drinking and driving

When discussing driving while impaired, people tend to throw a lot of terms around, including OUI, DUI, and DWI. In essence, there are a lot of acronyms used to describe the same type of crime, sometimes slightly distinct from each other. They almost always, anywhere in the country, refer to the act of driving or operating a motor vehicle while impaired by a substance such as alcohol or drugs, whether or not they are legal in the specific jurisdiction. While many of the states in the United States use the term DUI or DWI for such charges, Massachusetts, along with Alaska, Connecticut, and Maine officially use the term OUI. However, colloquially, these terms may be used interchangeably and are understood to mean the same thing. There is no real legal difference between these terms other than differences in regional terminology. 

Also, if you have been charged with an OUI-type offense under a different name in a different jurisdiction, the state of Massachusetts will treat it that charge the same way as it would a prior OUI in Massachusetts in terms of charging and adjudicating any subsequent offenses.

It’s important to note that with the legalization of cannabis for recreational use becoming more widespread, that marijuana is treated just like alcohol: just because it is legal to own and consume these substances doesn’t mean it’s legal to drive while under the influence of them. Driving under the influence of any impairing substance – alcohol, marijuana, or otherwise – could land you facing OUI charges in the state of Massachusetts. 

What Do All These Terms Actually Mean?

There are a lot of abbreviations at play concerning cases involving a person allegedly driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Broadly, OUI stands for operating under the influence, DUI stands for driving under the influence, and DWI stands for driving while intoxicated or, in some cases, driving while impaired. These three terms are used across various jurisdictions in the United States but, in essence, mean the same thing: operating a vehicle while under the influence of an impairing substance, whether legal or illegal.

There are also a few less common, ultra-regional terms. For example, DWAI, or driving while ability impaired, is considered a less severe offense to a DWI in Colorado or New York. OWI, or operating while intoxicated, is used in Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin. Lastly Hawaii, which broadly uses DUI, has a separate charge called OVUII, meaning operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant.

A Practice Dedicated to DUI and OUI Defense

The experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard P.C. know exactly what to do in DUI and OUI cases to get the most favorable outcomes possible. In fact, we’ve built our entire practice on it and have become one of the leading experts in OUI and DUI law not just in Massachusetts, but nationally. With over 50 years of experience, you and your loved ones can rest easy knowing your case is in the best possible hands. We have a proven track record of successes including outright dismissals. Let us fight for you, your rights, and your future. Contact us today! Your first consultation is, as always, free.