The Difference Between a DUI, DWI and OWI

Published by Michael Hoban on

It is illegal to drink or use any controlled substance and drive throughout the United States. Depending on the state, the offense may be called a  D.U.I., D.W.I. or even O.W.I. Each has varying meanings and can be enforced in conjunction with the others.


Driving under the influence, or DUI, occurs when a driver, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, steps behind the wheel. Illinois only has DUI, but it covers all of the offenses listed below.


Driving while intoxicated/impaired, or DWI, is similar to DUI, but tends to be more specific. In certain states, it can mean the driver was under the influence of only alcohol. Illinois does not have D.WI.


Operating while intoxicated, or OWI, is similar to both DUI and DWI, but can be considered more serious in some states. Illinois does not have OWI’s, but in states that do, a driver can be charged with DUI and OWI.

Not only is impaired driving illegal in every state; it’s dangerous for everyone. If the danger doesn’t scare people, then the financial cost will. Driver’s with D.U.I.s often have higher insurance rates and are ordered to carry a Sr-22 certificate. Be smart, order an Uber or take a cab but never drink and drive.