Drinking and Drugged Driving Offenses

In the state of Michigan there are three specific drinking driving misdemeanor offenses that can be prosecuted and one involving driving with the presence of a controlled substance, (OWPCS).

The first drinking driving offense is called O.W.I., or "Operating While Intoxicated". The second is referred to as driving with an unlawful bodily alcohol level/content (UBAL/UBAC). The last is dubbed an OWVI, or operating while visibly impaired.

What exactly is the difference between these three seemingly similar offenses?

OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired)

An   OWVI is the least grave charge of the three. In a case such as this, the Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person in  question was (1) driving his/her motor vehicle and was doing so (2) while alcohol undermined his/her capacity to drive an automobile. These   standards are relatively low and their existence is determined by a police officer's judgement. Therefore, they are more a matter of police  opinion than anything specifically scientific. Read more about driving   patterns in your DUI case.

UBAC/UBAL (Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Content/Level)

In   a UBAC case, the prosecutor has to prove two things: First, that the alleged transgressor was the operator of the vehicle during the time in question. Second, that the driver possessed a blood alcohol content (BAC) which exceeded a level of 0.08% while operating a motor vehicle.

OWI (Operating While Intoxicated)

The  OWI offense requires the prosecutor to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant was operating a motor vehicle. Second, they must demonstrate that the defendant was under the influence of a controlled substance and/or alcohol while driving. The prosecutor bears the burden of demonstrating that the operation of the vehicle was substantially affected by the consumption of those substances.

Anyone   can be prosecuted for the above mentioned offenses if they  meet the  threshold for intoxicated driving. The legal limit in Michigan is .08%. Over and above the ordinary drunk driving laws, persons under 21 are   held to an even stricter standard: there is virtually no legal limit  for underage persons who drive with alcohol in their system. There are a   number of Michigan traffic laws that affect people under the legal  drinking age. Each and every instance of intoxicated driving should be reviewed by a qualified Michigan OWI lawyer.

OWPCS (Operating With Presence of Controlled Substance)

It   is illegal in the state of Michigan for individuals to operate motor vehicles with any amount of a controlled substance listed in Schedule 1 under the Michigan Public Health Code. Schedule 1 controlled    substances include: marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and some prescription medicines. This offense is unique among drinking and drugged driving charges in   that the State does not have to demonstrate that an individual was actually operating while being under the influence or impaired by a controlled substance, merely that at the time of driving, a measurable amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance, typically proven via blood test, was present in an individual's blood and the individual was operating a motor vehicle on a road or highway in Michigan.

It's   critical to remember that the State has to prove, beyond a  reasonable   doubt, that the defendant committed the crimes alleged. This places the  "burden of proof" on the accuser, rather than on the accused. This  is  what differentiates the US justice system from others systems throughout the world. In America, a person, is "innocent until proven guilty," not guilty until proven innocent. This is intended to    discourage abuses of power in the legal system and ensures that convictions don't happen haphazardly.

If any of the above has happened to you, contact me for your best representation.