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What’s the Difference Between DUI, DWI and OWI in Illinois?

Published on March 30th, 2020

If you have your driver’s license, you’ve likely heard of terms like driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI) and operating while intoxicated (OWI). As Illinois driver’s license reinstatement lawyers, we often get questions about the difference between these three violations. It’s important to note that in the state of Illinois, there is no difference between these three and it only uses the term “driving under the influence” when determining the type of citation and punishment when a driver is caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

DWIs Explained

Driving while intoxicated or impaired in other states is seen as a lesser offense relative to a DUI charge. If you are convicted of a DUI or a “similar offense” in another state with your Illinois driver’s license, your license will be suspended for a minimum of one year. Regardless if the state considers DWI to be a lesser crime, you will be charged with a DUI because of your Illinois driver’s license. 

OWIs Explained

On the other hand, some states see OWI offenses as a greater offense than both DUIs and DWIs. Because the state of Illinois doesn’t make a distinction between OWI and DUI charges, a conviction of an OWI in another state will be treated as a “DUI or a similar offense” because of your Illinois driver’s license. The minimum penalty in this case is a one-year suspension of your driver’s license.

Aggravated DWIs

You may have heard of an aggravated DWI, and this occurs when the arrest warrant circumstances change from a misdemeanor to a felony. In the state of Illinois, there are 11 different factors that may cause this switch for a DUI to become a felony. 

As you can tell, Illinois has strict laws regarding driving under the influence in any way. If you find yourself in need of an Illinois driver’s license reinstatement, our team at Johnson & Goldrich P.C. is a phone call away. 

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