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OWVI Michigan: Operating While Visibly Impaired & MI OWI
The concept of any person driving while alcohol or drugs (a controlled substance) have rendered the driver's ability impaired is universally known to be a crime. Plus, most people are familiar with being over the "legal limit" for ethanol (drinking alcohol) when operating a motor vehicle, and what are known nationally as DWI-DUI charges.
The Crime of Operating While Visibly Impaired Michigan. Throughout this article, OWI vs DUI Michigan are interchangeable terms. The same goes for driving under the influence (DUI) or DWI (driving while intoxicated). Similarly, some Michigan appellate cases discuss our state's driving under the influence laws by calling it "driving while ability impaired", or a DWAI charge. People v. Pomeroy, 88 Mich.App. 311, 276 N.W.2d 904 (MI. Ct. App., 1979).
The difference in acronyms has more to do with Legislative preferences of language than the reality of what the crime is: drunken driving or drugged driving. No police officer gets to just make up the name of the crime she or he is accusing.
Important secret tip: If a Michigan driver politely declines to take the optional, roadside field sobriety tests, he or she will likely not be accused of an OWVI charge. Most Americans are unaware that such physical agility exercises are 100% optional.Our Drunk Driving and Impaired Driving Laws Are Named by the Michigan Legislature
In addition, the Michigan legislature decides which crimes get jail time, and any associated license suspension (MI first offense DUI) or license revocation (3rd offense OWI, a felony) when a conviction occurs. For some repeat offenders, the vehicle will be forfeited to the State, or that driver can face a possible vehicle immobilization that lasts for a minimum period of ninety (90) days and a maximum of 180 days.
The acronym determination is exclusively placed in the hands of a state's legislature. In an interesting comparison, our neighboring state of Indiana has an OVWI law, that is the same thing as our OWVI, operating while ability impaired statute, in the Great Lakers State.
Driving while impaired Michigan. Michigan law distinguishes between intoxicated driving and impaired driving. Generally, a driver is intoxicated if he or she has a BAC (bodily alcohol content) that is over the legal limit.
Why am I charged with OWVI? On the other hand, you may be considered "impaired" if your ability to safely operate the vehicle (due to what you ingested or drank) is less than that of a normal, everyday driver. This is referred to as OWVI Michigan.Impaired Driving vs DUI Michigan
In the Great Lakes State [and all other states (except Utah)], the Michigan DUI limit is 0.08 grams percent, for adult age drivers (but not a commercial driver in a big rig truck). Utah changed its adult legal limit to 0.05 grams percent a couple of years ago.
This Michigan drunk driving limit "number" refers to the prohibited level of alcohol content under Michigan drunk driving laws. If a driver's post-arrest breath alcohol test reveals this "number," she or he will be accused of operating while impaired Michigan, or OWI in Michigan.
However, what many people do not realize is that you can also be charged with DUI in Michigan when there is no chemical test at all. If accused of a Michigan operating while impaired offense, you could be convicted of a separate operating while intoxicated Michigan crime known as "OWVI."
Michigan OWVI vs OWI. So, a person who has a blood alcohol content below the 0.08 grams percent (the presumptively impaired legal alcohol limit in our state) can still violate Michigan DUI laws. To understand why this is possible, it's helpful to understand the various applicable legal definitions.Impaired Driving vs OWI Michigan: What Is Impaired Driving in MI?
The official charge for impaired driving is operating while visibly impaired, or OWVI. It is referred to as "visibly impaired" because the impairment should be noticeable to a normal, everyday person, which is a rather subjective standard.
An OWVI charge is a lesser OWI offense (than an OWI charge Michigan) and is sometimes used to plea bargaining for a less serious crime. The impaired driving probation Michigan "conditions" are more favorable than the OWI penalties Michigan. The standard of proof for "visibly impaired" is lower than the standard for "under the influence." In an OWVI case, the prosecution must show that the defendant's ability to operate the vehicle was less than that of a careful driver due to the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.
This reduced ability to operate a vehicle safely must have been visible to an ordinary, observant person. You can be convicted of OWVI with a BAC above or below 0.08 gr. %.OWI Michigan First Offense Penalties for a 1st Offense OWVI Conviction
Like all DUI convictions, a conviction for OWVI has three categories of consequences; (1) punishment imposed by judge, (2) drivers' license sanctions, and (3) other collateral consequences like vehicle immobilization, travel restrictions, job loss, etc. For a first offense operating while visibly impaired (OWVI), you could face a fine of up to $300.00 and you must serve 30 days of community service. Case costs will also be imposed as the presiding judge deems to be merited.
Michigan OWI penalties. On an OWI in Michigan first offense, you can also be sentenced to up to 93 days in jail, and the judge can order as many as 360 hours of community service. You could be required (as a condition of probation) to pay back costs of prosecution and be required to meet with a probation officer monthly and remain on probation for a year or more.
The Secretary of State in Michigan will also suspend your license for 90 days, but during this 90-day period some restricted driving, such as to and from work, will be allowed. Michigan has implemented laws calling for the mandatory use of an ignition interlock device to be able to receive earlier reinstatement of limited driving privileges.
The collateral consequences are the same for an OWVI as for a first offense DUI. Collateral consequences are those things not imposed by the judge or the Secretary of State, but instead, for simply having a criminal conviction on your record.Felony DUI in Michigan: What About OWVI Causing Death or Serious Bodily Injury?
Because a driver can have a breath alcohol reading below the legal limit and still be intoxicated, it is likely that the prosecutor would charge a felony case as an OWI offense rather than an OWVI offense. Intoxicated driving cases resulting in death or grievous bodily injury are serious felony crimes that are punishable by many years in prison.
The "average" prison sentence per death is between five and seven years. If you've been charged with a serious alcohol related crime where death or serious injury has occurred, then be sure to retain top-rated Michigan DUI lawyers for your legal representation.
Call today to talk with our three Michigan Super Lawyers and receive a free lawyer consultation. Dial us at 1-877-255-6424, 24 hours a day.