Welcome to our new weekly series, Friday Q&A. Each week our attorneys
will respond to a question selected from the many received by direct and
online submission. Have a question you want answered or topic you want
to hear more about? Submit your suggestions to us by tweeting
@TLOBJ or sending a message to our
QUESTION:I was cited for operating a vehicle under the influence, or OVI. I’ve
heard multiple terms for the same charge – OVI, OMVI, DUI, DWI –
what is the difference and does it have any impact on how severe my case is?
First, let’s sort out the alphabet soup:
Newest OVI = Operating a Vehicle Impaired.
OMVI = Operating a Motor Vehicle Impaired.
DUI = Driving Under the Influence.
Oldest DWI = Driving while under the influence.
Each term refers to the prohibited act of operating a vehicle while under
the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Ohio, the legislature changed how
we refer to OVI charges in the 1980s, updating the statute to make the
charges apply to more than just alcohol. Recently the Ohio legislature
removed the “motorized” element of OMVI, so that now virtually
any vehicle qualifies under the statute, including horse-drawn carriages,
bicycles, and riding lawn mowers.
The name of the charge has no effect on the severity of your case - the
penalties you face are tied to the number of prior convictions for impaired
driving and results of chemical tests, specifically a breath, blood, or
urine analysis or your prior refusal to submit to one of those tests.