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Understanding the ABCs of OWI here in Michigan

In a matter of hours, a considerable number of people across Michigan will wrap up their workweek, and stop by a local tavern or restaurant to enjoy happy hour with coworkers before heading home.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with this, problems can arise if a person, perhaps eager to capitalize on drink specials, has just one extra beer, glass of wine or cocktail before heading out. Indeed, they may soon see red flashing lights in their rearview mirror, and ultimately be placed in the back of a squad car facing drunk driving charges.

As anyone who has encountered this situation will tell you, the ensuing legal process can be incredibly confusing. Indeed, part of the issue is the multitude of acronyms associated with drunk driving charges from BAC and OWI to OWPD and OWVI.

In recognition of how perplexing this veritable alphabet soup of drunk driving acronyms can be, here is a brief breakdown of their meaning:

  • BAC: BAC stands for bodily alcohol content. Motorists in Michigan cannot operate a motor vehicle with a bodily alcohol content of .08 or greater.
  • OWI: OWI stands for operating while intoxicated. This criminal charge encompasses three different types of violations, including 1) having a BAC of .08 or higher while operating a motor vehicle, 2) having drugs or alcohol in your system that substantially affect your abilities while operating a motor vehicle, and 3) having a BAC of .17 or higher (i.e., "High BAC").
  • OWVI: OWVI stands for operating while visibly impaired. This essentially means that your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle was visibly impaired owing to drugs or alcohol in your system
  • OWPD: OWPD stands for operating with any presence of a schedule I drug or cocaine. This criminal charge can result when a motorist is found to have trace amounts of illegal narcotics in their system (typically measured via a chemical test). In fact, these charges can result even if a motorist does not seem to be impaired/intoxicated.

Here's hoping this information has proven helpful. We'll examine more about OWI in Michigan in future posts, including the steep consequences that can result from a conviction.        

If you have been arrested for OWI, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible, as the stakes are simply too high.   

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