitting in a parked car while intoxicated if the engine is on.

That’s not all, however. Georgia drivers can still receive a citation if they have their keys in the ignition, but the engine isn’t running. The local authorities refer to this as being "under control of a vehicle." Other states may be more lenient regarding vehicle operation. Thus, drivers might only be subject to DUI or OWI citations and penalties if they are caught driving a vehicle on a road. 

Prescription Drugs and Medications

Many drivers aren’t aware of this, but prescription drugs and medication can subject them to the same harsh penalties as operating under the influence of alcohol. That’s why most medication bottles have a warning on them about driving a vehicle and operating machinery.

Medications can affect one’s judgment and reaction time as severely as drinking too much beer, liquor, or wine. Thus, drivers must read the laws pertaining to prescription medications and driving, as many authorities consider medication fogginess as being under the influence. 

The Variance in the Laws

Each state also has a distinct set of consequences for a driver convicted of DUI or OWI. Many of them have predetermined mandatory jail time, fines, programs, and licensing restrictions in place for those convicted of such misdemeanors. 

A person in Florida can receive up to six months for a first offense of driving while intoxicated. The car operator may also have his or her license revoked from six months to a year. Additionally, it may be mandatory for that driver to have an ignition interlock system installed in the vehicle. 

You can avoid receiving a DUI or OWI charge by being responsible when drinking and allowing someone else to operate your vehicle. You can also reduce your chances of receiving a charge by staying home when you are on medication or contacting a transportation provider for help. 

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K.J. Law P.A.