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What is the difference between a OWI, DUI, DWI, OVI, OWVI, OUIL, UBAL, UBAC, etc.?

These terms are all acronyms that refer to the offense commonly known as "drunk driving."  Different states have different names for the crime.  For example, in Ohio the charge is known as OVI (operating a vehicle under the influence); in Oregon the offense is known as "driving under the influence of an intoxicant" or DUII; in New York, Texas and many other states, the charge is known as "driving while intoxicated" or DWI.  Indiana, Illinois and a substantial number of states use the term "driving under the influence" or DUI.  Wisconsin uses the phrase operating while intoxicated or OWI.

Michigan also uses the phrase
"operating while intoxicated" or OWI.  Michigan law also refers to operating a vehicle while visibly impaired or OWVI.  However, the phrase "driving under the influence" or DUI is also commonly used in the State of Michigan.  [The term OUIL was formerly used in Michigan but was replaced by the term OWI some years back.] 

This website uses the terms OWI and DUI interchangeably. 


I just got arrested for a State of Michigan OWI / DUI offense.  What happens next?


ISSUE ONE:  The Michigan Implied Consent Proceeding:  Your Michigan license (or your right to drive in Michigan if you're not a Michigan license driver) was most likely suspended for anywhere from one to two years if you refused to submit to a breath test.  Read your paperwork carefully.  If you would like to challenge this implied consent suspension, you must generally file an appeal (hearing request) within 14 days of your arrest; a hearing will then be scheduled to address you appeal.  If you are unsuccessful on you appeal (or if you do not appeal at all), six points with be added to your driving record and the one to two year suspension will be imposed.



ISSUE TWO:  The Michigan OWI / OWVI / DUI Criminal Case:  Separate from any implied consent suspension is the criminal charge for OWI / DUI. 


OWI.  In Michigan, it is unlawful for any person to operate a vehicle while intoxicated.  "Operating while intoxicated" means either that the person is under the influence of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, or a combination of alcoholic liquor and a controlled substance or the person has a bodily alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or above.  [Driving with a bodily alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater is sometime referred to as a "per se DUI," a "per se OWI," or UBAL or UBAC.]  An OWI results in six points to your driving record.


Under 21 years of age.  If you're under 21, it is unlawful to operate a vehicle while your bodily alcohol content is 0.02 percent or greater.  This offense results in four points to your driving record.


OWVI.  It is also unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle when, due to the consumption of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, or a combination of alcoholic liquor and a controlled substance, the person's ability to operate the vehicle is visibly impaired (OWVI).  An OWVI conviction results in four points to your driving record.

Drug Presence.  Michigan law also prohibits operating a vehicle if the person has in his or her body any amount of a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or cocaine (a Schedule II controlled substance).

Important:  The implied consent suspension proceeding and the criminal OWI / DUI case are completely separate from one another. 


Will my Michigan driver license be revoked / suspended?


RELATED TO ISSUE ONE ABOVE:  Your Michigan driver license (or your right to drive in Michigan if you do not have a valid Michigan license) may be suspended in the implied consent suspension for refusing a chemical (breath) test.  Again, you may challenge this suspension by filing a hearing request with the Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) within 14 days of your arrest.  Requesting a hearing will not necessarily overturn the suspension; rather, it provides you with a chance to overturn the suspension.



RELATED TO ISSUE TWO ABOVE:  If you are convicted of a Michigan OWI / DUI charge, you will lose your license (or your right to drive in Michigan if you don't have a valid Michigan license) for a period of time.  You may qualify for a restricted / occupational license for the bulk of your suspension.  Talk to your Michigan OWI / DUI lawyer for possible suspension lengths for your situation.



Also keep in mind that your license can be suspended for a variety of reasons unrelated to a OWI / DUI arrest.


I have a Michigan commercial driver license (CDL).  How long will my CDL be suspended for a OWI conviction?


For a first OWI conviction in Michigan your CDL will be suspended for one year (regardless of whether you're driving a commercial vehicle).  You face a three years suspension if your were transporting hazardous materials at the time of the OWI offense.  For a second OWI your CDL will be revoked for at least 10 years.



What happens if I get caught driving while my license is suspended / revoked (DWLS)?


Driving while your license is suspended or revoked (commonly referred to as DWLS) should be avoided as it is a new crime.  Potential penalties include a fines, possible jail time, community service, and a lengthening of your suspension by the Secretary of State.  If you're on probation for an OWI at the time you receive a DWLS, you will also face a probation violation allegation.


I really need to drive.  Will I be able to get a restricted license / occupational license?


A restricted license may be available to you although there may be a waiting period prior to your eligibility.  A restricted license allows you to drive:  (a) In the course of your employment or occupation; (b) to and from work; alcohol / drug treatment; the probation office; community service; school; and medical treatment.  While driving with a restricted license, you must carry proof of your destination and the hours of any employment, class, or other reason for traveling and you must display that proof upon a police officer's request. 


Speak to your Michigan DUI lawyer about whether you qualify for a restricted license.  Keep in mind that you cannot obtain a restricted license to drive commercial motor vehicles when you have an OWI / DUI related suspension. 


Is a OWI / DUI in Michigan a misdemeanor or felony charge?


In Michigan, a DUI is usually a misdemeanor crime.  However, if you have a prior offense within the past seven years and you receive a DUI with a passenger under 16 years of age you face a felony offense.  Also, a third or greater DUI is a felony offense under Michigan law regardless of the age of the prior offenses.  Refer to the table below for more information.


What type of penalties might I face if I am convicted of an Michigan OWI / DUI charge?


There are approximately 45,000 OWI arrests in Michigan each year.  Upon conviction of a Michigan OWI offense, a defendant can receive a variety of penalties including alcohol screening / treatment / education as well as a substantial Driver Responsibility Fee.  A range of penalties is set forth below: 



no prior offenses w/in past seven years
(Misdemeanor Offense)
  • For OWI w/ BAC of less than .17%:  180 days suspension; with a restricted license available after 30 days (See Note 1 below);
  • For OWVI:  90 day suspension (for alcohol); 180 days if offense involved controlled substance or alcohol and controlled substance; restricted license available for entire period (See Note 2 below);
  • Fine ranging from $100 - $500 ($300 fine for OWVI); and
  • Possible community service; and
  • Possible jail time, but jail not required.
  • For OWI w/ BAC of .17% or greater (sometimes known as a Super DUI):  One year suspension; with a restricted license available after 45 days;
  • Ignition interlock required;
  • Fine ranging from $200 - $700; and
  • Possible community service; and
  • Possible jail time, but jail not required.
no prior offenses w/in past seven years
with a child under 16 years of age in car
(sometimes known as child endangerment)
(Misdemeanor Offense)
  • For OWI / OWVI with a child under 16 in car:  180 days suspension; with a restricted license available after 90 days (See Note 3 below); and
  • Fine ranging from $200 - $1000; and
  • Either jail time of five days to one year; or
  • 30 - 90 days community service.
second offense w/in seven years
(Misdemeanor Offense)
  • At least a one year license revocation (See Note 5 below); and
  • Fine ranging from $200 - $1000; and
  • Either jail time of five days to one year; or
  • 30 - 90 days community service;
  • Plate confiscation and vehicle immobilization.
second offense w/in seven years

with a child under 16 years of age in car
(See Note 4 below)
  • At least a one year license revocation (See Note 5 below); and
  • Fine ranging from $500 - $5000; and
  • Either one to five years prison; or
  • Probation with 30 - 365 days jail and 60 - 180 days community service;
  • Plate confiscation and vehicle immobilization.
Regardless of age of prior offenses
  • Five year license revocation (See Note 5 below); and
  • Fine ranging from $500 - $5000; and
  • Either one to five years prison; or
  • Probation with 30 - 365 days jail and 60 - 180 days community service.
  • Plate confiscation and vehicle immobilization.

Note 1.  Refers to a violation of violation of section MCL 257.625(1) or (8).

Note 2.  Refers to a violation of section MCL 257.625(3).

Note 3.  Refers to a violation of section MCL 257.625(7).

Note 4.  Second offense within seven years or third offense regardless of age of prior offenses.

Note 5.  After the minimum period of license revocation, you may apply for a hearing before the Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) for re-licensure.  Reinstatement is NOT automatic.  Contact a Michigan OWI attorney for more information.

Will my lawyer be able to plea bargain / negotiate my OWI / DUI charge down to another (lesser) offense?

Possibly.  Plea bargaining and charge reduction are two areas that any experienced Michigan OWI lawyer would discuss with the prosecutor on the client's behalf.  Sometimes your only option is to plead to the charge or take your case to trial.  Your lawyer will advise you on the options specific to your case.

Will an Michigan DUI / OWI go on "my driving record?"

Yes.  A OWI / DUI conviction will go on your Michigan driving record and will stay on your record forever.  A conviction for OWI cannot be expunged under Michigan law.

Will I be placed on probation following a Michigan DUI conviction?

Likely yes.  You will probably be placed on probation for two years.  You will be subject to a number of conditions including:

  • Not violate any criminal law (obey all laws).
  • Not leave the State of Michigan without the written permission of the court or Probation Department.
  • Report to the Probation Department as often as your Probation Officer requires.
  • Notify the Probation Department of any change of address or employment status.
  • Serve any ordered jail time.
  • Pay fines, fees, restitution, and court costs.
  • Attend counseling or substance abuse treatment program.
  • Participate in community service or community work programs if ordered.
  • Random alcohol or drug testing.
  • Possess no weapons.
  • AA attendance.

Just how much jail / prison time will I have to do if I am convicted of a OWI / DUI in the State of Michigan?

The amount of incarceration (jail or prison) received will depend on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) the following:

•  your prior driving record especially your OWI / DUI history (including any DUI / DWI / OVI / OWI's outside of Michigan);

•  your level of intoxication / BAC;

•  whether there was an collision involved;

•  whether there was bodily injury to another person in the collision;

•  which Michigan county or court your case is in;

•  what judge you are sentenced by;

•  whether there was a passenger / child in your car (especially a child under 16);

•  whether the judge feels you have accepted responsibility for your actions.


I am licensed to drive in a state other than Michigan and I was cited for a OWI in Michigan.  Will my driver license be suspended?

Michigan only has the authority to suspend your right to drive in the State of Michigan.  However, if your home state learns of a Michigan OWI conviction, they will likely take action to suspend your license.  This also works in reverse.  If you are a Michigan licensed driver and you are convicted of a DUI offense in another state, Michigan may suspend your license if it learns of the conviction. 

Will I have to install an Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device on my car?


A breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) is a breath alcohol measurement device that is connected to a motor vehicle ignition.  In order to start the motor vehicle, a driver must blow a breath sample into the device which then measures alcohol concentration.  If the alcohol concentration exceeds the startup set point (0.025 percent) on the interlock device, the motor vehicle will not start.


The Michigan Secretary of State will require repeat offenders to install and maintain a BAIID on their vehicle before becoming eligible for reinstatement.  "Repeat offenders" are persons with (1) two or more alcohol related convictions within a seven year period; or (2) three or more convictions for DWLS or DWLR in seven years; or (3) three or more alcohol related convictions in a 10 year period. 


A BAIID is also required for a first conviction of any "super" OWI where the BAC is .17% or greater.  Talk to your Michigan OWI lawyer about whether this requirement applies to your situation.


What happens if I was on probation when I got arrested for my Michigan OWI / DUI offense?

Committing a new offense while you're on probation for a previous crime creates two problems.  First, you face the new Michigan OWI charge.  Second, you face a probation violation hearing for failing to obey all laws (a standard condition of probation).  The most serious scenario is when you receive a new Michigan OWI offense when you're already on probation for a previous DUI / OWI.  When this happens, its in your best interest to speak to a Michigan lawyer as soon as possible.

 What will an Michigan DUI / OWI do to my insurability?

If your insurance company finds out about your DUI / OWI one of two things are likely to happen.  Either your Michigan insurer will raise your insurance rates or you may be cancelled or non-renewed. 

Are there special concerns for licensed pilots who get an Michigan OWI?


Yes.  The FAA has special reporting requirements for certain Motor Vehicle Actions including Michigan OWI convictions and implied consent suspensions.  Learn more here.

I missed my Michigan court appearance.  What do I do now?

Failing to appear (FTA aka FAC) for court is to be avoided.  When you miss a court appearance, bad things happen.  At a minimum, the Michigan court typically issues a warrant for your arrest (known as a bench warrant).  Often, you face an additional license suspension as well.  Talk to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.  Often, your only option is to turn yourself in on the outstanding warrant.  A new court date will then be scheduled.

What will a DUI / OWI conviction do to my ability to enter Canada?

Having a DUI / OWI conviction generally makes you criminally inadmissible to Canada for at least 10 years.  On rare occasions, a person may be deemed rehabilitated when less than 10 years has elapsed since the conviction / end of probation.  Consult Canada's Citizen and Immigration website to learn more. 

I'm not a United States citizen.  Will a Michigan OWI / DUI conviction result in my removal from this country?

Probably not.  Typical, run of the mill Michigan DUI offenses (no priors; no child in car) are not considered crimes of moral turpitude or aggravated felonies resulting in removal.  It is important to consult an experienced immigration lawyer about your situation just as you should consult with an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer about your pending DUI / OWI charge. 

Keep two points in mind.  First, it is very important to answer honestly all questions about prior arrests / convictions on immigration and Visa applications and forms.  Lying on these forms is often considered more serious than any OWI / DUI conviction.  Second, non-citizens must take extra care not to drive on a suspended or revoked license.

Can I represent myself in court on my Michigan OWI / DUI and other criminal charge(s)?

Yes.  You have a constitutional right to represent yourself on any Michigan criminal charge no matter how serious including an Michigan DUI charge.  Keep in mind that Michigan DUI defense is a complex area of the law as shown by the information here.  If you cannot afford to hire your own criminal defense lawyer, you definitely should apply for court appointed counsel to represent you.  You have no right to court appointed counsel at the implied consent license proceeding.

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Websites, including this one, provide general Michigan OWI information but do not provide legal advice or create a lawyer / client relationship.  General information cannot replace legal advice specific to your case, problem, or situation.  Consult qualified Michigan OWI lawyers for advice about any specific problem or charge that you have.  Michigan attorneys are governed by the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct.  This website may be considered an advertisement for services under these Rules.  Information contained in this website is believed to be accurate but is not warranted or guaranteed in any way.  No lawyer associated with this website is specialized or certified in any way.  This site is not a solicitation; rather, it is purely informational.


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