This offense is almost never charged from the beginning (I have seen it charged once in over 20 years). However, it is commonly offered to a first offender of OWI.
Definition of Operating While Visibly Impaired OWVI
This offense is not associated with a blood alcohol content level such as .06. It is never charged as the original offense because those that are under the legal limit of .08 for OWI are not usually impaired or intoxicated. This offense is primarily used for plea bargaining purposes, typically on first offense cases but occasionally used on defendants with multiple prior offenses.
OWVI means a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was visibly impaired from the alcohol or controlled substances (drugs) that were consumed. In other words, the driver operated the vehicle with less ability than an ordinary careful driver would.
The driving impairment must be visible, meaning it was noticed by another person (like a police officer). A factual basis can be determined by the performance of the field sobriety tests. Not necessarily by observation of the driving alone.