What Is The Difference Between DUI, DWI, and OWI?
This is a common question with a fairly simple answer. Every state sets its own drunk driving laws. Some states call it DUI or DWI or something similar, while Michigan calls it OWI. Because DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) implies a prosecutor must prove a defendant was “driving,” Michigan legislators decided to call it OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) to eliminate the “driving” requirement and allow prosecutors to merely prove that a defendant was “operating” a vehicle. This means even if a police officer does not actually see a person driving, the officer may still be able to arrest them for Operating While Intoxicated. Therefore, a person sitting inside a car may be charged with OWI even if the car was not being driven
What Does An OWI Conviction Mean To Me?
Being convicted of an alcohol related driving offense in Michigan means you will ALWAYS have a criminal record. Even though convictions for some crimes can be expunged or set aside, meaning it gets removed from your public record, alcohol related driving convictions cannot be removed. Further, aside from the penalties the court may assess, such as jail time, fines, and probation, your driver’s license will be affected, your insurance rates will go up, and you may lose your job – or be prevented from obtaining certain jobs. An OWI conviction can be very costly – especially if you don’t hire the right attorney. Not only is Ed Sternisha licensed as an attorney, he also holds licenses or certifications in many other areas, including being licensed as a private investigator, and as an insurance agent. He was also a police officer who made many drunk driving arrests and knows exactly what rules the police must follow. Ed uses his experience in these other areas to help him better serve each client who comes into his office. Plus, Ed only handles drunk driving cases – meaning it is not simply something he dabbles in; it is 100% of his business!
If stopped by the police, remember, you still have your basic constitutional rights, so remain silent. Any admissions you make WILL be used against you. For most adult drivers without a CDL, if you refuse to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) at the roadside you will be responsible for a civil infraction. A civil infraction IS NOT a crime and you cannot be arrested for it - you will merely be assessed a fine. If you decide to take a PBT or perform FSTs, the results WILL be used against you and the police may decide to arrest you at that point. If you do not take the tests, the police will have less evidence to use against you later and without sufficient probable cause, the police cannot arrest you. Currently there is NO PENALTY for refusing to perform field sobriety tests - (except under a limited roadside pilot program in select counties).
If arrested, the police may ask you to submit to an evidential chemical test (breath, blood, or urine). This test is different than the PBT you may have submitted to at the roadside and your failure to submit to this test will result in your driving privileges being suspended for at least one year. Remember, this is the test that you are asked to do AFTER being arrested. Refusal of this test is not a crime either, however, if you refuse to submit, the police may obtain a search warrant from a judge allowing them to obtain a blood sample.
Regardless of what evidence the police may claim to have against you, do not make any admissions and plead NOT GUILTY at your arraignment. Let Attorney Ed Sternisha investigate your case to see if the police followed all procedures properly. Do not go it alone - you have too much to lose!
Remember, if you drink, call a cab. If arrested, Call Ed Instead!
Michigan Court of Appeals Agrees With Attorney Sternisha
Attorney Ed Sternisha spent 4 years fighting for a client who was charged with drunk driving. Ultimately Ed was able to prove the traffic stop was illegal because the police had the wrong speed limit. As such, all evidence was suppressed.
Lawyer Says Field Sobriety Tests Are Not Mandatory
Are you required to submit to field sobriety tests during an OWI investigation in Grand Rapids, Michigan if a police officer asks you to? Believe it or not, there is no penalty for politely saying, no. Whether you live in Allegan, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Ottawa, or Barry county, "Call Ed Instead!"
[Non Attorney spokesperson]