I thought it was a DWI – what is an OVI?
Ohio often uses the term 'OVI', which stands for 'Operating a Vehicle Impaired', for drunk driving charges, but it is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘DWI’, which is ‘Driving While Impaired.’ OVI has begun to be used more frequently because it covers more than just driving under the influence of alcohol; it also includes operating a vehicle in any way, which might not be driving, and impairment caused by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, not just alcohol.
What are my rights if I get pulled over for an OVI/DWI?
If you get pulled over for an OVI in Ohio, you have several important rights to keep in mind. Have your license, registration, and insurance documents ready to present, too. While you must comply with the officer's instruction to pull over, you do not have to admit to drinking or submit to any field sobriety tests without legal counsel. However, it’s important to know that you can lose your driver’s license immediately if you refuse to take a chemical test to record your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. If arrested, you have the right to remain silent, but you must clearly communicate this to the officer. You will also have the right to make a phone call, which should be used to call our attorneys or a loved one who can call us instead.
Are field sobriety tests accurate?
Field sobriety tests (FST) are used by law enforcement to determine if a person is impaired, but their overall accuracy is contested. According to various sources, these tests are not always reliable or scientifically proven methods for determining impairment. For instance, the test that requires a driver to stand on one leg can be contaminated by a leg injury, uneven ground, or everyday nervousness. The reliability of a field sobriety test is so questionable that sober individuals can still "fail" these tests while impaired drivers may "pass".
How are blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels tested by the police?
Police use three main methods to measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels: breath tests, blood tests, and urine tests. Breath testing is the most common method used by law enforcement because breath analysis devices, often referred to as breathalyzers, are portable, quick, and non-invasive. During a breath test, the BAC is estimated from the concentration of alcohol in one's breath. Blood tests, while more accurate, are less commonly used due to their invasive nature and the need for medical personnel. Urine tests are less accurate than both blood and breath tests and are typically used when other methods are not available.
Why was I charged with an OVI/DUI if my BAC level tested below 0.08?
Even if your BAC tests below the legal limit of 0.08, you can still be charged with Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI) or similar offenses in some situations. This is because the law considers not just the BAC, but also the level of impairment. If law enforcement officers have reason to believe that your ability to operate a vehicle has been appreciably impaired by alcohol, even if your BAC is below 0.08, they may charge you with an OVI. This could be based on observed behavior, performance on field sobriety tests, or other evidence of impairment. Additionally, certain states have lower BAC limits for specific populations, such as commercial drivers or individuals under the legal drinking age.
What are the usual defenses against a drunk driving charge?
Defenses against a drunk driving charge typically focus on challenging the legality of the traffic stop, the administration and results of field sobriety tests, or the accuracy of breathalyzer or blood tests. An attorney may argue that the police officer had no probable cause to make the initial traffic stop, which could potentially invalidate any evidence obtained thereafter. The defense might also scrutinize the administration of field sobriety tests, arguing that they were improperly conducted or that external factors such as uneven ground, poor lighting, or physical conditions affected the results. Finally, the accuracy of breathalyzer or blood tests can be questioned, with the defense arguing that the device was not properly calibrated or maintained, or that the test was improperly administered.
What happens if I plead no contest to an OVI/DUI charge?
Pleading "no contest" to an OVI charge means that you are not admitting guilt, but you are acknowledging that the prosecution likely has enough evidence to convict you. The outcome of a no contest plea is similar to a guilty plea; you will be convicted and sentenced for the OVI offense. The sentence can include fines, probation, mandatory alcohol education programs, license suspension, installation of an ignition interlock device, or even jail time. However, a no contest plea might have advantages in certain situations, so you should discuss the option with our Cleveland OVI attorneys.
Can my OVI/DUI charge be reduced to a reckless operation charge?
In certain circumstances, an OVI charge can be reduced to a reckless operation charge. This typically involves negotiation between your defense attorney and the prosecutor, and is more likely if it's your first offense, if your BAC was close to the legal limit, or if there are issues with the evidence against you. Having an OVI charge reduced to a reckless operation charge can have significant benefits, as the penalties for reckless operation are generally less severe than those for an OVI. To see if this option might be possible for your case, talk to our legal team today.
Will I lose my driver’s license for one OVI/DUI conviction?
If you are convicted of an OVI offense in Ohio, you will most likely lose your driver's license. The length of the suspension depends on several factors, with a heavy focus on whether it's your first offense. It’s possible to lose your license for years or indefinitely. It's also worth noting that an OVI conviction could potentially lead to the suspension of a professional license, which could impact your employment.
What does physical control of a vehicle mean?
Physical control of a vehicle refers to the ability to exercise direct influence over a vehicle's operation, even if the vehicle is not in motion at the time. This means you are in a position to start the vehicle and set it in motion. It's important to note that you can be considered in physical control of a vehicle even if you're not actually driving or operating it. For example, if you're sitting in the driver's seat with the keys in the ignition, or even nearby in the car, you could be considered in physical control. You can even be considered to have “physical control” of a vehicle if you’re asleep in the back seat and the keys are in the front seat!