The Criminal Defense Law Center of
West Michigan

Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI)

OWVI Defense Attorneys
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Operating while visibly impaired means that a person driving an automobile was not able to do so without showing signs of impairment. There is no minimum blood alcohol level to qualify for this charge. This means that if your bodily alcohol content is under .08, say .06, you can still be charged with OWVI.

Rarely do people get charged with OWVI initially when alcohol and driving are involved. I have handled numerous cases were OWVI was offered as the plea offer through my negotiation with the prosecutor when my client was charged with DUI or OWI.

Get A Free Case Strategy Session

Penalties for Operating While Visibly Impaired

Penalties for OWVI include a $300 fine.

A person convicted of Operating while visibly impaired can be given up to 93 days in jail. A person may also be given up to 360 hours of community service. One key benefit of pleading to OWVI from an OWI/DUI charge is the fact that a person doesn’t face a mandatory 30-day suspension of their driving license.

A person faces 90 days of restricted driving if they plead guilty to OWVI. Another major benefit of getting operating while visibly impaired when you are facing an OWVI or DUI charge is the fact that you only get four points on your drivers’ license instead of six points. This means your insurance rates won’t get up as high.

Finally, the driver’s responsibility fee is less for an OWVI than a DUI or OWI. The fee is only $500 for two years instead of $1000 for two years.

A good OWVI attorney knows what kind of defenses you may have in your particular case.

For example:

  • Did the police officer have a valid reason to pull you over?
  • Were the field sobriety tests done correctly?
  • Was the administration of the portable breathalyzer test done correctly?
  • Was the portable breathalyzer test equipment working properly?
  • Were the procedures at the blood test laboratory followed correctly?
  • Was the accused actually the driver?
  • Does the driver have the defense of necessity or duress?

What Should I do If I get pulled over for an OWI?

First, treat the office with respect and dignity. Doing so assures they aren’t worried about their safety or that you are going to interfere with their investigation.

However, you do want to limit the amount of information that they are gathering. You don’t need to tell them where you came from or how much you have had to drink.

You do not have to perform the field sobriety exercises or the roadside breath test.

Remember, if you are taken back a police station and refuse to take the breath test the consequences for that are entirely different. You can only be given a fine for not taking the roadside breath test.

However, refuse to take the breath test at the station your license can be suspended for up to a year. The suspension is a hard suspension unless you appeal.

The best way to avoid an Operating While Visibly Impaired offense is not to drive while under the influence of alcohol. Always have a designated driver with you if you are going to drink and need a ride home.

While this offense is found in Michigan’s OWI statute, Operating While Visibly Impaired is the lowest misdemeanor charge found in the statue. If you want to settle your case with a plea bargain, impaired driving typically the best option your lawyer can get. When it comes time for sentencing, impaired driving usually brings about a sentence that doesn’t include jail time.

In all states across the land, including Michigan, a driver is considered under the influence of if his or her BAC is .08 or above. This will change at the end of 2018 when the legal limit in Utah will drop from .08 to .05. Before 2003, the legal limit for drunk driving in the state of Michigan was .10. The legal limit for impaired driving at that time was .07.

If your attorney is able to work out a plea agreement for you that reduces your OWI to impaired driving, you will not lose your ability to drive an automobile. Impaired driving only gives a person a restricted license for 90 days, while an OWI conviction mandates a person not be allowed to drive at all for 30 days and then five months of restricted driving.

Rarely will you meet someone who has been charged with impaired driving. Impaired driving is almost always an offense that is bargained for.

Impaired driving also benefits a person by saving them a lot of money! A person could very easily save over one-thousand dollars by getting an OWI charge reduced to impaired driving. To sum things up, if your attorney is able to get the charge reduced to impaired driving, you will likely avoid jail time, you will not have your driving privileges suspended, you will save money and the offense will be looked at less severely by society.

Request A Free Consultation