Like many people in Ohio, you may feel confused about the many abbreviations used in legal circles to describe a charge of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. You may have heard the terms Driving Under the Influence, abbreviated DUI, or Driving While Impaired, rendered as DWI, which are common parlance in other states. However, according to the Ohio State Bar Association, it is no longer appropriate to use these terms in a statewide legal context due to a new designation for these charges in a state law enacted in 1982.
The 1982 law designated the charges as Operating a Motor Vehicle Impaired, giving rise to a new acronym of OMVI. However, recent revisions to the law have rendered even this acronym inaccurate. The state currently considers it a crime to operate almost any vehicle while intoxicated, regardless of whether or not it is a motorized apparatus.
In other words, you could conceivably face charges for the inebriated operation of a horse-drawn buggy, if you happen to have access to one, or a bicycle. Because the law no longer implies vehicle motorization, the acronym OMVI has fallen out of favor. The currently preferred term is Operating a Vehicle Impaired, abbreviated to OVI.
Though Ohio no longer uses the term DUI, an OVI means essentially the same thing: Operating a vehicle of some sort while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, putting yourself and others in danger in the process.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.