DUI Vs OVI 【What’s the Difference?】


 One of the most common traffic violations in the United States is driving under the influence (DUI) and operating vehicle intoxicated (OVI). Both phrases refer to the same misdemeanor offense: driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both.  

Although they’re both “DUI”, they differ in that a DUI is traditionally referred to as “a driver operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol”. A person commits an OVI when he or she operates a motor vehicle while impaired by any intoxicating substance, which may be something apart from alcohol. Despite this traditional use, these terms are legally synonymous with almost the same penalties & charges in every state.

The most significant difference between DUI and OVI is that an OVI can include alcohol, prescription or over-the-counter drugs, or illegal drugs. Even though it’s also called an OVI, it’s not to be confused with specifically an Ohio law—which is where it’s usually referred to as an OVI (short for “operated a vehicle impaired”). You can get an OVI in any state that has laws against drunk driving.

Key Differences Simplified-DUI vs OVI

  • DUI: means driving under the influence. It commonly refers to a more specific crime known as “driving under the influence of alcohol”. But then again most of these terms are used interchangeably.
  • OVI: means operating a vehicle impaired by alcohol, drugs, or medication. It has the same meaning & penalties as a DUI.


Driving under the influence (DUI) is the criminal act of driving a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. A DUI arrest means being charged with that crime.“Operating a vehicle impaired” is nothing more than just an acronym used for driving under the influence of any form of drug that visually or/and psychologically impairs you.

Are OVI and a DUI the same?

DUI Vs OVI differences

DUI and OVI are more or less used interchangeably. OVI is an acronym for “Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence” and is a misdemeanor in many states, including Ohio. A DUI is an acronym for “Driving Under the Influence,” and it is also a misdemeanor in almost every state. However, these acronyms do not describe how you were driving or what you were impaired by (alcohol or drugs) but instead, describe what your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was at the time of your arrest.

What is an OVI charge?

DUI Vs OVI charge

An OVI charge is the same thing as a DUI charge, except it is when the drunk driver was operating a motor vehicle (motorcycle, boat, etc.) rather than a car. Different areas have different grounds for the dismissal of OVI.

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Is OVI worse than DUI?

DUI Vs OVI penalty

No, OVI is not worse than DUI as they are more or less the same. However, OVI charge Ohio and the Ohio Revised Code do provide a harsher OVI penalty for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. OVI Charges in Michigan are also relatively stricter.

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What are the chances of getting OVI reduced?

The question isn’t really how to get an OVI reduced, it’s how to get the OVI charges dropped. While the two are intertwined and there may not be a way to get the charges reduced if you don’t get the OVI dropped, the main goal here is to avoid getting a conviction for either offense in the first place.

E.A. Gjelten