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DUI, OVI, DWI, OMVI -What Is The Difference

Dayton DUI Attorney Charles Rowland > Local DUI  > DUI Lawyer  > DUI, OVI, DWI, OMVI -What Is The Difference

DUI, OVI, DWI, OMVI -What Is The Difference

What is the difference between DUI, OVI, DWI, OMVI and drunk driving? Spoiler Alert: They are all the same thing.

DUI, OVI, DWI, OMVIThis is one of the most frequently searched queries about DUI, OVI, DWI, OMVI and drunk driving defense. It really comes down to two factors. The first factor is legal smarts. The second factor is salesmanship.  Prosecutors like to have every built in advantage in DUI cases. Over time the public understanding of the various acronyms has caused problems.

DWI – Driving While Intoxicated

DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. Prosecutors did not like the burden of proving that a defendant was driving. In addition, they did not like proving intoxication. While it is counter-intuitive, driving in Ohio law is defined much broader than actually driving a car. Also, intoxication is not required to be convicted of an offense. All the prosecutor must prove is that the accused tested over the legal limit. Thus, Ohio changed from DWI to OMVI.

OMVI – Operating A Motor Vehilcle Impaired

OMVI means “operating” a motor vehicle under the influence/while impaired. This allowed the prosecutor to expand the definition. Jury members understand operate as more inclusive than driving. Also, a moto vehicle is more expansive than “car.” “Impaired” is more inclusive. It allows prosecutors to say how actually low the bar is for conviction. It relieves the typical jury member from questioning things the prosecutor does not want them to question.

OVI – Operating A Vehicle Impaired

OVI is operating a vehicle impaired. This is the current definition of the crime of drunk driving in Ohio. Again, the prosecutor has the most expansive definition. My many years of experience shows that this re-framing of the issue is vital. Juries look to the definitions given in the jury instructions. Often, they are tethered to them in conducting deliberations. While older juries would argue whether or not the person was intoxicated, now they only have to discuss impairment.

DUI – Driving Under the Influence

DUI, Driving Under the Influence,  is a universally understood term. It encompasses the nature of what the law is seeking to prevent. No one wants people who are drunk to get behind the wheel and put people in danger. Also, no one wants to allow the state to expand the law to prevent all drinking. What smart jurists and legislators want is a balance between preventing danger and personal freedom.


Why DUI? I like to use the term DUI because it is the most universally understood.

If you find yourself facing a DUI, OVI, DWI or OMVI, please do not hesitate to contact me at (937) 318-1384. In addition, stay informed by visiting the Dayton DUI Blog. It has been voted one of the best DUI blogs in the nation. You can also check me out by visiting www.DaytonDUI.com. 

“All I Do Is DUI defense.”
Charles Rowland


Charles M. Rowland II has been representing the accused drunk driver for over 20 years. Contact him at (937) 318-1384 if you find yourself facing a DUI (now called OVI) charge.

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