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DUI / DWI / OUI / OWI Words

DEFINITIONS OF LEGAL TERMS ASSOCIATED WITH DRUNK DRIVING

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Drunk driving is the most common crime in America.  Like all legal matters, certain terminology and legal definitions can be confusing to non-lawyers.  This segment of the web site attempts to “demystify” these terms and phrases.  While not comprehensive, this list covers most of the more commonly used words, terms or phrases of this area of law.

DUI

This generally is interpreted as an abbreviation for driving under the influence.  By far, the most common impairing substance is ALCOHOL.  However, many states also prohibit DUI DRUGS and DUI TOXIC VAPORS (sniffing or huffing paint fumes, butane, paint thinner and similar chemicals).

DWI

The next most common acronym is DWI.  Depending on the state practice, this can be interpreted as an abbreviation for driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired.  Like DUI, many states proscribe impaired (or “intoxicated”) driving as caused by other impairing substances, drugs, plants or chemical compounds.

OUI

The next most common acronym for drunk driving is OUI.  This stands for operating under the influence.  The word “operating” is actually more encompassing (and more accurate) than “driving” because almost all states make it illegal to “operate or be in actual physical control” of a motor vehicle.  This means that you can be sitting in your car, off the side of the road, with the engine running and the car in park, and asleep, yet still be charged with OUI (or DUI or DWI, for that matter, in most states).  The states that have OUI as their acronym are Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

OWI

Another acronym for drunk driving is OWI, or operating while intoxicated.  Similar to OUI, the operative word is “operating”.  Wisconsin is the largest state using this acronym.

OMVI

OMVI (operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated) is an acronym used in Ohio from time to time, but they also use DUI.

DUIL

DUIL (driving under the influence of liquor) is used in a few states in case law.

DUII

Oregon uses DUII (driving under the influence of an intoxicant).

DWAI

In two states, Colorado and New York, the acronym “DWAI” (driving while ability impaired) is a LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE to DWI (or DUI).  These “lesser offenses” offer the person less damage to their driver’s license, and have certain benefits over pleading to the standard DUI / DWI offense.

DWUI

One state, Wyoming, uses DWUI (driving while under the influence).

DUBAL

Finally, two other acronyms crop up in cases occasionally.  DUBAL or UBAL is a type of DUI / DWI that signifies driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level.  This applies only to cases in which the person arrested has given a blood, breath or urine sample.  Officers or court cases (or your attorney) may call this “per se” DUI or “per se” DWI.  In short, this means, it is an offense to merely have driven while having the prohibited amount of alcohol in your system regardless of whether the police officer gathers any traditional evidence of “impairment”.

UBAL

Same as DUBAL.

"Open Container"

The offense of having an open container inside your passenger compartment.



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