Let’s start with the basics. DUI means driving under the influence, and people commonly use it as a catch-all term. In the same sense that Band Aid can mean bandage and Coke can mean cola, DUI can be used as a generic term to refer to any crime of intoxicated driving. If you get a DUI in Indiana, the formal charge will be for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, or OVWI.

All crimes are composed of elements. If the State can prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is found guilty of the alleged offense. If any element cannot be proven, the prosecution fails. The elements of OVWI are right there in the acronym:

  1. operating
  2. a vehicle
  3. while
  4. intoxicated

To be operating essentially means to be in control of a vehicle. In many DUI / OVWI cases, there are no police witnesses to operation, and officers are trying to reconstruct what happened based on deductions, generalizations, and assumptions. Sometimes it’s obvious, and sometimes it isn’t.

There are gray areas with regard to operation, including when someone is found sleeping in a vehicle. Any decent defense attorney on a DUI / OVWI case needs to look at the element of operating and make sure the State can prove its case.

Click here to read on about the other elements of an OVWI charge.