The Difference Between an OVI and DUI in Mansfield & Mount Vernon, Ohio

Anyone who has been arrested for an OVI or DUI in Ohio knows the penalties associated with being found guilty are significant. Many people wonder if there is a difference between being charged with an OVI or a DUI. The easy answer is that there is no difference. In the state of Ohio, a DUI is simply referred to as an OVI. It's important to know there are a variety of acronyms that are used interchangeably with DUI.

*OUI – Operating Under the Influence
*DUII – Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants
*OWI – Operating While Intoxicated
*DWI – Driving While Impaired or Driving While Intoxicated
*DWUI – Driving While Under the Influence
*DWAI – Driving While Ability Impaired
*And of Course OVI

Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA)

According to the OSBA, the acronyms OMVI, DUI, DWI all are used to describe the same thing; operating a vehicle when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The most used acronym is DUI. It stands for Driving Under the Influence, DWI stands for Driving While Impaired. The state of Ohio no longer utilizes the acronyms DWI and DUI. This is because, in 1982, Ohio passed a law describing driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol as OMVI. This is an acronym that stands for Operating a Motor Vehicle Impaired.


There have been some recent changes in Ohio law. The requirement for a vehicle to be motorized has been removed. It now refers to driving under the influence as operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI). This means it has become a crime in the state of Ohio to operate almost any type of vehicle when impaired. This standard now applies to not only motorized vehicles but horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, and many other types of vehicles.

First Offense Penalties

The determining factor with a first offense OVI penalty is if an individual has a high test or low test results. OVI test results are labeled as low test if they are below certain levels.

*Blood Serum or Plasma at .203

*Breath Test at .169

*Whole Blood at .169

*Urine Test at .237

If a person's test falls below these levels, their OVI is determined to be a low test. Should their results be above these limits, their OVI is determined to be a high test. Once a person's blood alcohol content reaches 0.08 percent, they will be charged with an OVI.

Low Test Penalties

Even when someone has low OVI test results, they must pay a penalty. Some penalties are mandatory.

*Jail Time – It is mandatory for a person to spend a minimum of three days or a maximum of six months in jail. Should someone choose to have unlimited driving privileges with an ignition interlock system, their jail time will be suspended. The maximum jail time is usually not given, but it does happen.

*Fine – A person will have to pay a maximum fine of $1,075 or a minimum fine of $375.

*License Suspension – A person's license will be suspended from one to three years. This is mandatory for a first time OVI conviction. Some judges do permit limited driving to school and work.

High Test Penalties

With this penalty, a person is required to have mandatory yellow plates on their vehicle. These are restricted license plates. Individuals with these plates are given limited driving privileges. They are only permitted to drive the vehicle with yellow plates on it. Getting yellow plates is complicated and time-consuming. Many people believe this is the worst possible punishment. These plates are also a warning to law enforcement and other drivers about a person's OVI history. They are required to be used until the penalty time is over.

Anyone charged with an OVI will want to get the minimum amount of penalties. Someone with a low-test result could get the minimum penalties on their own, but a judge could still increase their fines. A person who is charged with OVI should speak with an experienced attorney. They know how to protect a person's rights.