Many people don’t realize police can charge them with a drunk driving offense even if their blood alcohol content is below the 0.08 percent level required for a positive breath test. An officer can charge you with Operating While Visibly Impaired in Michigan if any level of alcohol appears to affect your driving, posing a danger.
Michigan makes a distinction between intoxicated driving and impaired driving. The official name for impaired driving is Operating While Visibly Impaired or OWVI. This is a lesser offense than DUI/OWI. However, you should not take it lightly. The potential penalties may affect your career and future, even for a first-time offense. You should talk to an experienced Detroit area criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
How Do Police Show You Are Operating While Visibly Impaired in Michigan?
OWVI cases are difficult to prove in Michigan. There is a highly subjective element. A police officer may see you veering across the road and give you a breath test. You test under 0.08 BAC. However, the police officer charges you with OWVI because of your erratic driving, an observable danger. It’s difficult for police to prove you veered across the road because of alcohol as opposed to a lapse in attention or another distraction. An effective Michigan OWVI lawyer will put pressure on the prosecution to prove alcohol caused your hazardous driving. We can also question whether the driving was an observable danger in the first place.
It’s confusing to be charged with an offense if your blood alcohol content was below the legal drunk driving limit. You may know you were not intoxicated but police charged you with an offense on the drunk driving spectrum anyway. The courts often hit OWVI drivers with serious criminal and administrative penalties.
What Are the Penalties for Operating While Visibly Impaired in Michigan?
People convicted of Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) in Michigan can face the following penalties:
- A jail sentence of up to 93 days.
- A fine of up to $300
- Up to 360 hours of community service.
- Four points on your driving record
- The restriction of your driver’s license for up to 90 days, or 180 days if a controlled substance is detected.
- A $500 driver responsibility fee for two years.
The courts often give restricted driver’s licenses to people they convict of OWVI in Michigan. This means you can still drive with restricted driving privileges. Under the Michigan Vehicle Code Section 257.319 a restricted license limits where you can drive. You may be able to drive from home, work, or a court-ordered alcohol or drug treatment center, school, or the probation office, Some restricted licenses allow you to see certain family members and access medical treatment.
What is the Penalty for a Second OWVI in Michigan?
A second OWVI is a misdemeanor offense. Drivers who commit e second OWVI or OWI within the last seven years face jail time of 5 days to a year. A court may order them to carry out 30 to 90 days of community service.
A second OWVI carries a substantially higher fine in Michigan – $200 to $1,000. Conviction can result in vehicle forfeiture. If the driver’s vehicle was not taken away, the judge can order the car to be immobilized for 90 to 180 days.
The courts will usually revoke your license for a year after a second OWVI. You must complete a substance abuse program before getting your license back. You can apply for a restricted license after 45 days of renovation.
What is the Penalty for OWVI With a Young Passenger?
The penalties for OWVI and OWI increase if you have a passenger under 16 in your car. Transporting a child while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a child endangerment offense. The penalties for the offense include a fine of up to $1,000 and one year in jail. A second child endangerment charge in seven years carries up to five years in jail. A judge will fine you up to $5,000. You can lose your driver’s license, face probation, community service, and other consequences.
Can the Courts Reduce a First DUI Offense in Michigan to OWVI?
The courts sometimes reduce a first DUI or OWI to impaired driving by a plea bargain. Although OWVI carries the same potential maximum penalties as OWI (Operating While Intoxicated), the courts usually give you a less severe sentence. An OWVI charge does not carry a hard license suspension when a driver cannot drive at all. Drivers can lose their license for up to 90 days but the option of a restricted license for essential trips is often available. The fines imposed by the court are typically lower than those given to OWI offenders. Your Michigan drunk driving lawyer will often be able to reduce an OWI/DUI charge to an OWVI. As well as potentially lower fines and less jail time, the plea bargain can mean you get a new picture license with full driving privileges after a 90-day restriction.
The reduction of an OWI to an OWVI is usually only a realistic option for first-time offenders.
Talk to a Michigan OWVI Attorney As Soon as Possible
At George Law, we represent many clients who face DUI/OWI and OWVI charges. We fight these charges hard and look for issues in your case that can result in a not guilty verdict or prosecutors dropping the case. We can also make a case to reduce a DUI/OWI charge to Operating While Visibly Impaired which carries a lesser sentence in Michigan. Although the state is tough on drunk drivers, a good criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid a damaging drunk driving conviction. Find out more about drunk driving charges in Michigan on our website. We represent clients in the Detroit area and across Michigan from our offices in Royal Oak. Call us today for a consultation at 248-470-4300.