Many people ask me what’s the difference between a DUI and an OWI. I don’t lessen any confusion because I use both acronyms a lot on my website.
DUI stands for driving under the influence. OWI stands for operating while intoxicated.
Both phrases mean the same thing, which is a term for the crime drinking and driving (or drugged driving). The phrase operating while intoxicated is the correct term from a legal standpoint. However, the phrase driving under the influence is used so often that people use it for operating while intoxicated. Perhaps other states have a law called driving under the influence on the books.
The Main Difference Between OWI and DUI
The biggest difference between OWI and DUI lies in the difference between “driving” and “operating.” I’ve discussed this difference more fully in other articles, such as What is the “Operating”in Operating While Intoxicated? The act of operating encompasses more activity than simply driving. The people who wrote the law did this to ensure that drinking and driving is more than just driving.
“Operating” means actual physical control of the vehicle. We all know what driving means. Operating is more than just driving. One example of operation could be sitting in the car with your foot on the brake while the car is running. This wouldn’t necessarily be driving, but would be operation, at least according to courts.
Under the Influence v. Intoxicated
Both of these terms are found in the operating while intoxicated legal statute. Intoxicated can mean a person either has a blood alcohol content of over .08 or is “under the influence” of alcohol. “Under the Influence” means a person ability to drive is substantially effected by alcohol or drugs. So the phrases reference the same thing but in different ways.
What is Driving While Intoxicated?
Driving While Intoxicated is just another way of saying driving under the influence or operating while intoxicated.
Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Defense Attorney in Washtenaw County.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.