DWI Explained

What is the Difference Between a DUI, DWI and OWI in Illinois? | What is an Aggravated DWI?

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In Illinois there is no distinction between a DUI, DWI and OWI.  Some states may use DWI (driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired) or OWI (Operating While Intoxicated), instead of DUI (driving under the influence), depending on the circumstances surrounding the arrest.  However, Illinois does not make this distinction, and only uses the term “Driving Under the Influence.”  


DWI Explained

In some states, DWI is a lesser offense relative to DUI.  However, your Illinois driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum of one year if you are convicted of a DUI or a “similar offense” in another state.  Even if the other state considers DWI to be a lesser offense, it will still be treated as a DUI for the purpose of your Illinois driver’s license.  


OWI Explained

Some states treat OWI as a greater offense than DUI or DWI.  However, Illinois does not make a distinction between OWI and DUI.  Like a DWI, a conviction for an OWI in another state will be treated in Illinois as a conviction for a “DUI or similar offense” and will carry a minimum penalty of a one-year suspension of your driver’s license.   


What is an Aggravated DWI?


An Aggravated DWI is when the circumstances surrounding the arrest warrant the charge to be upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony, carrying harsher punishments. In Illinois, there are 11 aggravating factors that can make a DUI a felony. To learn more about Aggravated DUIs in Illinois please read our article on “What is a DUI with Aggravated Circumstances?”

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