First Time Michigan DUI Offense Penalties: OWVI Operating While Impaired

Operating While Visibly Impaired First Offense

A first time Michigan DUI offense can usually be reduced to impaired driving, also known as OWVI. An OWVI counts as a drunk driving conviction, so it is important to consider speaking to a DUI Attorney about challenging the case before accepting a plea to impaired. If you have a prior conviction for OWVI (or even a Minor BAC), a second offense within 7 years qualifies as an OWI 2nd, and a third offense for any combination of drunk driving offenses in a lifetime qualifies as a felony. Likewise, if a person is charged with operating while intoxicated with a passenger under 16 years of age in the vehicle, the driver will be charged with a felony drunk driving offense if the motorist has a prior conviction for any drunk driving offense, including OWVI.  It is very important to consider the long term consequences of taking a plea to Operating While Impaired, keeping in mind that Michigan does not remove these offenses from a person's record,they are considered Life Time Offenses.  

Under the Legal Limit of .08

We find people are often shocked to find out they can be charged with Operation While Visibly Impaired when they are under the legal limit of .08.  There is no low limit for a charge of visibly impaired.   Also, a person under the age of 21 with any amount of alcohol may be charged with OWVI .   While the penalties are less severe, and many people are attracted to the idea of a Restricted License verses the hard suspension attached to a OWI, it is still an alcohol related offense and will impact you for the rest of your life according to Michigan Law.  An Experienced and Aggressive DUI Attorney can help you understand how this charge will impact you long term.  Attorney William Maze has extensive experience evaluating Drunk and Drugged Driving cases.  Mr. Maze has a proven track record when it comes to fighting cases through motions, trial, or negotiation of a reduced charge to a Non Alcohol offense.


Summary of Penalties for OWVI

  • Recorded as "misdemeanor" conviction as opposed to felony conviction on criminal record                
  • Jail up to 93 days
  • Probation for up to 2 years with alcohol and drug monitoring
  • Fines up to $300, "plus court costs" which totals over $1,000.00
  • 90 days restricted driving on Michigan driver's license, i.e. to / from / and in connection with work, court ordered programs, and emergency medical treatment
  • Up to 360 hours community service
  • Four points on your Michigan driver's license
  • $500.00 for the first year and $250.00 for the second year following conviction as a "Driver Responsibility Fee" charged by the Secretary of State through the Michigan Department of Treasury


In Michigan a second offense for either OWI or OWVI within seven years of a prior OWI or OWVI results in tougher penalties, greater likelihood of jail, and a lifetime revocation of a person's driver's license. A third offense for any combination of OWI and OWVI charges in a lifetime is a felony OWI 3rd offense, which carries mandatory jail and a possible prison term of up to 5 years.  


Can I get a Michigan DUI reduced to Reckless Driving?   

It may be possible in some jurisdictions to get a drunk driving charge reduced to reckless driving or even a careless driving. Reckless is the more likely to be offered, and can still be hard to obtain. While many people hope for a reduction to reckless driving instead of a drunk driving conviction, reckless driving carries a 90 day "hard" suspension. A hard suspension means that there are no restricted privileges. The convicted motorist may not drive for 90 days at all under any circumstance, and getting caught driving during this period of time will result in additional sanctions as well as a new criminal charged of "Driving While License Suspended / Denied / Revoked" (DWLS). A first offense impaired conviction, on the other hand, carries only a 90 restriction on a person's driver's license. Given the choice between the two alternatives, many people prefer to save the driver's license. In cases where the motorist is facing a charge of OWI 2nd, however, the reduction down to a reckless driving is a no-brainer because a person's driver's license is revoked after two alcohol-related convictions within 7 years. 


DUI Defense Attorney William Maze has been defending people against charges such as these for 20 years.  He has extensive training in all areas of DUI Defense and is ready to discuss your case today.  Call us 24/7, or contact us online for your free evaluation.