The term OWI is an acronym which stands for operating while intoxicated. Like a DUI or DWI, it implies a person has been charged with drunk driving. Usually, it refers to driving a motor vehicle, but it can also – in some states – mean using heavy machinery or operating a boat or a vessel while intoxicated.
State Differences in Drunk Driving Language
Most states use the term DUI, but some states like New York, Texas, New Jersey and West Virginia use DWI. Driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated are similar charges with different terms. The police usually do not have to prove a driver is impaired, and the test for DUI or DWI charges is based on an individual having a blood alcohol content of at least .08 or more.
OWI is frequently used in the state of Wisconsin and the District of Columbia together with DUI or DWI. It all depends on if the person can be proven to have been driving under the influence of any alcohol at all. In the District of Columbia, this charge has the lower of all penalties. Most all states choose to stick to DUI because it can cover impairment not just from alcohol but also from drugs.
The punishment from different states varies and also depends on the charges brought for DUI, DWI or OWI. Every state has its own rules and regulations together with punishments for anyone found guilty. Not every state uses the same severity of punishment.
Depending on the state where a person is found to have committed an offense, they will face different consequences. What is important to understand is that some states and jurisdictions have lesser charges when an individual is found to be guilty of a DUI or DWI versus an OWI.
In fact, there are some places where OWI is the gravest of the charges a person can be given. There are cases, however, where the level of intoxication determines whether or not that person can lower their charge to that of a DUI instead. For more information on OWI see DUI Defense.
Usually, this is done when the level of BAC a person has at the time of the incident is found to be lower than expected. There are also some states that fine less for people who get charged with OWIs but in these states, the person would need to have help in getting a lesser fine by hiring a defense attorney.