The act of driving impaired is a criminal and civil offense in all 50 states. Drivers who drink too much alcohol or use drugs before driving are arrested for, charged with, and can be convicted of a DWI.
Being arrested and convicted of driving impaired can have serious legal and financial consequences on your life. While many states refer to this act as DWI, however, some states use other terms for the act of driving impaired. Regardless of its state-specific definition and abbreviation, you can avoid a charge of DUI and the consequences of it by learning how each state defines and punishes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
OVI stands for Operating a Vehicle While Impaired and applies to DWI laws in states like Ohio. The states that have OVI laws define driving impaired as a state of having a blood alcohol content or BAC of 0.08 or higher for drivers age 21 and over. Underage motorists are legally inebriated if their BAC levels reach 0.02 or higher while commercial drivers can be charged with this type of DUI if their BACs reach 0.04 or higher.
Ohio and other OVI states typically punish driving impaired through a variety of legal and civil sentences. A first offense of OVI can be punished with a mandatory jail sentence of three days to six months. First-time offenders also must pay civil fines totaling $250 to $1000 and have their driver’s licenses suspended from six months to three years.
Second-time OVI offenders receive punishments of 10 days to one year in jail as well as fines of $350 to $1000. After they get out of jail, their licenses may be suspended for one to five years.
People who commit OVI for the third time in these states receive a mandatory 30 days to one year in jail plus $350 to $1500 in civil fines. Their licenses can be suspended for three years or permanently. If they are allowed to keep their driver’s license, they must have an OVI offender stamp on it.
Punishments for four-time OVI offenders is significantly harsher and include 60 days to one year in jail. Their civil penalties can range from $800 to $10,000. They also must have an OVI state-issued driver’s license.
Unlike many states, Ohio allows first-time OVI offenders whose BACs were barely at the legal limit to plea down to an offense called wet reckless driving. To bargain down the charges, OVI offenders are required to retain an attorney to make their cases, however.
States like Ohio also may refer to a DWI and the act of driving impaired as OMVI. OMVI stands for Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired. Drivers are determined to be committing OMVI through one of several chemical tests to which they must comply because of the state’s implied consent laws.
Ohio determines if a person was driving impaired with chemical tests that test blood and urine samples. If the samples given by the motorist are found to be at or above the legal BAC limit, the driver can then be charged and potentially convicted of this type of DWI.
Police officers in Ohio and other states are also trained to give a chemical test known as a breathalyzer. The breathalyzer detects particles of alcohol on the driver’s breath. It then gives an accurate BAC reading, many times in as few as five to 10 seconds.
If you live or are driving through an OMVI state, you might wonder if you can refuse the chemical test to determine if you are driving impaired. Because of the state’s implied consent laws, which drivers agree to when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses, you cannot legally refuse to undergo a chemical test for impaired driving.
If you do refuse, you can still face legal punishments that include having your license revoked or suspended. You also can be sentenced to up to three days in jail and have to pay civil fines of up to $1000 for refusing to undergo a chemical DWI test. If you feel that the test was given unjustly and without proper cause, you can have the charges for refusing a chemical OMVI test dropped or lowered by hiring a DWI attorney to take your case.
DUI is an acronym for Driving Under the Influence and is most commonly associated with DWI. States with DUI laws on the books extend this definition of driving impaired not only to the act of consuming alcohol and then driving but also driving after using illegal or prescription drugs. Like states that have DWI laws, states with DUI laws also abide by the standard 0.08 BAC legal limit.
The severity of the DWI that you are charged within these states depends on how far over the legal limit your breath, urine, or blood sample is. It also will depend on whether or not you are someone who has been charged and convicted of driving impaired in the past.
Implied consent laws mean that you cannot legally refuse to be tested for driving impaired. If you refuse a breathalyzer test or another form of chemical test, you could still be arrested and charged. Your license can also be suspended for up to a year just for a first conviction.
You can expect to encounter these tests routinely throughout the year if you are asked to pull over at a checkpoint. Law enforcement sets up checkpoints during busy times of the year like Christmas and New Years. They also may set up checkpoints around high schools during prom and graduation seasons.
Just like a DWI, you may be able to escape the consequences of a DUI by hiring a skilled DUI attorney. Your attorney can make sure your chemical test results are accurate and that law enforcement had just cause to pull you over and submit you to field sobriety testing.
DUII is another form of DWI used in states like Oregon. DUII stands for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants. It is a form of driving impaired that can include the use of alcohol as well as illegal and prescription drugs. The standard BAC limit for DUII laws is 0.08 for adults aged 21 and older.
Drivers who are charged with a first-time DUII face severe penalties that go beyond those incurred for DWI offenses in other states. To start, a first-time DUII conviction can result in the driver having an interlock ignition breathalyzer attached to his or her car’s steering wheel. The installation of the ignition lock breathalyzer takes place after a mandatory 90-day license suspension, however.
States with this type of DWI laws also use implied consent laws, meaning that you technically cannot refuse a test to determine if you are driving impaired. If you are found to be over the legal limit in a DUII state, you can face legal consequences that include a $1000 civil fine plus $25 for a conviction fee. If your BAC is 0.15 or higher, you could face a fine of $2500 to a maximum of $6250. If you have a passenger in the car who is younger than 18 and you are more than three years older than the passenger, your fines could go as high as $10,000.
Oregon also requires DUII convicts to undergo screening for an appropriate mandatory substance abuse program. You will have to pay the fees, which include a $150 program screening fee, out of your own pocket. However, if you complete the program satisfactorily as a first-time DUII offender, you could have the charge and conviction expunged from your record after one year.
States like Iowa refer to their version of DWI as OWI, which means Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated. In Iowa, driving impaired is both a civil and criminal offense. Even if you have never before committed this type of DWI, you could still face punishments like a mandatory 48 hours in jail and a fine of $1250. In some instances, the state may halve your fine if you did not cause bodily injury or harm to public or private property while you were driving impaired.
A second offense for this type of DWI can result in punishments that can range from seven days to two years in jail. The BAC levels for states with OWI laws is 0.08 for adults 21 years of age and older, 0.02 for underage drivers, and 0.04 for commercial drivers. Driving impaired with a BAC of 0.15 will result in a charge of aggravated OVI.
Iowa has varying levels of punishments for first, second, and third-time OWI offenses. A first-time offense can result in 180 days in jail while a second and third-time offense can result in up to one and three years in prison, respectively. Iowa also mandates an ignition interlock breathalyzer for one’s car if the driver convicted of driving impaired has a BAC of 0.10 or higher.
Given the legal consequences that can come with being convicted of OWI, drivers are encouraged to hire legal representation if they want to bargain down the charges against them or have them dismissed by the court entirely. A DWI lawyer can review the OWI results, ensure that law enforcement had just cause for pulling over the driver and ask the court to lower or drop the charges based on his or her findings.
DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated and is the standard charge in most of the 50 states. In most states, a DWI is a greater charge than DUI. It means that you were actually caught in the act of driving impaired due to alcohol or drug consumption.
States that use this acronym typically reserve DWI for first-time offenders whose BACs were not significantly over the 0.08 limit. However, in other states, DUI and DWI mean the same thing and bring with them the same type of legal punishments regardless of what acronym is used when the state charges and convicts a driver.
The consequences for driving impaired in DWI states can range from civil penalties of $250 to $10,000. First-time offenders may have to serve upwards of seven to 10 days in jail while repeat offenders can face jail sentences of one to three years in jail. People who cause damages to property or harm to human life can be sentenced to federal prison for up to 10 years and sometimes longer.
All of the states also have implied consent laws on the books, meaning that a driver cannot legally refuse to take a DWI test. While some lawyers may advise clients to refuse a field sobriety test, people can be still be arrested and charged. They can also have their driver’s licenses suspended or revoked. In fact, when people get or renew their licenses, they automatically agree to the state’s driving impaired implied consent laws.
Still, whether they agree to test or not, drivers also have the automatic right to hire a lawyer immediately after their arrests and booking. Their lawyers may be able to help them avoid the harshest penalties like having to go jail and paying huge fines to the court.
OUI stands for Operating Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs. OUI laws are used in states like Maine. In OUI states, drivers can be convicted of driving impaired if their BACs are 0.08 or higher.
Maine will charge a driver with a first-time OUI if he or she has never before been arrested and convicted of OUI within the past 10 years. If the person has an OUI on his or her record from within the last 10 years, the person will be charged with a second, third, or subsequent OUI.
A first-time OUI for driving impaired can result in punishments that include a fine of $500 to $600. in addition to the fine, the motorist must also pay a surcharge of 20 percent along with a $30 OUI surcharge and $10 for the state’s victims’ fund.
A motorist may also be sentenced to 48 hours in jail if the person has a BAC of 0.15 or higher if he or she was speeding 30 miles over the posted speed limit, eluding an officer, or driving impaired with another passenger under the age of 21 in the vehicle. The driver can likewise have his or her license suspended for up to 90 days and another 275 days if he or she refuses the chemical test for driving impaired.
A second offense for OUI in Maine can result in consequences like $700 plus surcharges in civil penalties, seven days in jail, and suspension of his or her license for 18 months. These punishments are increased to 12 days in jail and a 275-day license suspension if he or she refuses the chemical OUI test.
A third OUI offense is a Class C felony and can incur $1100 in fines plus surcharges, 30 days in jail, and a license suspension of four years. If the driver refuses to undergo field sobriety testing, the punishments can increase to $1400 plus surcharges in fines and 40 days in jail.
People who are found guilty four or more times of OUI in Maine face severe penalties like $2100 in fines and surcharges, six months in jail, and a six-year suspension of his or her license. Refusing to be tested for driving impaired can increase these punishments to $2500 plus surcharges in fines and six months plus 20 days in jail in addition to the six-year suspension of the driver’s license.
DWAI stands for Driving While Ability Impaired and is used in place of DUI laws in states like Colorado. It means that the motorist was driving impaired while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The BAC level for DWAI driving in Colorado is 0.05 to 0.07. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, DWAI can be charged along with DUI.
For a first-time DWAI offender, the punishment starts at 180 days in city or county jail along with $100 to $500 in civil fines. The motorist can also incur a mandatory additional sentence of 24 to 48 hours of community service. He or she will also have eight points applied to his or her driving record toward a license suspension.
A driver who is underage and convicted of DWAI can have his or her license suspended for up to three months along with four points on his or her driving record. The driver will also be made to pay a $100 fine and serve 24 hours of community service.
Like states with DUI laws, Colorado and other states with DWAI laws have a zero tolerance for driving impaired. Drivers are compelled to submit to DWI testing because of the states’ mandatory implied consent laws.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in every state. The terms used to describe this offense varies from state to state. However, the charges and convictions for OUI, DUII, DWAI, and other acronyms for driving impaired carry severe penalties that can have lifelong consequences that are difficult to escape and overcome.