What are the differences between DWI and OWI?

The complexities of a driving while intoxicated charge can make it difficult to understand how its circumstances can affect the outcome of your case. The language of DWI charges can differ in certain states, such as Wisconsin, which The Cap Times reports is one of the five most dangerous states when it comes to your odds of sharing the roads with drunk drivers. 

Wisconsin is one of several states that includes an operating while intoxicated charge in its drunk driving lexicon, and understanding the difference between it and a DWI may help you understand what fines and other penalties you might face when charged. 

DWI charges  

Driving while intoxicated is one of the most common charges related to alcohol-related offenses. When an officer pulls you over on suspicion of drunk driving, you may be subject to field sobriety tests, such as a breathalyzer. The legal blood alcohol content limit for most states is .08 percent; however, you may still be subject to conviction if the amount is lower and you are visibly impaired at the time of the arrest. DWI consequences may include the suspension of your license, fines and jail time. 

OWI charges  

Not all states include OWI within their drunk driving charges but some, such as Wisconsin and Iowa, use the term to describe your overall control of a vehicle at the time of detainment. For example, if an officer observes you swerving, pulls you over and finds you under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may face OUI charges. Many of the consequences of this charge are similar to DWI. 

The differences between DWI and OUI are quite nuanced. However, those few differences could make a significant impact on which charges you face in court.