Michigan Impaired Driving Classifications

Michigan law classifies impaired driving as a serious offense. Various scenarios dictate whether the situation becomes a misdemeanor or felony. Also, numerous factors play a role in determining consequences for anyone charged with impaired driving. Understanding charges remains extremely important. As a result, a person stopped by law enforcement for suspected impaired driving MUST contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately before saying anything.

Types of Impaired Driving Charges in Michigan

Michigan has four classifications of impaired driving charges: Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI), Operating with the Presence of Drugs (OWPD), and Zero Tolerance for anyone under 21 operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a small amount of alcohol or drugs.

Operating While Intoxicated

Operating While Intoxicated, or OWI, is the broadest category. Many states use the term DUI. However, Michigan expanded the DUI classification to include being in a non-moving vehicle, with the keys in the ignition while you were legally drunk. For example, if you are passed out drunk in the middle of an intersection, you will get a ticket for an OWI. Previously, the DUI ticket may have been thrown out because you were not “driving” the car. So, Michigan changed the “DUI” designation to “OWI.” Regardless of the terminology change, many Michiganders still use the term DUI when referring to this type of ticket.

You will receive a ticket for an OWI if your blood alcohol content is at or above 0.08%. An OWI qualifies as “Super Drunk” when an offender’s BAC is at, or above 0.17%. Penalties are more severe for a super drunk classification. Either is a serious offense and may follow you for many years. You may face many consequences including fines, probation, community service, jail time, loss of license, restitution (if accident), counseling, court costs, and more. A first offense will have consequences and repeat offenders face more serious penalties. Therefore, contact an attorney immediately if you are arrested for an OWI.

Operating While Visibly Impaired

Operating While Visibly Impaired, or OWVI does not require a specific BAC level. Usually, a person charged with an OWVI was observed by law enforcement, or the public, driving erratically. When the police pulled them over, the suspected, impaired person may have been unsteady on their feet, or slurring their words. Sometimes, the individual might have been experiencing a health crisis. In that case, medical assistance becomes necessary. On the other hand, if law enforcement suspects drugs or alcohol is affecting the person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, they may do a breathalyzer, or take the person to the hospital for drug testing. Each case is different. When alcohol is present and the BAC is lower than 0.08% an OWVI ticket may be issued. Once again, call an attorney if you are arrested, or, if you receive a ticket.

Operating With the Presence of Drugs

Operating with the Presence of Drugs (OWPD) in your system is illegal in Michigan. This Michigan law refers to Schedule One drugs including: LSD, Heroin, mescaline, MDMA, GHB, Ectasty, and others. Currently (May, 2024), the DEA still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug. However, the classification may change this year. Present law in Michigan prohibits operating a motor vehicle with any amount of a Schedule One drug in your system. Additionally, Cocaine, a Schedule Two drug is illegal to use in the Great Lakes State. So, you may not drive a motor vehicle with any amount of an illegal drug in your system. Basically, marijuana is Michigan’s only current legal drug that is listed as a Schedule One Drug by the Federal Government. As a result, if you are pulled over for erratic driving with marijuana in your system you may be in violation of Michigan law. Since Michigan has a zero-tolerance for drugged driving you will most likely face fines, license sanctions, and other penalties.

Operating a Vehicle under the Influence and Under 21

No one under the age of 21 may drink alcohol and drive a car or boat. If a young person is suspected of drinking and driving they will be administered a breathalyzer test. If the test is 0.02% or higher they will receive a ticket. Michigan takes this very seriously. Odds are the guilty party will lose their license, face fines, probation, community service, and a variety of other consequences. Once again, contact an experienced DUI attorney if you are faced with this situation.