Drugged Driving: Operating Under The Influence of Drugs in Michigan

Being charged with driving under the influence of drugs is one of the most stressful events a person can experience. Commonly referred to as impaired driving, this is treated in the same manner as driving under the influence of alcohol. Normally these charges are classified as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), Operating while visibly impaired (OWVI) or even Operating under the Influence of Drugs (OUID).

The State of Michigan has exceptionally harsh penalties for those who are convicted of driving under the influence, whether it be drugs or alcohol. Even though certain recreational drugs such as marijuana have been legalized, it does not mean that individuals can disregard impaired driving laws. Having a firm understanding of how these laws work is essential in order to avoid getting a OWI for recreational drug use.

OUID Meaning

OUID stands for Operating Under the Influence of Drugs, which is generally viewed and treated by the state in the same manner as all other impaired driving offenses. However, OUID laws in Michigan specifically call out certain types of drugs which are not allowed while operating a motor vehicle. To the surprise of many, this includes prescription drugs in addition to illicit and recreational drugs. The general rule of thumb is that if prescription drugs impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle, they are not allowed while driving.

Schedule 1 and schedule 2 drugs are specifically prohibited for consumption immediately prior to or during the course of driving. Schedule 1 drugs include things such as marijuana, heroin, LS, ecstasy, and magic mushrooms. This can confuse users of recreational marijuana due to its recent legalization in Michigan – these users must still be cognizant that there is no amount of active marijuana that is allowed in their system while driving. Residual traces of the drug are allowed however, as it does not impair the ability of the driver to operate a motor vehicle.

Schedule 2 drugs are a more serious type that can even more dramatically impair a drivers ability to operate a motor vehicle. These include but are not limited to: cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, Adderall, Ritalin and Vicodin. While practically all prescription drugs fall under this category, it is varied in that it also includes illicit drugs that are often used for recreational purposes. The use of prescription drugs and OUID is a bit of a grey area in that it is only illegal to operate a vehicle while using prescription drugs if they interfere with or impair one’s driving ability. The use of illicit schedule 2 drugs is strictly prohibited regardless of whether or not it impairs driving.

Michigan OUID Laws And Penalties

As mentioned previously, Michigan has a zero tolerance policy towards the use of drugs while operating a motor vehicle. This is especially important considering Michigan’s 2018 legalization of recreational marijuana use, which has raised serious legal concerns regarding the use of drugs and driving. OUID charges fall under the category of OWI violations listed in MCL 257.625, specifically subsections (4),(5)(7) and (8).

The penalties for an OUID conviction are severe and long lasting. These penalties include fines, license suspension and even possible jail time. The severity of these penalties is dependent on a number of factors, including whether it is the first or repeat offense, if an accident occurred as a result of the OUID violation, and if there were any injuries or fatalities involved. First time offenses are normally misdemeanors and can carry the following penalties:

  • Suspension of drivers license for a minimum of 30 days and a restricted license for at least 150 days
  • A minimum fine of $100 up to $500
  • Requiring driver responsibility fees of up to $1000
  • Potential jail time of up to 93 days
  • Potential community service of up to 360 hours
  • Possible vehicle immobilization
  • Possible installation of ignition interlock device

For OUID violations that cause accidents resulting in serious injuries, the state will normally prosecute these as felonies instead of misdemeanors. This can result in up to five years in prison. In cases where fatalities occur, this can result in up to 15 years in prison (20 years if first responders are killed). These life altering consequences for OUID are deemed necessary by the State of Michigan in order to remove dangerous drugged drivers from the roadways, which has been an increasing problem in recent years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is an OUID?
OUID stands for “Operating Under the Influence of Drugs”, which is the formal charge for drugged driving violations. This covers all types of illicit, recreational and prescription drugs falling under both schedule 1 and schedule 2 classifications. Generally speaking, there is no tolerable amount of drug in a users system, with the exception of prescription drugs as long as they do not impair the ability of the driver to operate their vehicle.

Q. Does operating under the influence mean driving?
This is an umbrella term that covers all types of driving violations involving motor vehicle operator impairment as a result of drug or alcohol consumption. In the State of Michigan, these violations are subdivided down into OUID and OWI/DUI charges, depending on whether the offender was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While alcohol consumption is allowed as long as the operator is below the BAC limit, there is zero tolerance allowed for driving under the  influence of drugs – meaning no amount of drugs are allowed in the drivers system.

Q. Does drugged driving include marijuana?
Yes. The State of Michigan has a zero tolerance policy to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. However once the active drug is out of the drivers system, it is no longer considered drugged driving. This allows someone who enjoys recreational marijuana to drive after they sober up despite traces of the drug being in their system for a month after consumption.

Q. How does an OUID differ from an OWI?
The primary difference in these is how they are defined. OUID specifically outlines drugged driving and drug schedules, and what types of drugs are specifically prohibited while driving. OWI on the other hand deals with alcohol intoxication by drivers and covers BAC limits as well as the level of the offense – whether it be a normal DUI or a Super Drunk offense.