What Are the Differences Between DUI, OWI, OWPD, and OWVI in Michigan?

Michigan DUI Defense Attorneys Representing Clients for All DUI Charges in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Throughout the State

As experienced Michigan DUI defense attorneys, we understand how confusing the various drunk/drugged-driving terms can be. DUI (Driving Under the Influence), OWI (Operating While Intoxicated), OWPD (Operating With the Presence of Drugs), and OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired) are all common terms used to describe various offenses an individual may be accused of when operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs.

In Michigan, many people refer to driving under the influence as DUI, although the proper term in the state is OWI, or operating while intoxicated. The two are one and the same. If you operate a motor vehicle or a boat/other watercraft with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of greater than the state's 0.08% legal limit, you may be charged with OWI. For individuals under the age of 21, there is a Zero Tolerance law which means you may be charged with OWI if even a trace of alcohol is detected in your system. Blood alcohol content may be determined using chemical tests, which include breath, blood, and urine tests.

What is OWVI?

OWVI, or Operating While Visibly Impaired, is a drunk driving offense you may be charged with regardless of BAC level. There is no minimum BAC which must be met to be arrested for OWVI; if a police officer feels that it is obvious you are not capable of operating a vehicle safely, you may be charged with this offense regardless of whether you have had one drink, or many. OWVI also applies if an officer suspects drugs have impaired your ability to safely operate a vehicle. Basically, you may be charged with OWVI and convicted based on the observations and opinion of the police officer. No proof that your blood alcohol content was above 0.08% is necessary. However, prosecutors have the burden of proving your guilt, so it is important to secure the legal guidance of a skilled Michigan criminal defense attorney.

What is OWPD?

OWPD, or Operating With the Presence of Drugs, is an offense you may be arrested for if your ability to drive safely is affected by illegal narcotic drugs. Regardless of the amount of drug in your body, you may face a misdemeanor charge if it is determined you are under the influence of a Schedule 1 illegal narcotic. If an individual has prior convictions and is arrested for OWPD for a third time, he or she may be charged with a felony, which means harsher penalties if convicted.

Schedule 1 drugs include those that have no currently accepted medical use, and are highly addictive and/or abused. These drugs include marijuana, LSD, ecstasy, heroin, peyote, and methaqualone. You may also be charged with OWPD for operating a motor vehicle with any amount of cocaine in your system, a Schedule 2 substance.

Regardless of whether you are arrested or charged with DUI, OWI, OWPD, or OWVI, it is critical you obtain the legal guidance and support of a highly qualified Michigan OWI defense attorney. The criminal penalties you may face if convicted include steep fines, possible jail time, community service, driver's license suspension, and more.

Grabel & Associates has a reputation across the state of Michigan for obtaining positive results for clients accused of drunk and drugged driving offenses. We urge you to contact us today for a free consultation regarding your case. Call our toll-free number at 1-800-783-4448.