What is the difference between an OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence)?

person driving behind steering wheel of car with bottle of alcohol

Both DUI and OWI are acronyms for drunk driving offenses. DWI is another commonly used acronym but it has different interpretations depending on what state you are in. For example, in North Carolina, it means Driving While Impaired but in Texas, it means Driving While Intoxicated. Other states have chosen to use additional different acronyms such as OVI, DUII, DWUI, and OUI, but in general, it is all the same crime of drunk driving.

In Michigan, the appropriate legal acronym is “OWI” but DUI is still commonly used. Michigan uses OWI because when someone is charged with a drunk driving offense, they are generally charged with an Operating While Intoxicated offense. In 1999, Michigan drunk driving laws where changed to broaden the types of offenses that one could engage in. This led to the change in acronyms used for drunk driving offenses from OUIL and UBAL to OWI. With this change in law, an OWI can be proven when a prosecutor shows, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person operating the vehicle was either operating under the influence of liquor or while having an unlawful bodily alcohol level. Both of these terms can be used interchangeably, but you will most commonly hear our attorneys use “OWI”.

If you have been charged with a DUI/OWI in Grand Rapids, Michigan it's crucial you hire an experienced criminal attorney. At Tanis Schultz, PLLC our attorneys have years of successful results for our clients with these charges. Contact us at 616-227-3737 to arrange a free case evaluation with a Grand Rapids DUI/OWI defense lawyer.

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