Facing an OVI can be an incredibly scary, stressful experience—regardless of whether you made a mistake or were wrongfully accused. You probably have a lot of questions about the process and the potential consequences of conviction. Casper & Casper is here to answer them.
We’ve compiled a list of the most common questions we get from clients. Keep reading for a list of a few of the important things you need to know after an OVI arrest.
What’s an OVI? Is it different from a DUI?
OVI, DUI, DWI, and OMVI are different acronyms that mean essentially the same thing: operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Ohio moved away from using DUI and DWI in 1982 when it passed a law referring to drunk or drugged driving as OMVI: Operating a Motor Vehicle Impaired. However, Ohio has since dropped the “motorized” requirement of the law, meaning that it’s possible to be arrested for operating a bicycle while impaired.
Note: OVI charges can apply to legal drug use such as driving while using prescription allergy medication that makes you groggy and thus impairs your ability to safely operate the vehicle.
How much alcohol can I drink before I risk getting an OVI charge?
The legal limit for blood alcohol and breath alcohol content is .08 (a number you’ve probably heard before). What you might not have known is that there are different legal limits for urine and blood plasma: .11 and .096, respectively.
The number of drinks you can consume before reaching this limit depends on several factors, including your sex, weight, metabolism, rate of consumption and even medications you are on. A 140-lb. man can drink more than a 140-lb. woman before becoming intoxicated. A smaller man will become intoxicated sooner than a heavier man.
Conventional wisdom says that it is okay to consume one drink per hour, with a drink being 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor (at 40% alcohol), 12 ounces of beer (at 4.5% alcohol), or 5 ounces of wine (at 12% alcohol). However, it’s important to remember that, even if you are under the legal limit, you can still be arrested and charged with an OVI: the arresting officer and prosecutor may argue that you were noticeably impaired. In addition, you can be charged with other traffic offenses.
Can I refuse roadside sobriety tests? What about breath or blood tests?
You have the right to refuse to perform roadside sobriety tests, such as walking the line or standing on one leg. It is not a crime to refuse these tests, and you don’t face any penalties if you do so.
Like roadside sobriety tests, chemical tests measuring your BAC are voluntary: if you are asked to submit to them, you can refuse. However, you face penalties for doing so. In Ohio, your license will be automatically suspended for one year after your first refusal, and the penalties increase after every subsequent refusal. This Administrative License Suspension (ALS) can be lifted if the court declares it void or you win your ALS appeal.
There are some circumstances where you may want to refuse a breathalyzer or blood test. Learn more by reading Should I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?
What happens if I test above the legal limit?
If your chemical tests show your BAC to be above .08, you will face OVI charges and an Administrative License Suspension for 90 days.
Ohio also has laws on the books that enhance the penalties for high BAC results. If you test at or above .17 for blood or breath, .204 for blood plasma, or .238 for urine, you face double the minimum jail time of an OVI conviction.
Can I be convicted if I wasn’t actually driving?
If the prosecution cannot prove that you were operating your vehicle—but you were found in the driver’s seat with keys in the ignition—this can result in a “physical control” conviction. This charge is also a first-degree misdemeanor, but is differs from an OVI charge in that is does not come with minimum penalties. It also does not “count” as a previous offense in the case of a future OVI charge.
What are the penalties for a first-time offense?
Even for a first-time offense, the penalties of an OVI conviction can be severe and shouldn’t be taken lightly. They include the following:
– A fine of a minimum of $375 and a maximum of $1,075
– A $475 driver’s license reinstatement fee
– Any costs associated with a Driver Intervention Program, if you are required to attend
– A three-day jail sentence or a mandatory three-day Driver Intervention Program, if your BAC was between .08 and .17
– A six-day jail sentence or a three-day jail sentence and three-day Driver Intervention Program, if your BAC was .17 or higher
– A Class Five license suspension ranging from 180 days to three years (with potential limited driving privileges), if your BAC was between .08 and .17
– Potential mandatory installation of yellow plates or an ignition interlock device in your car, if your BAC was .17 or higher
If you’ve been charged with OVI in Ohio, you likely have more questions. Our OVI attorneys at Casper & Casper would be happy to answer them.
Call us today for a free consultation. During this consultation, we will listen to you, let you know your options, and help you determine how best to fight your charges.
– Ohio State Bar Association – DUI, DWI, OMVI and OVI: What Do They Mean?
– Ohio State Bar Association – Understand OVI Laws before Taking the Wheel
– Ohio State Bar Association – What You Should Know about OVI Penalties for First-Time Offenders
– Ohio State Bar Association – Know Penalties for Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence