Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) v. Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
OWI stands for Operating While Intoxicated and is what one can be charged with in Indiana if you are operating a “vehicle” while under the influence of a drug. DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, is more specific to alcohol. OWI is used in Indiana like an umbrella that covers the intoxication of any drug, from alcohol, prescription drugs, marijuana, narcotics, pills, etc.
The difference between the D, which is Driving, and the O, which is Operating, allows the cops to catch people doing things that are not considered driving, like sitting in the car with your engine on. If you are sitting in your car with the engine on and you are under the influence of a drug, you can be charged with an OWI. Even if you don’t drive anywhere and are not out on the street. Even if you are in your own driveway, in your own backyard, or in the woods on private property on a three-wheeler, it is still an OWI if the engine is on and you are in the driver’s seat.
OWI is not just driving a car or truck. “Operating” encapsules a boat, a bicycle, or even a tricycle being peddled on the sidewalk. In theory, if you are under the influence of a drug and you get on a child’s tricycle and you are peddling it and making it go forward, you can be charged with an OWI. You don’t even have to be in a public place to be charged with an OWI.