What Is the Difference Between a DUI and an OVI?


September 11, 2023

In the state of Ohio, individuals may face specific charges if found operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These charges are commonly identified by the acronyms DUI, DWI, and OVI, each carrying distinct legal implications. Understanding the definitions and disparities between these charges is crucial. An experienced Ohio OVI defense attorney can help you if you face these types of charges.

DUI – Driving Under the Influence

A DUI, which stands for “Driving Under the Influence,” pertains to an individual operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. To be charged with a DUI, the person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must exceed the legal limit of 0.08. Typically categorized as a misdemeanor, a DUI can escalate to a felony if the incident results in property damage, injuries, or the loss of life. It’s important to note that while the term “DUI” is commonplace in many states, it’s no longer used in Ohio.

DWI – Driving While Impaired/Intoxicated

The term DWI, which stands for “Driving While Impaired” or “Driving While Intoxicated,” essentially conveys the same meaning as DUI. It signifies an individual operating a vehicle while influenced or impaired by alcohol or drugs. However, like DUI, the term “DWI” is no longer utilized in Ohio.

OVI – Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence:

In Ohio, “OVI,” which stands for “Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence,” has been the preferred terminology since 2004. Conceptually, it mirrors the definition of DUI in other states. Individuals can be charged with an OVI if they operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and possess a BAC exceeding 0.08.

Notably, what distinguishes an OVI from a DUI is that a person can face OVI charges even if they are not actively driving the vehicle. If they are merely seated in a parked or idling vehicle and found to be impaired, OVI charges can be levied against them.

OVI Charges and Implications

To warrant an OVI charge, a person’s BAC must surpass the thresholds of 0.08 (0.02 for drivers under 21 and 0.04 for commercial drivers). Ohio enforces an “implied consent” law, which mandates that refusal to undergo a chemical test for BAC results in an automatic license suspension and a mandatory fine.

In the event of an OVI charge, it’s imperative to promptly seek the counsel of a skilled Ohio OVI defense attorney. An OVI charge may potentially be reduced to a “wet reckless” through a plea bargain. The term “wet reckless” typically pertains to driving with a borderline illegal BAC without involvement in an accident. This reduction is generally considered when the defendant has no prior drunk driving record.

Call Us Today to Speak to an Akron Criminal Defense Lawyer

Suppose you have been arrested on an OVI charge. In that case, it’s crucial to engage the services of an Ohio OVI defense attorney at the earliest opportunity to navigate the legal complexities and protect your rights effectively. To schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Akron, call our office today or contact us online.