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OWI (operating While Under The Influence)

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Definition - What does OWI (operating While Under The Influence) mean?

OWI or operating while under the influence is a common drunken driving term used in Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan. Other states commonly use terms such as DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated).

It is illegal in each of these states to drive or operate any type of motorized vehicle including cars, trucks, planes and recreational vehicles such as tractors, jet-skis and boats. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious crime. Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan have all implemented serious penalties for OWI including fines, suspension of a drivers' license, community service, installation of an Ignition Interlock Device and jail time. The penalties and fines become more severe for each additional OWI arrest, especially if an accident or death occurs.

To prosecute a driver for OWI the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was operating a motor vehicle, the driver was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and the driver's ability to operate the vehicle was impaired. Drivers can also be convicted for OWI if there is evidence the driver's BAC or blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher. Underage drivers may be charged with OWI with a blood alcohol concentration of less than 0.08%.

Related Links

  • DUI -- driving under the influence is a serious offense and leads to thousands of injuries and deaths each year.
  • BAC -- The blood alcohol concentration of an individual can be influenced by their body weight, the rate of absorption of the alcohol, the quantity which was ingested and the individual's metabolism.

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