OWI - OUI - DWI - DUI
I've represented hundreds of clients charged with drunk, intoxicated, and impaired driving. I have provided representation in dozens of trials and significant motion practice. Cases have involved alcohol, prescription medication, sleep-driving, marijuana, controlled substances, cars, trucks, ORVs, and watercraft.
Common defenses raised include attacking the legality of traffic stops, disputing chemical test results, suppressing blood draws and breath samples, and challenging sobriety tests.
About OUI and OWI
While you're not likely to hear anyone say that drunk driving is a good thing, the fact is that accidents happen. Impaired and intoxicated driving will continue to happen. Mistakes are made. Drugs and alcohol impair judgment, which is of course one of the reasons operating while under the influence is illegal.
While society is seemingly quicker and quicker to judge people accused of intoxicated and impaired driving, the penalties and consequences are undoubtedly outpacing those of same-level offenses.
OWI-DUI carries mandatory fines, court costs, responsibility fees, and license actions. It also carries the risk of jail, vehicle immobilization, and an ignition interlock device. Alcohol or substance abuse treatment will likely be required. So at the same time the law requires you to pay thousands of dollars, it limits your ability to drive, possibly revoking your license, making it hard or impossible to get to work or school.
The prosecutor probably has strong evidence against you, but a knowledgeable and compelling attorney can engage in the sort of damage control you need and probably can't do on your own. More importantly, an experienced attorney skilled in litigating intoxicated and impaired driving cases has a much better chance of successfully fighting your case.
Types of Intoxicated, Drunk, and Impaired Driving
OWI? OUI? OWVI? Which is it?
Drunk driving, impaired driving, DWI, OWI, OUI — many different names that mean pretty much the same thing: operating a motor vehicle when you’ve had too much of something to exercise the same care as someone else.
These cases are charged in many different ways. First, there’s the obvious 0.08 “legal limit” for alcohol. This alcohol content can obtained from a person’s breath or blood. Second, there’s having an unknown alcohol level or even an alcohol level below 0.08. In cases such as this, individuals can be charged under the theory that they are visibly impaired or that there is enough other evidence to prove that they are under the influence. Third, there is prescription medications, marijuana, and illegal drugs. Here, the situation can be similar to the unknown alcohol level. Because there’s generally no “legal limit” for prescription medications such as benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Valium) or opiates (e.g., Vicodin, OxyContin), the prosecution may prove that a person is impaired by whatever is in their system by that person’s speech, demeanor, manner of driving, and performance on field sobriety tests. In states such as Michigan, any amount of a schedule one controlled substance is enough to support a conviction.
DWI — Driving While Intoxicated
DUI —Driving Under the Influence
OWI — Operating While Intoxicated
OUI — Operating Under the Influence
OWVI — Operating While Visibly Impaired
Refusing a Chemical Test
Once under arrest for an OWI-type offense, if a person refuses to submit to a blood or breath test, the Secretary of State will suspend their license for one year (for a first offense). This is challengeable at an administrative hearing, but only on four specific grounds:
Whether the officer has reasonable greounds to bleive that the person committed a crime described in MCL 257.625(c)(1);
Whether the person was placed under arrest for a crime described in MCL 257.625(a)(1);
Whether the person was advised of the rights under MCL 257.624(A)(6); and
Whether the person unreasonably refused to submit to the test upon the request of the peace officer.
Note that these rules pertain to post-arrest chemical tests. The roadside breathalyzer (a PBT or preliminary breath test) is a different matter. That test is generally used to establish probable cause to arrest and refusing it is a civil infraction unless the driver was operating a commercial motor vehicle, in which case it can be charged as a 93 day misdemeanor and will result in a 24-hout out-of-service order.
Second or Subsequent Offenses
In Michigan, a second OWI-type offense within 7 years generally affects the sentence range for the conviction, but the offense remains a misdemeanor. A third offense EVER raises the offense to a felony. Felony offenses have much more severe penalties and other substantial impacts.
Some of the favorable DUI-OWI results obtained by Michael Horowitz include:
State v. CL – motion to suppress granted based on illegal search, case dismissed.
State v. MG – argued client wasn't driver, jury found client not guilty.
State v. DR – felony – argued client not driving, jury found client not guilty.
State v. SC – motion to suppress evidence based on involuntariness, case dismissed.
State v. MM – .17 breath test, jury found client not guilty.
State v. MH – motion to suppress for rights violation, case dismissed.
State v. CM – challenged impairment with medical experts, convicted but reversed on appeal.
State v. VD – felony – challenged breathalyzer at trial, resulted in hung jury, settled for reckless driving.