Operating While Visibly Impaired, or OWVI, in Michigan is almost never charged from the beginning. However, it is commonly offered to a first offender of OWI.
Definition of Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) in Michigan
This offense is not associated with a blood alcohol content level such as .06. It’s never charged as the original offense because those that are under the legal limit of .08 for OWI aren’t 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 in Michigan 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.