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Glossary of DUI OWI Terms

Michigan DUI Lawyers Fighting Charges in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Throughout Michigan

Being charged with DUI or a drunk driving offense can be one of the most stressful times in your life. At Grabel & Associates, our Michigan DUI defense attorneys are dedicated to providing strong, effective defense for clients accused of DUI and OWI. We want to enlighten our clients as much as possible in regards to the criminal justice process, and terms that are commonly used by police, attorneys, and others involved in the process.

BAC, or Blood Alcohol Content - Also known as bodily alcohol content, a BAC is the ratio of alcohol to blood in the bloodstream. An individual with a BAC of .08 or higher is considered legally drunk in Michigan. Commercial drivers are considered legally drunk when BAC is .04 or higher.

Breathalyzer - Frequently used in a PBT (preliminary breath test), this is the machine used to measure the BAC of an individual suspected of DUI. Police typically administer multiple tests to generate an average reading.

Breath Test - A breathalyzer device is used to perform a chemical test which measures BAC.

Blood Test - BAC (blood alcohol content) is measured via chemical testing of a blood sample.

Burden of Proof - A defendant often carries the burden of proof, in other words the defendant must prove that he or she was not operating a vehicle while intoxicated if the BAC was determined to be over the legal limit of 0.08%.

CDL, or Commercial Driver's License. A CDL is the type of license required for individuals who drive school buses, 18-wheelers, and other commercial or heavy weight vehicles.

Charge - A formal legal allegation against an individual. For instance, a person found to be driving drunk will be charged with OWI.

Chemical Test - Blood and breath tests, as well as urinalysis, are chemical tests used to measure the amount of alcohol or illegal substances in an individual's system.

Child Endangerment - If arrested for OWI or drunk driving, an individual may face an additional charge of child endangerment if a child is riding in the vehicle with the drunk driver. Enhanced penalties may apply.

Conviction - An individual is convicted of a crime when a judge/jury find that individual guilty of the offense he/she is charged with.

Defendant - The individual charged with a drunk driving offense (OWI, OWVI, etc.) is referred to as the defendant.

Driver Responsibility Fees - Mandatory fines common with criminal convictions or traffic offenses, driver responsibility fees are potentially a penalty in cases involving drunk driving.

Drunk Driving - An informal term used to describe an individual operating a vehicle while legally drunk or otherwise impaired.

DUI, or Driving Under the Influence - A common term for OWI or operating while intoxicated, a charge associated with driving while legally drunk in Michigan.

DWI, or Driving While Intoxicated - A term often used when someone is charged with driving while legally drunk, the term used in Michigan for this offense is OWI.

Expunge - Following a criminal conviction and after serving criminal penalties, an individual's criminal record may be partially cleared. Having a record cleared or expunged following a drunk driving conviction can improve the chances for employment and other opportunities.

Felony - A criminal offense considered more serious than a misdemeanor, a felony is frequently punishable by more than one year of jail time. In Michigan, a third OWI offense is considered a felony.

Ignition Interlock Device - A device installed in a vehicle that acts in much the same way as a breathalyzer, determining the BAC of the individual before he/she can start the vehicle. If the test is not passed, the vehicle will not start.

Misdemeanor - An offense considered less serious than a felony; in most cases, minimal jail time and fines punish misdemeanor offenses.

License Suspension - A potential penalty in drunk driving cases, an individual may lose his or her driving privileges for a specific time period, such as 30 days. Once the suspension has lapsed, it may be necessary to pay a reinstatement fee to obtain a new license.

License Revocation - Unlike suspension, having your license revoked means your driving privileges are suspended indefinitely. In order to regain your driving privilege, you must apply with the DAAD (Driver Assessment and Appeal Division) for a hearing to attempt to win back your driving privilege.

OWI, or Operating While Intoxicated - In the state of Michigan, OWI is the official term used for an offense in which a driver is found to driving drunk, or operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher.

OWVI, or Operating While Visibly Impaired - In order to be charged with OWVI, it is not necessary for you to have a BAC of .08 or higher; if a police officer determines simply by your appearance, behavior, or erratic driving that you cannot safely operate your vehicle, you may be charged with OWVI.

PBT, or Preliminary Breath Test - Also referred to as a roadside breath test, a PBT is a test that police officers frequently attempt to administer during an OWI traffic stop. The driver's BAC is measured by blowing into a device.

Plea Bargain - Defendants may benefit from a shorter sentence if he or she agrees to plea to a charge considered less serious. Also called plea deals, the criminal process is sped up. It's important to note that the prosecutor always benefits in some way through a plea bargain, so do not accept a plea deal without consulting with a skilled lawyer.

Standardized Field Sobriety Test - This test is a series of three tests a police officer may conduct in the process of a DUI traffic stop. It is used to help determine if a driver is impaired, and usually includes balancing on one foot, walking and turning, and walking a straight line.

Zero Tolerance - In Michigan, it is illegal for those who are younger than 21 to operate a motor vehicle with any blood alcohol content. You may face DUI charges if found with a BAC above 0.02%.

Contact Our Michigan DUI Law Firm Today

At Grabel & Associates, we are ready to assist you in fighting back against a criminal charge of DUI or OWI. We are available 24/7, so call our toll free number now at 1-800-342-7896 for unsurpassed legal guidance and representation. Contact us online.

Client Reviews

Scott and Bob achieved exactly the result I was looking for. They were prompt and effective. If I ever have any other legal issues (which hopefully I don't)... I'd certainly work with them again. M. C.
Scott Grabel was kind enough to look into my situation and take his time to speak with me free of charge. Most attorneys will not do that. He gave me reassurance that I had nothing to worry about. If I am ever in need of an attorney in the future I will be calling Scott Grabel and will highly recommend him to anyone with a legal issue. G. K.
Highly recommended lawyer! Mr. Grabel is very professional and knowledgable. My case happened suddenly on Saturday, but Mr. Grabel is 24/7 on call, which was what I needed. I called on Saturday night and the front desk told me I would hear back from the lawyer shortly. Only 30mins later, I got a call from Mr. Grabel himself and he eased my anxiety quickly by explaining the situation and options I had. I knew I was in good hands. ... Z. W.