It can be confusing, hearing all of these terms “OUI,” “DUI,” and “DWI.” Knowing the difference between them is pretty minimal since these terms mostly cover the same thing, but they don’t mean exactly the same thing either. Some of the terms have different meanings in different states, or within the same state under specific circumstances. Here’s what you should know about the difference between these different terms.

The Definitions Of OUI And DUI

The First And Second DUI

When considering the differences in OUI vs DUI, they generally refer to driving while impaired from ingesting, smoking, drinking, or being exposed in some way to any substance that impairs a person’s driving ability. It doesn’t matter whether the substance itself is illegal or not, though possession of illegal substances can lead to additional charges. So you can be charged not only with a OUI/DUI, but you can receive an additional charge if you have an open bottle of alcohol in the vehicle with you.

For example, cough medicine is perfectly legal and is sold on the shelves of grocery stores and pharmacies. However, if a person drinks too much of it, a person can become intoxicated since it does contain a certain amount of alcohol, and can illegally operate a vehicle while under the influence of having drank too much cough syrup.

What Do The Terms Stand For?


The term “OUI” stands for “operating under the influence.” It is usually the preferred term for any criminal charges associated with drunk or impaired driving in the states of Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

“DUI” stands for “driving under the influence,” and usually refers to being under the influence of some intoxicating substances, including prescription medication, alcohol, drugs, or even the inhalation of specific fumes like paint or glue. It is recognized within the rest of the United States.

Other terms commonly used include “DWI” (driving while intoxicated), “DWAI” (driving while ability impaired), “OWI” (operating while intoxicated), and “OVUII” (operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant). In general, these terms typically refer to the same thing.

Is There Any Real Difference Between OUI And DUI

DUI law

When it comes to the penalties and charges that are being faced, there are generally not many comparable differences between them. The different terms are usually just regional terminology and have no actual legal differences between them.

Most of the time, the terms are used interchangeably to refer to the same offense, even if the law of the state only uses one. But not all states are the same. For example, New York makes a distinction between DWI and DWAI; the former refers to alcohol intoxication while the latter can be applied to any impairing substance. A DWI has much more serious penalties than a DWAI.

Regardless of which acronym is used in the crime, you’re charged with, it’s important that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible to help you with your case. A qualified local attorney can help you to learn the differences between these charges and will know how best to defend you in your case.

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