Drinking and driving is a simple enough act to understand, but things can become confusing when people use different acronyms such as DUI or OUI to refer to this act. You might wonder what the difference is, especially if you stand accused of this crime.
DUI is driving under the influence, while OUI is operating under the influence. These acronyms are essentially synonymous, but it is crucial to understand the subtle difference between them in the eyes of the law.
Difference between DUI and OUI
DUI is the common term for drinking and driving and is the official term in many states. OUI refers to the same act of operating a vehicle while impaired and is the term for the criminal charge in the state of Massachusetts. It is important to note that you can get an OUI charge simply by sitting in your car while intoxicated and with the key in the ignition. Doing so displays an intent to operate the vehicle while under the influence.
Penalties for OUI in Massachusetts
Massachusetts impaired driving laws outline an initial penalty of $500 in fines and a license suspension as well as the possibility of jail time for a first-time simple OUI conviction. Subsequent offenses, as well as offenses with aggravating circumstances, can entail much harsher penalties. A third offense or later, for example, is a felony possibly entailing five years in prison and fines up to $15,000 or more.
While the state of Massachusetts officially refers to the act of drinking and driving as an OUI, the term is generally interchangeable with the more common DUI. Regardless of how you or the court refer to it, the fact remains that operating a vehicle under the influence is a serious charge that requires a no-holds-barred defense.