What's The Difference Between OVI And DUI?

30 June 2023
 Categories: Law, Blog


Most people have heard of DUI, but you may find yourself charged with OVI instead. Here are the key differences. 

Terminology and Jurisdiction

Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) are terms used to describe impaired driving offenses, but their usage and prevalence differ depending on the jurisdiction. OVI is a term used in a small number of states, whereas DUI is more widely used.

It's important to be aware of the specific term used in your state, as the legal implications and consequences may vary. Familiarizing yourself with the terminology and understanding the jurisdiction-specific regulations can help you navigate the legal process more effectively if you find yourself facing such charges.

Scope of Impairment

While both OVI and DUI refer to impaired driving, there is a difference in the scope of impairment they encompass. OVI generally includes impairment caused not only by alcohol but also by other substances like drugs. This includes impairment resulting from prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and illicit substances.

On the other hand, DUI typically pertains specifically to impairment caused by alcohol consumption. Understanding this distinction is crucial, as it may influence the legal defense strategies and potential consequences associated with the specific impairment involved in a case.

Legal Limit Variation

The legal limits for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can vary between OVI and DUI cases. Each jurisdiction sets its own BAC limit, which serves as a threshold for determining impairment.

While the legal BAC limit for DUI is fairly standard, the legal limit for OVI varies more. The level of proof needed for non-alcohol OVI can also vary. The legal limit can also be lower for certain individuals, such as underage drivers or those operating commercial vehicles.

Penalties and Consequences

The penalties and consequences for OVI and DUI offenses can vary depending on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances surrounding the case. While the severity of penalties can differ, they are generally influenced by factors such as prior convictions, BAC level, the presence of minors in the vehicle, and whether any accidents or injuries occurred.

Penalties for both OVI and DUI can include fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education or treatment programs, probation, community service, and even incarceration. In many states, certain levels of charges come with mandatory jail time. The only way to get a reduced sentence is if you're able to beat the higher charge or are able to negotiate a plea deal to a lower charge. 

For more info, consult an OVI Lawyer today.