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Difference between DUI, impaired driving charges slight in MI

Michigan law enforcement continues to aggressively pursue those they suspect of driving under the influence. As we discussed in a recent article on our website, even if a motorist has just a trace amount of a drug in their system when they get pulled over, they could still face criminal charges -- possibly even if the drug is a legal prescription medication or over the counter medicine.

Michigan law creates a distinction between “operating while intoxicated,” commonly known as DUI or DWI, and “impaired driving.” A motorist is guilty of OWI when he or she is driving while “under the influence” of alcohol, a controlled substance, or a combination of the two. Police may test a suspect’s breath or blood for the presence of drugs and alcohol.

The legal limit for blood-alcohol content is .08. Any amount of certain drugs in the bloodstream may lead to a DUI charge. These are drugs considered to be highly addictive and with no accepted medical use.

On the other hand, impaired driving refers to situations where the driver is “visibly impaired” by drugs or alcohol, though the amount in their system does not rise to the level of DUI. However, the potential punishments are very close for the crimes of DUI and impaired driving, with the latter’s maximum fine a little lower.

Sometimes, you may become impaired by a medication prescribed by your physician without realizing it. It is important to find out if a new prescription drug has a recommendation against driving, before you end up arrested on suspicion of OWI or impaired driving.

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