Understanding Michigan Drunk Driving Charges


 According to the Michigan Vehicle Code 257.625, “A person, whether licensed or not, shall not operate a vehicle upon a highway or other place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of vehicles, within this state if the person is operating while intoxicated.”

 Commonly Used Abbreviations

BAC – Blood Alcohol Concentration, is a number typically expressed in a percentage that references the concentration of alcohol within the blood stream. Since alcohol is dissolved evenly in the fluids of the body, rather than body fat, a high level or concentration of alcohol within the body, specifically the blood stream, will begin to affect motor skills and cognitive processes.

OWI – Operating While Intoxicated, the “drunk driving law”.  It can be proven in either of two ways: the driver was “operating under the influence of liquor” or the driver was operating with an unlawful body alcohol level. 

OUIL – Operating Under the Influence of Liquor, this looks at the quality of the driving.  Requires that an operator’s ability to operate a motor vehicle in a normal manner was “substantially lessened” as the result of drinking alcohol.

UBAL – Unlawful Body Alcohol Level, this looks at the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath, blood, or urine.  The defendant was operating the vehicle with a body alcohol level of 0.08 grams of alcohol or more per 100 ml of blood / 210 of breath / 67 ml of urine.

OWVI – Operating While Visibly Impaired, the defendant was operating the vehicle with less ability than would an ordinary careful driver due to drinking alcohol.

OUID – Operating Under the Influence of Drugs, the defendant was operating the vehicle with less ability than would an ordinary careful driver due to the driver being under the influence of a controlled substance or a combination or alcohol and a controlled substance.


Common Alcohol Related Charges in Ascending Order of Severity

Careless Driving – civil infraction

Reckless Driving – criminal infraction, (BAC < 0.05)

OWVI – criminal infraction, (BAC 0.03 - 0.079)

OWI - criminal infraction, (BAC 0.08 - 0.16)

OWI, Super Drunk - criminal infraction, (BAC > 0.17)

OWI, Causing Serious Impairment – felony criminal infraction

OWI, Causing Death – felony criminal infraction


Lookback Period = 7 years (The period of time that prior OWI’s are relevant for sentencing)

Attempts are made to keep all information current; however, laws may change.  Different jurisdictions within Michigan may enforce the laws differently.

In upcoming blog posts I will write more details relevant to specific situations involving alcohol and drug related driving offenses.

If you have questions regarding an alcohol or drug related driving offense, call me, Attorney Steven Storrs, at 269-945-2242 or click here to contact me to set up an appointment to discuss your options.

*This blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult an attorney before making important decisions regarding your individual situation.

Source: www.lawofficeofstevengstorrs.com