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Standard of Proof in a Michigan DUI Case

In Michigan, there are several different charges that may stem from a drunk or drugged driving arrest, which is why is it important to contact a Michigan DUI attorney. The specific offense that you are charged with will depend on the factors of your case. The more common charges include:

How Do These Charges Differ?

For the average person with no legal background, it may be difficult to distinguish these charges from one another. The most important thing to remember is that the prosecution is going to pursue whichever charge they think they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt in court. In order to do that, certain criteria must be met:

  • To be convicted of OWI, the prosecution must show that you were operating a vehicle while having a blood alcohol level of .08% or greater. In an OWI case, it does not matter how intoxicated you may have appeared or whether you “passed” the field sobriety tests. If the state can show that your BAC was at or above the legal threshold at the time of driving, you can be found guilty. In legal terms, this is referred to as the statutory or “per se” theory.
  • To be found guilty of OWVI, the state needs to show that your ability to safely operate the vehicle was lessened due to alcohol or drugs (or both). This means that you can end up with a drunk driving charge on your record even if you tested under .08% BAC. In the legal community, this is known as the common law theory.
  • The standard of proof for an OWPD or OWPCS charge involving illegal (non-prescription) drugs is even lower. To convict you of this charge, the state merely needs to show that, at the time of driving, you had a trace amount of any illicit or controlled substance in your system. This is especially troubling given the long detection time of certain drugs , such as marijuana.