You are likely familiar with the term OWI as a driver in Michigan. This means that you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated. People often just refer to this as drunk driving, but the distinction is important. It means that you were legally intoxicated and you were over the BAC limit of 0.08%. This can be measured through a breath test, a blood test or through other means. Breath tests are by far the most common.
But Michigan also uses the term OWVI, which is related and yet different. It’s important to know how this may play a role if you get pulled over by the police.
Operating while visibly impaired
OWVI stands for operating while visibly impaired, and it means that you suffered that impairment while driving your vehicle. The difference is that you may not be over the BAC limit, so you may not count as being legally intoxicated. But you are still impaired by the alcohol that you consumed, and that still means that you broke the law. Always remember that you can get arrested even if you are under 0.08%.
For instance, perhaps a breath test shows that your blood alcohol level is just 0.07%. At first, you think that this means that you’re off the hook and you’re not going to be arrested. However, the police may be able to look at indicators that you were impaired and still charge you.
Perhaps you caused a rear-end accident and it looks like it only happened because you didn’t react quickly enough and hit your brakes. The officer may claim that a sober driver would have hit their brakes sooner and avoided the crash. They may also point to things like field sobriety tests that they carried out, which you failed, before taking the breath test.
The ramifications of an OWVI can be serious. You could have to pay $300 in fines and you could spend 93 days behind bars. You may be told that you have to do community service for 360 hours or that your driver’s license is going to be restricted for the next three months.
What options do you have?
Now that you know you can get an OWVI in Michigan, make sure that you also understand all of your legal defense options if you are facing charges.