Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Find a Lawyer

More Options

10 DUI Abbreviations Every Driver Should Know

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Drunken driving laws contain an alphabetic menagerie of acronyms: DWI, DUI, BAC, OVI, and HGN, just to name a few. Knowing what they mean could help you in avoiding a felony charge.

Some of these definitions change based on state laws, but many of them remain constant throughout the nation.

Don't be a drinking and driving dunce when it comes to these 10 DUI abbreviations every driver should be familiar with:

  1. DUI. Standing for "Driving Under the Influence," this catchall term describes almost all crimes involving a driver who is operating a vehicle while under the influence of any drug (including alcohol).
  2. DWI. "Driving While Intoxicated" is often synonymous with DUI, but in some states DWI is the more serious charge, leaving DUI to criminalize impaired driving when blood alcohol levels are below the legal limit or when the driver is high on drugs.
  3. BAC. All states have a "Blood Alcohol Concentration" at which a driver is per se intoxicated. A BAC of 0.08 percent is the legal limit for non-commercial drivers over 21 in all states; in some states, drivers under 21 are held to a zero-tolerance standard.
  4. OVI. Like DUI, in Ohio "Operating a Vehicle under the Influence of alcohol or drugs" covers all impaired driving charges.
  5. DWAI. In New York and Colorado, "Driving While Ability Impaired" is a lesser charge applied when a driver has a BAC below 0.08 percent but is still intoxicated (in Colorado, for example, it's between 0.05 and 0.08 percent).
  6. OWI. Michigan's version of DUI, "Operating While Intoxicated" covers most cases of drunken driving, with the comparatively minor charge of "Operating While Visually Impaired" covering the rest.
  7. FST. If you are pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving, an officer may give you a "Field Sobriety Test" which tests intoxication with three physical tests. It is also referred to as the "Standard Field Sobriety Test" or SFST.
  8. HGN. One part of a standard FST is testing "Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus." This involves observing twitching or jerking of a driver's eyes while following a slow moving object horizontally.
  9. OR. On arraignment for your drunken driving offense, your attorney may ask that you be OR'd, or "released on your Own Recognizance." This means you can go home and await your next hearing or trial without having to pay bail or remain in jail.
  10. IID. Depending on your state, a drunken driving conviction may require you to install an "Ignition Interlock Device" which measures a driver's BAC and prevents drunken drivers from starting their cars.

It may seem like alphabet soup, but these terms are second nature for prosecutors, and if you drive drunk, they will make a meal out of you. If you have more questions about what a DUI abbreviation means, you may want to ask an experienced DUI lawyer near you.

Related Resources:

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:
Copied to clipboard