DUI, OWI, OUIL – Michigan Drunk Driving Terms

It seems there’s an “alphabet soup” of terms (acronyms, actually) used to describe what we commonly know as “Drunk Driving.” Some are accurate, some are obsolete, and some just plain wrong when used to describe “Drunk Driving” in the State of Michigan.

The purpose of this article is to define and explain these terms. A complete review of their consequences is laid out in the “Common Drunk Driving Charges and Penalties” section of my web site.

Let’s begin with terms that Drivers in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne County are likely to see:

MSP Car Small.JPGOWI – Operating While Intoxicated. This is the actual term used in the law to describe a Drunk Driving charge in Michigan. OWI applies to Driver’s whose Bodily Alcohol Level (BAC) is .08 or higher.

OWVI – Operating While Visibly Impaired.
This is the term used to describe the less-severe type of Drunk Driving (and Impaired by Drugs) Charge. More commonly referred to a “Impaired Driving,” this charge applies to Driver’s whose BAC is below the level of .08, and Driver’s whose abilities are impaired by Drugs or Controlled Substances.

OUID – Operating Under the Influence of Drugs.
This charge is to Controlled Substances and Drugs what OWI is to Alcohol.

OWPD – Operating in the Presence of Drugs. This charge refers to a Driver who is found to have any amount of Drugs (for which they don’t have a prescription) or Controlled Substances in their system. Fortunately, it’s not a very common charge, but it means, for example, that a Driver who tests positive for Marijuana, even though they may not have used it all (second-hand smoke) or who used it weeks ago, is presumed to be in violation of the law.

These are exact terms used in Michigan Law. While there are several other offenses not covered here, those listed above are, by far, the ones adult Drivers in Michigan are most likely to encounter. Several other terms frequently seen and used are either obsolete or not part of Michigan’s Drunk Driving Laws:

DUI – Driving Under the Influence. Perhaps the most commonly used term that does not exist in Michigan Law, this term is used in other states, and is so common in the media and press that it has a life of it’s own for describing the whole field of Drunk Driving Charges. So many people, including lawyers, use the term, that even I use it in some of my Blog posts and web site pages.

OUIL – Operating Under the Influence of Liquor. This is the old, obsolete Michigan Law that defined Drunk Driving as having a BAC of .10 or above.

UBAL – Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Level.
This, likewise is part of old, obsolete Michigan law that made it illegal to drive with a BAC of .10 or above.

UBAC – Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Content. This term was never used in Michigan Law, although it shows up (without any sound reason) from time to time in discussions and writings about Drunk Driving Charges.

Hopefully, this little primer has helped to clear up some of the confusion regarding the “alphabet soup” of Drunk Driving Charges. For more information about these and other Alcohol and Drug-Related Driving Charges, and their Penalties, visit my Drunk Driving Quick Start Guide, where I not only explain many of these things in detail, but link to various charts and sections of the Michigan Secretary of State’s web site for further explanation and illustration.

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