Differences Between an OWI and DUI in Indiana

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It is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and motorists with a blood alcohol level higher than 0.08 percent will have to face the penalties set by the state. Each state’s laws and terms used to define the operation of a car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol vary. A common term used across the U.S. is driving under the influence, or DUI, but Indiana uses the term operating while intoxicated, or OWI.


The term DUI is short for "driving under the influence." This term is commonly used across the U.S. when referring to those who have been arrested for drinking and driving. The term DUI is used in Indiana for the purpose of identifying a person who has been arrested for drinking and driving.


OWI is short for "operating while intoxicated" and is the term more commonly used in Indiana when charging motorists with drinking and driving. The term means the same thing as a DUI. Other states that commonly use OWI for drunk driving offenses include Iowa and Wisconsin.

Which Term

Both the terms OWI and DUI are used interchangeably in Indiana. Though the term DUI is more commonly used across the U.S., OWI is the preferred term in Indiana. Though the terms are a bit different, they both hold the same penalties and fines.


Regardless of whether the term DUI or OWI is used when a motorist is arrested for driving drunk, he will still face the same penalties, including a suspended license, criminal charge and possibly jail time. Typically a OWI/DUI is a misdemeanor but can be turned into a felony if there are previous charges within the past five years. Felony charges can also be filed if there is a passenger in the car under the age of 18 or the offense caused serious injury or death. First time offenders can face up to 60 days in jail, $5,000 in fines, one year of probation and have their licenses suspended for 90 days to two years. If charges are upgraded to a Class D felony, the offender can face anywhere from six months to three years in jail, pay a $10,000 fine, have three years probation and have his license suspended for one to two years.



About the Author

Heather Leigh Landon has been a writer since 1988 when she started her career as a stringer for "The McHenry Star News." Since then she has worked for newspapers such as "The Woodstock Independent," "The Northwest Herald" and "Press Journal." Landon graduated from William Rainey Harper College with an Associate of Applied Science in journalism.

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