DUI vs OWI [Key Differences Explained]


DUI vs OWI terms are often used interchangeably in written and spoken discussions regarding driving under the influence. The majority of them believe that both terms refer to the same crime. They both refer to driving under alcohol, but there are subtle variances between them.

Although DUI vs OWI are frequently used equally, they might have somewhat different meanings. The exact distinction between a DUI and DWI charge depends on the state, but what’s vital is that each crime may affect your driving record, insurance premiums, and – most critically – your life and the lives of others. Let’s examine what you need to know from them in general and their significant distinctions.

Definitions Simplified

DUI: is an abbreviation for “driving while under the influence.”

OWI: stands for operating when drunk, which is a legal penalty for drunk driving.


Driving while intoxicated (DUI) is found to possess a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or above in many jurisdictions.Driving while drunk is a crime in a number of nations, including the United States (OWI).
Driving while drunk is a crime in a number of nations, including the United States (OWI). It is the official legal phrase used in several countries.Whether you have two offenses for any violation, your third conviction will be considered a Class E felony with the consequences of 1 to 5 years in imprisonment.

Key Differences


  • “Driving under the influence” is referred to as “DUI.” Driving under the influence (DUI) in several states is defined as doing so with a BAC over the legal limit. Driving while impaired (DUI) is another term for driving while intoxicated in different jurisdictions.
  • Driving under the intoxicated may impair your judgment, reduce your response time, alter your depth perception, and put everybody on the road, including yourself, in danger. Therefore, it is unlawful to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher; in Utah, it is prohibited to drive with a BAC of 0.05 percent or more. However, the precise definitions and punishments for this infraction differ by state.


  • OWI is a broader phrase that relates to drunk driving and activities when a driver is ineffective driving, meaning the driver can operate the vehicle even when it is not in motion.
  • The OWI charge was intended to include circumstances in which an impaired driver is in physical control of the vehicle (by sitting in it). A DUI charge may not apply if the driver is not operating the car; the OWI charge counters this claim.

OWI vs DUI Laws & Penalties by State

StateLaws & Penalties
IowaIn DUI vs OWI Iowa, the penalties for a first offense of OWI include prison time between 48 hours and one year, fines between $625 and $1,250, and license suspension for 180 days. A person may be convicted of OWI in Iowa even if not driving the car. If the driver is drunk, maintaining the engine running is usually sufficient to warrant OWI charge.
MassachusettsThrough DUI vs OWI Massachusetts, a first-time OUI crime is punishable by up to 2 12 years in prison, a fine between $500 and $5,000, and a one-year license suspension. In Massachusetts, someone may be prosecuted with OUI even though they're not operating the car. If the vehicle is parked, stopped, or idling, the driver may be charged with OUI if they are inebriated.
WisconsinIn DUI vs OWI Wisconsin, the consequences for the first offense of OWI include a penalty ranging between $150 to $300 and a six- to nine-month license suspension.
MichiganFirst-time OWI offenders in DUI vs OWI Michigan risk $100 to $500 in fines, up to 93 days in prison, 360 community service hours, and a 30-day license suspension followed by 150 days of license restrictions.
IndianaIn DUI vs OWI Indiana, the first conviction of OWI is punishable by up to 60 days in prison, a $500 fine, and a 60-day license suspension.

Is OWI a more serious offense than DUI in Wisconsin?

DUI vs OWI offences

There is no difference in terms of penalties or consequences. Multiple acronyms exist for these offenses because various states use different terms for referring to driving under the influence.

Can an OWI conviction be wiped in Wisconsin?

No, there is no amnesty possible. It may be possible to appeal a conviction and then have a conviction reversed and completely wiped from your record, but OWI cannot be expunged.

Do Read DUI Vs OVI

Can a DUI be mitigated?

DUI vs OWI difference

When the BAC is close to 0.08 percent or when there are deficiencies in the prosecutor’s evidence against the defendant, the prosecution often offers to negotiate a lesser charge of OWI for first-time offenders.


Drinking while driving is a severe infraction, with OWI and DUI Penalties rising in severity throughout the country as states keep trying to limit the number of injuries and fatalities on the nation’s roadways. A charge for drunk driving can cost you an astonishing amount of money, both immediately and even in the long run, regardless of the specific designation. Understand your rights; Exercise your legal protections; maintain your freedom.

E.A. Gjelten
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