Despite a decades-long crackdown, the Centers for Disease Control states that twenty-eight Americans die every day in alcohol-related car crashes. More broadly-worded DUI laws are a significant component of that crackdown. For example, many people are unaware that they need not be “driving” a vehicle to be convicted of DUI. In fact, you may even be charged with operating a vehicle if your car isn’t moving at all. Moreover, you do not need to be “drunk” in the ordinary sense of the word.

To more accurately reflect this dynamic, drivers in Ohio are charged with OVI (operating a vehicle under the influence). The law says you’re in physical control of the vehicle if you’re behind the wheel and the keys are within easy reach. You may also be charged with an Ohio DUI if the arresting officer had probable cause to believe you drove the car to the location where it was parked. Furthermore, you must only be “under the influence,” which basically means that your physical and/or mental faculties have been reduced by alcohol or another substance.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of operating any vehicle, even a horse-drawn buggy, after drinking alcohol, don’t assume the fallout will be less severe. An OVI is just as serious as an old-fashioned DUI. You need an experienced Ohio OVI lawyer with investigative experience to help you minimize the damage.

Proving Legal Impairment

As in most states, you’re legally impaired in Ohio if your blood alcohol content, or BAC, is .08 percent or higher. But Ohio law also provides guidelines for other means of testing besides the traditional Breathalyzer test or blood draw. You’re impaired if a urine sample shows an alcohol concentration of .11 percent, or if a blood serum, or plasma, sample — as opposed to a regular blood test — shows a level of .096 percent.

In practical terms, peace officers nearly always use Breathalyzer tests, because even though the other tests are more accurate, they generally require search warrants and most officers don’t want to go through the extra red tape. Like all machines, Breathalyzers aren’t perfect. The results can be challenged on several grounds, including:

  • Mouth Alcohol: If the suspect burps or belches in the ten or fifteen minutes prior to the test, the mouth alcohol skews the results.
  • Acetone: Diabetics, smokers, and other people have abnormally high acetone levels, and the Breathalyzer registers this substance as ethanol.
  • Operator Error: More advanced Breathalyzers are also harder to operate, and they also require specialized maintenance to work properly.

A Columbus DUI lawyer can investigate the details of your arrest to try to find errors the arresting officer may have made when conducting the blood, urine or breathalyzer test. If successful, the charges may be thrown out.

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The Results of a Conviction

You stand to lose a lot if convicted, so it’s worth enlisting the help of a DUI lawyer to fight an Ohio OVI charge. A first offense means fines of up to $1,075, up to six months in jail and an administrative drivers’ license suspension of up to three years. The penalties rise substantially based on aggravating factors, like an injury crash, or the number of prior offenses. There are other penalties as well, such as higher auto insurance rates and those infamous “party plates” on your vehicle. These yellow license plates in Ohio designate restricted or limited driving privileges.

Refusing a Blood, Breath or Urine Test

Refusing a blood, breath or urine test won’t help the situation and could make it much worse. You can still be convicted on OVI charges based on the arresting officer’s observations — like failing the field sobriety tests, slurred speech, or weaving across lanes. If this isn’t your first offense, refusing to submit to testing is a criminal offense in Ohio.

DUI/OVI Defense Attorney in Columbus, Ohio

With so much at stake, it makes no sense to take chances and face charges on your own. I'm here to help. Contact us for a free consultation and analysis of your case. I offer 24/7 availability for emergency situations. We’re located in Columbus, Ohio, and come highly recommended and reviewed. Attorney Joe Halabi worked in the prosecutor office and seen it all. He has the experience to make sure a single mistake doesn’t complicate your life for years to come.