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OWI And DUI Explained

OWI is the acronym for a drunk driving charge in the state of Michigan. If you have been charged with drunk driving in Michigan, you might be confused as to why it’s known as an OWI or Operating While Intoxicated. While this is the technical term for a drunk driving charge, many people are more familiar with the term “DUI,” which stands for Driving Under the Influence and is commonly used in television and movies to refer to a drunk driving charge. The good news is that both DUI and OWI are often used interchangeably in Michigan, so no matter which acronym you see you can know they both refer to the same offense.

Arrested for OWI (DUI) In Northern Michigan? 
Reach out to our experienced OWI defense lawyers at 231-735-8575. We will challenge the charges rather than simply telling you to plead guilty.

Examples Of OWI Crimes

There are many types of OWI crimes under Michigan law. An individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is an important factor that determines what level of charge is authorized against an individual suspected of OWI. Some of the most commonly charged examples of OWI include:

  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) – .08 BAC or Higher
  • Operating While Intoxicated 2nd Offense – .08 BAC or Higher
  • Operating While Intoxicated 3rd Offense or Subsequent – .08 BAC or Higher
  • Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) – Can Be Under .08 BAC
  • Operating While Intoxicated High BAC (Super Drunk) – .17 BAC or Higher
  • Operating While Intoxicated Causing Serious Injury – .08 BAC or Higher
  • Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death – .08 BAC or Higher
  • Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death of an Emergency Personnel – .08 BAC or Higher
  • Operating While Intoxicated Causing Child Endangerment – .08 BAC or Higher
  • Operating While Intoxicated Zero Tolerance/Minor BAC – .02 to .07 BAC & Under 21
  • Refusing the Breathalyzer or Chemical Test (Implied Consent Violation)

If you receive a charge for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) with a .08 or higher Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), you could face up to 93 days in jail, suspension of your driver’s license, restriction of your license to driving only to work, school and court-related locations, 6 points added to your driver’s license record and additional fines, costs and sanctions. For the second offense within 7 years, you could be facing a minimum of five days and up to one year in jail; while on the third OWI or subsequent offense, you could be looking at 30 days in jail as minimum punishment and up to 5 years in prison. Additionally, you may have vehicle forfeiture by the court with fines of up to $5,000 plus 180 days of community service depending on the severity of the case.

If you have been charged with an OWI-related offense, the potential consequences can be severe. From up to 93 days in jail for Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) offenses to a mandatory one-year minimum prison sentence if convicted of Operating While Intoxicated Causing Child Endangerment, the consequences are serious. Additionally, drivers will face fines, points on their driver’s license, and more court-imposed sanctions such as probation. If you’ve been arrested or charged with any of these crimes, it is critical that you speak to an experienced defense attorney right away.

Out-Of-State Drivers

If you possess a driver’s license from another state, it is important to be aware of the potential penalties that can come with an OWI (DUI) conviction in Michigan. The Driver’s License Compact (DLC) is a multi-state agreement that ensures people cannot evade the consequences of infractions committed in one state by simply going to another. While most states are part of DLC, there are some states such as Georgia, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Tennessee that have not yet joined this coalition. If you have an out-of-state driver’s license and face an OWI charge in Michigan, you should be aware of the particular legal implications it could have in your home state.

Consequences Of A Conviction

If you’ve been accused of an OWI offense, there are a range of possible consequences that can be serious. Depending on the charges, you could face a misdemeanor or felony charge and steep fines and criminal penalties that threaten professional licenses such as medical or teaching license. Even after your sentence or probation has been served, having a criminal record can have long-lasting impacts on your ability to find employment. It is essential to be informed about the potential outcomes so you can make the best decisions for yourself when dealing with OWI-related charges.

Legal Defenses To OWI Charges

When facing an OWI-related charge, it is crucial to understand the legal defenses available to you. From challenging the police officer’s decision-making or conduct during the interaction to contesting the scientific evidence against you, defending yourself against an OWI requires a knowledgeable analysis of the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. In order for a prosecutor to convict you, they must prove that your driving was impaired due to alcohol or drugs. By enlisting the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you can gain insight into the merits of your case and make informed decisions about how to proceed.

An Experienced Attorney Can Make All The Difference

When hiring a lawyer to defend you in an OWI case, you want one with extensive experience with drunk driving defense and who has handled your specific charge. OWI/DUI law is complex, but there may be legitimate defenses relating to the traffic stop, the circumstances of your arrest and/or the administration of the breathalyzer test. You don’t want a lawyer who will automatically steer you to a guilty plea. You want legal counsel who will first explore your defenses or alternatives to a straight conviction.

At Williams & Associates, we understand the hardships of driver’s license suspension and all the collateral consequences of a drunk driving conviction. There is no substitute for experienced and thorough representation. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our Traverse City firm at 231-735-8575 or email us.