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DWI vs DUI vs OVI

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In the legal environment, there are often many specific and nuanced terms thrown around and it is very easy to lose track of them all. That is only further confused, when considering the fact that each, individual state has their own set of laws and subsequent language. When speaking about the terms used for persons operating vehicles, whilst under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, there are three key ones, which persist throughout the country. DWIs, DUIs and OVIs are all used in the United States, each with their own location-specific definitions. As an Ohio resident, it is important that you understand what each can mean for you, especially if you have recently moved here, from another state.

OVI/DUI
The first thing to know, unique to Ohio, is that the terms OVI and DUI are used, interchangeably. OVI stands for ‘operating a vehicle impaired’, whilst the term DUI stands for ‘driving under the influence’. In 1982, the state of Ohio enacted a law which was broader, referring to being under the influence of either drugs or alcohol when driving, and was named OMVI, or ‘operating a motor vehicle impaired’.  Then, this was further widened and applied to any vehicle, motorized or not, therefore including bicycles, horse drawn carriages and a number of others. This is where the final term, OVI, was coined and is the current charge that you would face, within the state. In a majority of states, driving under the influence is the term of choice and if this is the one you are familiar with, treat an OVI as the same thing.

DWI
Although less commonly used, the term DWI (driving while impaired or driving while intoxicated) is still used in a number of states, many of which are close to Ohio. Namely, New York, Arkansas, Minnesota, Missouri and a number of states in the New England area, all make use of this term. Again, this term can be used to mean the same thing within the state. There is no variation between any of the charges you will be facing, with each referring to OVI.

Alcohol and Drugs
The state of Ohio has some of the strictest and broadest laws surrounding DUI / OVI, anywhere in the country. Intentionally, our laws are meant to be relevant to any type of intoxicant, whether that be alcohol or narcotics. When defining the limits for alcohol, there are two separate readings, for each type of test. If you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or over, or have a urine alcohol concentration of, or in excess of, 0.110, you have met the illegal limit. In the way of drugs, if you are found with certain concentrations of cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, heroin, LSD, THC or PCP in your system, you are liable for the same charges.

Other Impairment
In some jurisdictions of Ohio, there may be other ways for you to be deemed to be driving whilst impaired. You may have to take a field sobriety test, a sequences of exercises, which give the police offer questioning you a better idea of your ability to operate a vehicle.

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