What is the Difference Between a DUI and an OUI?

What is the difference between a DUI and an OUI? Or a DUI and DWI? Or a DUI and an OWI?

DUI here in California, and a number of other states, means “driving under the influence.” While the meaning of DUI remains the same amongst states that use that acronym, the law which prohibits driving the influence may not be.

In California, a person can be charged with a DUI if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, or if the person is “under the influence.” And being under the influence in California means being affected by alcohol or a drug (either prescription or non-prescription) such that the person’s ability to drive a vehicle is not as it would have been if the person was sober.

Now I don’t know what the exact law is in other states being a DUI attorney in California exclusively. What I can tell you is what the acronyms mean in other states.

The OUI in the title means “operating under the influence of an intoxicating liquor.”

Other states use different abbreviations. OVI means “operating a vehicle while intoxicated.” OMVI means “operating a motor vehicle while impaired.” DUII means “driving under the influence of intoxicants.” DUII-CS means “driving under the influence of intoxicants: controlled substances.” OWI means “operating while intoxicated.” DWI means “driving while intoxicated.” DWAI means “driving while ability impaired.”

Call it what you want, they all generally mean the same thing and none of them are good.


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Half Police Car, Half Taxi Being Used to Prevent Drunk Driving

Some of the rather creative methods employed by law enforcement and anti-drunk driving groups to deter drunk driving often surprises me. A new tactic by police in Hampton, Virginia is no exception.

The police department has released a car that is half police car and half taxi cab.

On the half of the car that looks like a police car, $8,100 is painted. The number indicates the costs associated with receiving a DUI conviction. On the taxi half of the car, $15 is painted. This number represents the average cost of hiring the taxi to drive a person home when they are too drunk to drive. Needless to say, the point in painting the numbers on the side of the car is to highlight that taking a cab can save a person thousands of dollars.

Frank Azzalina, a spokesman for Yellow Cab of Hampton, said, “It really sinks in, it’s maybe subliminal. It sits in the back of your mind that there are choices when you have a little bit too much to drink.”

The car took to the streets and you can bet that police had a lot of questions about it from people on the street.

"We want everyone to drink responsibly, designate a designated driver or think ahead and call a cab before you get behind the wheel and make that decision," said Sgt. Matt Bond in a video posted by the Hampton Police. “We’re hoping that something like this that can be rolling or also parked outside of an event will give that extra thought to someone before they actually get behind the wheel and drive intoxicated or even buzzed driving.”

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Avoid a Cinco De Mayo DUI

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. However, the 5th of May has come to be known as a day to celebrate Mexican heritage here in the United States. And often, the celebrations are accompanied by cervezas and tequila.

As with any holiday that provides the opportunity to imbibe an alcoholic beverage, law enforcement will be out in full force to catch drunk drivers.

“We know that impaired driving is dangerous, but it is especially dangerous around holidays like this where alcohol is often present and plays a role in celebrations,” said California Office of Traffic Safety Director Rhonda Craft. “Make smart decisions by planning a designated sober driver before the celebration begins."

From 2011-2015, 270 people were killed nationally in impaired driving crashes during the Cinco de Mayo holiday period. Over the 2015 Cinco de Mayo holiday period alone, 40 people were killed in impaired driving crashes.

Plan ahead of any Cinco De Mayo festivities where alcohol will be consumed.

Get a designated driver. Just make sure that your designated driver is, in fact, staying sober. Often, designated drivers do drink. They just don’t drink as much as their passengers. This is not a designated driver. Not only are they putting their passengers’ lives in danger, they are at risk of getting arrested for DUI.

Use public transportation. Cabs and busses are no longer the only options. Transportation companies like Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft provide holiday partygoers with the option of taking a ride privately owned, often luxury, vehicle.

Plan to stay the night. Whether at a hotel within walking distance or at the host’s house, staying the night to avoid driving home can help prevent a DUI. Remember, though, that it is possible to still be drunk the following morning depending on how much alcohol was consumed, what time the person went to bed, and what time the person drove home.

Don’t drink. While it may be the least attractive option, it is the only surefire way to avoid a California DUI.

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Designated Driver Killed by Drunk Driving Cop

A student in New York was killed this week after an off-duty NYPD officer who had been driving under the influence collided with her vehicle. The unfortunate twist to this story, however, was that the student was a designated driver when she was killed.

Vanessa Raghubar, 22, was out celebrating her sister, Maria’s 21st birthday with family. Vanessa had turned down a celebratory toast while out because she was the designated driver for her sister and her boyfriend that evening.

Neville Smith, 32, an off-duty NYPD detective at the time, was allegedly under the influence of alcohol and speeding when he rear-ended Raghubar’s vehicle. The collision sent Raghubar’s vehicle across the highway onto a grassy shoulder where it struck a tree and an overhead light pole.

Vanessa died from her injuries while at the hospital. Maria and her boyfriend were hospitalized where Maria had undergone four surgeries for a shattered pelvis, a shredded bladder and a broken arm.

“Vanessa didn’t drink,” Diana Chand, cousin to Vanessa and Maria, said to the New York Post. “She refused because she was driving some of us back. They did blood tests at the hospital after she was hit – it showed she didn’t have a drop.”

Smith told responding officers that he was returning home “from a dinner function for an old co-worker” when the collision occurred.

At the arraignment, prosecutors said that Smith had bloodshot, watery eyes and was slurring his speech when responding officers arrived at the scene. They also alleged that his breath smelled strongly of alcohol and that he refused to take a breath test.

Smith is facing charges of operating under the influence, first degree vehicular assault, assault, refusing to take a breath test, vehicular manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide. Bail was set at $300,000 and, if convicted, Smith faces seven years in prison.

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California Crackdown on Uber Over Drunk Drivers

Uber may have to shell out $1.13 million in fines and fees for failing to address complaints in California over its drivers who worked while under the influence of alcohol.

The California Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division of the California Public Utilities Commission has found that Uber violated “zero tolerance” rules governing drunk driver complaints on 151 occasions out of 154 complaints reviewed over the course of a year.

Of the 154 complaints reviewed, Uber was only able to prove that it attempted to contact their driver in 50 instances and only conducted an investigation in 21 instances. In only 22 instances could Uber prove that it had suspended drivers within an hour of a passenger complaint as required by the zero tolerance rules.

The findings come from a review of all passenger complaints lodged between August of 2014 and August of 2015.

The allegations and proposed penalties are now subject to an examination by an administrative law judge who will review before making a recommendation to a five member commission on what actions should be taken.

Uber has responded noting that, since the complaints, the company has made improvements and that their guidelines strictly forbid driving under the influence.

“This report relates to complaints in 2014 and 2015, and we’ve significantly improved our processes since then,” said Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend. “We have zero tolerance for any impaired driving.”

According to the company guidelines, “Uber may also deactivate the account of any driver who receives several unconfirmed complaints of drug or alcohol use.”

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