There are several terms used by people across the country to describe a “DUI”. Some of these terms include: OWI, OWVI, OVI, OUIL, DWI, OUI, and so forth. In Michigan, the two most common actual legal charges regarding a DUI are “OWI” (Operating While Intoxicated) and “OWVI” (Operating While Visibly Impaired). Both of these offenses in Michigan would fit within the general category of a “DUI” offense.
The legal limit for OWI in Michigan is .08. That basically means that it is against the law for a person to operate a vehicle in a place open to the public with a BAC (Bodily Alcohol Content) of .08 or above regardless if the person actually feels affected by the alcohol. Thus, if the person blows (or has a blood result) above a .08, then the person is automatically presumed to be intoxicated under Michigan law.
The more interesting question is, what if the person blows under a .08? Can he or she still be arrested and charged with a DUI in Michigan? The answer is Yes. Even if a person blows under the legal limit in Michigan, that person could still be arrested and charged with OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired), which is still a “DUI” for all intents and purposes.
For the “Impaired Driving” or OWVI, all that the prosecutor is required to prove is that due to the consumption of alcohol, the driver’s ability to operate was lessened to the point that it was noticeable to another person. Unlike the .08 Per Se OWI statute, the prosecutor is not required to prove any BAC level and does not need any breath or blood results to proceed under this charge.
So you are probably wondering, how would the police and prosecutor prove their case if the result is under a .08? Well, the way they would try to prove their case would be by using “observational evidence.” Basically in this situation, the arresting officer(s) would testify that there was a strong odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, and that the person appeared impaired. Furthermore, the officer(s) might say that the person was not driving well and he or she did not perform properly on the field sobriety tests after the traffic stop. Thus, it becomes a question of fact for a jury or judge to ultimately decide.
There are however, important defenses available which could be utilized to defend against this type of arrest and/or charge. If you are facing a DUI charge or situation similar to this topic, be sure to contact an attorney to fully apply the law to your specific case. If you live in another state and have concerns regarding the discussed issues, then you should contact an attorney in your home state.