What’s The Difference Between a DUI and a OWI Here in Michigan?

Whatever you call it, drunk driving is illegal in Michigan and can get you into serious trouble with the law!

We use acronyms everyday without every really knowing what they stand for. (For example, did you know that LASER: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation?) Which brings us to the subject we wanted to talk to you about today – drunk driving acronyms. Do you know what they mean, and which ones are relevant? Can you tell the difference between a DUI, an OWI and a BUI? No? Well, that’s what we wanted to break down for you today.

DUI (Driving Under the Influence):

This is probably the most well known acronym for drunk driving, even here in Michigan. But did you know that it’s not actually the legal term used in Michigan’s criminal law? That’s right, they changed it years ago because the term “Driving under the influence” means that in order for the charge to stick you had to actually be driving. In Michigan, even sitting in a parked car with the keys in the ignition and more booze in your system than the legal limit is grounds for a drunk driving charge. So the proper term now used here in Michigan for drunk driving is…

OWI (Operating While Intoxicated):

This is the term Michigan drunk driving law uses to describe people who had one (or two, or three, or…however many) too many. So if you get pulled over and charged with drunk driving, this is what you’re up against. And if you happen to be sitting (or sleeping) behind the wheel of a parked car with the keys in the ignition but the engine turned off, this charge applies as well, as “operating” can mean a lot more than just driving a car!

DWI (Driving While Intoxicated):

DWI can also mean Driving While Impaired, and like ‘DUI’, the term ‘was one of the first acronyms used to describe drunk driving in the U.S. However, here in Michigan we no longer use this term in a legal setting. Like DUI, it limited police and prosecutors to people who were actually driving vehicles, whereas changing the law to the more vague “operating” allowed more leeway for law enforcement to make arrests when people weren’t actually driving.

BUI (Boating Under the Influence):

It may sound like a strange term, but under Michigan law you can’t operate a boat while you’re intoxicated. And in case you weren’t sure, the BAC for boats is the same as it is for cars and other vehicles on the road in Michigan – .08.

There are other terms you may have heard over the years…

DUIL, which refers to ‘Driving Under the Influence of Liquor’ is a very specific term that’s only used in a few states these days, but Michigan isn’t one of them. DUII (Driving Under the Influence of an Intoxicant) is used exclusively by the state of Oregon, while DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) only happens in Colorado, and DWUI (Driving While Under the Influence) is only something you’d ever be charged with in Wyoming. Michigan, however, doesn’t use any of these acronyms.

Whatever you call it, drunk driving is serious business!

Whether you use one of Michigan’s legally proper drunk driving terms, or a common acronym that everyone understands (despite it being erased from the legal lingo of the day) being charged with this crime is no joke! Losing your license, spending time behind bars, and having your car impounded are all very real consequences of drunk driving in Michigan. Which is why, if you’ve been arrested for OWI in Michigan, you’re going to need help from the best!

We can help you with your DUI charges.

Here at The Kronzek Firm, our tenacious and hard working drunk driving defense attorneys take an aggressive stance when it comes to the defense of our clients. We explore every option, consider every angle, and work tirelessly to ensure that you get the best defense. So if you’re facing a drunk driving or a drugged driving charge, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245 (866 7No Jail) and let the pros help you work through this. We’re not here to judge you, we’re here to fight for you.

Tagged with:
Posted in For Your Information
As a physician and owner of two businesses, my wife and I recognize professionalism, dedicated thoroughness and competence. Stephanie M. Service was all of the above and more, she truly was a G-dsend for our family. We knew right away she was the attorney our case needed and she met all our expectations. She also made the case personal and helped calm our fears. We will always be grateful for what Stephanie has done for us.
Doug on Facebook, 2017

Talk To A DUI Defense Lawyer

call us
email us