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OWI versus DWI

Many people are familiar with DUIs; however, they are not the only charge that people may face due to driving intoxicated. In fact, an OWI is a more common charge in a few states, including Iowa.

Though the two charges have their similarities, they are still different. There are a few key characteristics that separate the two.

Definition

According to Iowa's OWI laws, OWIs occur when people operate motor vehicles while under the influence of some type of drug. This can be any type of non-prescription drug, and the accused party may be operating a variety of vehicles:  

  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Boats
  • Snowmobiles

Those who face OWI charges may receive strict penalties, including losing their driving privileges, either temporarily or permanently. In some cases, they may face jail time of up to six years.

Difference

One of the major differences between an OWI and a DUI is the terms of the offense. In the case of a DUI, the offender must actually be operating the vehicle. On the other hand, for an OWI, a person needs only to be in control of a part that is necessary for the operation of a vehicle. For example, if a person is sitting in the driver's seat of a car with the key in the ignition and it is not on, that person would not receive a DUI but could receive an OWI. Therefore, with an OWI, the perception of intent is very important. Another difference is the sentencing. Though both charges may carry fees and jail time, the amounts and timeframe may vary.

This is a brief overview of OWIs and their differences from DUIs. If you or a loved one face such charges, it is important to understand what the charges and process entail. Take some time to review the law and consider consulting with a knowledgeable attorney to determine the best course of action moving forward.

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