OUIL, OWI, DUI, DWI, OUIN, and OWVI?

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Every state has its own unique manner of classifying a drunk driving offense. As a result, several acronyms have become popular in various states and regions of the country. The term OUIL, which stands for “operating under the influence of intoxicating liquors,” was practically unique to Michigan until the September 30, 2004, amendments altered the terminology to Operating While Impaired (OWI). Previously, the acronym “owi” meant “operating while impaired” under Michigan law.

DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) are not considered proper descriptions of the crime of operating while intoxicated under Michigan law, but these terms are quite common throughout other states. Because of the widespread use of these acronyms, people in Michigan often times refer to a drunk driving charge as DWI or DUI.

OUIN is an acronym representing “operating under the influence of narcotics.” This terms is not widely used in Michigan since the September 30, 2004, amendments, but it was a parallel to OUIL under the old law. The new term is simply OWI, as the drunk driving statute prohibits driving while intoxicated while under the influence of either alcohol or a controlled substance. Often times, a police officer will describe the charge on a traffic ticket as “OWI -- Controlled Substance.”

OWVI is the new term for “operating while visibly impaired.” This new term has been adopted to avoid confusion between the old “OWI/operating while impaired” and the new “OWI/operating while intoxicated.”

The Michigan legal system has developed its own alphabet soup of criminal charges and acronyms in addition to the above terminology. This includes DWLS (driving while license suspended), DV (domestic violence), A&B (assault and battery), MDOP (malicious destruction of property), PWID (possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver), and a colorful array of other terms such as HYTA, CSC, U/A, EBT, PSI, 7411, and SORA.

An experienced attorney can quickly decipher the various lingo and jargon being used by the police and prosecutors.

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