OWVI, UBAC/UBAL, and OWI — Understanding Michigan Drunk Driving Charges

“Drunk driving” is a term we’ve all heard, whether on TV and movies or on the news. However, drunk driving charges are a bit more complicated than many people realize. Here in Michigan, a person can be charged with three specific drunk driving offenses: OWVI, UBAC/UBAL, and OWI.

Drunk Driving Offenses in Michigan

Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI)

Regardless of your blood alcohol level (BAC), you can be charged with an OWVI. This means that regardless of whether you had one drink or several, a police officer can arrest you if he or she feels that you’re not capable of safely driving your vehicle.

OWVI is not exclusively related to drinking and driving — an officer can say he or she believes drugs have impaired your ability to drive.

OWVI Penalties for a First Offense

If this is your first offense, penalties for an OWVI typically include:

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Fines of up to $300
  • Community service
  • The temporary loss of your driver’s license

Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Content/Level (UBAC/UBAL)

If it’s determined that you have a BAC of over 0.08 (the legal limit), you can be charged with Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Content. Unlike with an OWVI, which relies on a police officer’s observations and discretion, UBAC charges often rely on a breathalyzer test.

If you’re ever pulled over under suspicion of drunk or impaired driving, you’ll likely be given a field sobriety test and breathalyzer. And while it may be tempting to refuse the breathalyzer, because you believe you will “blow” at or above 0.08, this may pose even more problems.

Under Michigan’s Implied Consent Law, all drivers are considered to have given their consent to this test the day they get their license. Because of that, refusing to take the test means you’ll face serious consequences, including points on your license, fines, and/or a suspended license.

UBAC/UBAL Penalties for a First Offense

If you’re convinced of a UBAC or UBAL, you may face:

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 45 days of community service
  • Fines up to $500

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)

Operating While Intoxicated is a broad term that includes both drunk driving and/or driving while under the influence of drugs. And because of the way it’s phrased, this also means an intoxicated person can be charged with an OWI even if they’re only sitting behind the wheel of a running car and not driving.

OWI First Offense Penalties

A first offense charge can carry one or multiple of the following maximum penalties:

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 45 days of community service
  • Fine of up to $500, plus additional costs
  • Driver’s license completely suspended for 30 days, followed by 150 days restricted
  • Possible vehicle immobilization
  • Possible ignition interlock
  • Six points added to your driving record

The Importance of Hiring a Michigan-Based Lawyer

Drunk driving cases are more complicated than many people realize. Here at Rodenhouse Law Group, we’ll investigate and look for improperly-administered field sobriety tests or breathalyzers, mishandled evidence, and proof of an improper stop.

Driving under the influence can have a severe impact on the rest of your life. In addition to the above penalties, you can face even more serious charges if this is your second or third offense.

Criminal charges involving drunk or impaired driving are not to be handled lightly in Michigan, and you deserve an attentive and aggressive criminal defense lawyer on your side to defend against any unfair or false accusations. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today. Call (616) 344-5066 or fill out an online contact form here.