What’s the Difference Between OVI, DUI, DWI, and OMVI?
Every state has laws that prohibit drunk driving. Most states call them DUI laws because “DUI” is an easily recognizable term. However, some states use different acronyms for the same offense, each with a slightly different meaning.
It is always important to discuss your specific DUI charges with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands California DUI law.
What Is a DUI in California?
DUI means “driving under the influence.” In California, it is illegal to drive a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You can be convicted of this offense if your blood alcohol content is .08 percent or more or if the prosecutor proves that you were otherwise under the influence and driving a car.
Suppose you didn’t submit to a blood or breath test. In that case, the prosecutor can try to prove you were under the influence through evidence like:
- Police officer testimony about your appearance, speech, and demeanor
- Performance on field sobriety tests
- Poor driving behavior like swerving, weaving, and speeding
The judge or jury will consider all the evidence and decide if you are guilty of a DUI.
What Are Other Names for a DUI?
While California doesn’t use these terms officially, other people may refer to a DUI as an OVI, DWI, or OMVI.
What Is an OVI?
An OVI means “operating a vehicle while intoxicated (or impaired).” In some states, an OVI is easier to prove than a DUI because you don’t have to prove that the defendant’s driving abilities were impaired, but rather that they were operating a vehicle. For example, if someone is drunk and idling but not driving, they may be convicted of an OVI.
What Is a DWI?
A DWI means “driving while intoxicated.” Most states use this term interchangeably with DUI, but a few states have a separate legal meaning for the acronym. In states with both charges, a DWI is often more serious than a DUI. However, California doesn’t recognize a DWI as a separate offense.
What Is an OMVI?
OMVI means “operating a motor vehicle while impaired.” This acronym isn’t generally used.
What Are the Penalties for a DUI in California?
In California, the penalty for a DUI depends on the circumstances and your past criminal record.
First DUI Offense
If you are convicted of a first-offense DUI in California, it is usually a misdemeanor. Your license will likely be suspended for six months, and you will pay a fine. You can apply for a restricted license to go to and from certain places, like work, the doctor, or school, but it typically requires an ignition interlock device to be installed in your car.
Most people convicted of a first offense get three years of probation and complete a 30-hour DUI class without serving jail time. However, the court can impose up to six months of jail time, depending on the circumstances, and up to five years of probation.
Second and Third DUI Offense
A second DUI offense is also a misdemeanor and carries a minimum fine. There is a mandatory 96 hours to one year in jail, but it can be served through an alternative work program. Your license is suspended for two years, and you are eligible for a restricted license. Most offenders are placed on three years probation and complete an extended DUI school.
Felony DUI Offense
If you injure or kill someone while driving under the influence, you may be charged with a felony DUI. This can carry 16 months to four years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 if someone was injured.
If this is your fourth DUI charge in ten years, it may be charged as a felony even if your other convictions are from other states.
Contact a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer If You Have Questions or Need Help
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Los Angeles, CA, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. A Los Angeles DUI attorney understands that even a misdemeanor DUI conviction can change your life and will protect your rights.
The Rodriguez Law Group – Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
626 Wilshire Blvd Suite 460, Los Angeles, CA 90017, United States