Thousands of people are arrested in Ohio every year for allegedly operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OVI). Many alleged offenders are people with no prior criminal records who have no experience with the criminal justice system.
Brian Joslyn is an experienced OVI lawyer in Dayton, OH. He defends clients all over Montgomery County as well as surrounding communities in Greene County, Miami County, and Clark County. On this section of our website, you can find answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) that many alleged offenders have in OVI cases.
The Joslyn Law Firm represents first-time offenders as well as people accused of repeat OVI offenses. You can receive a complete evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation by calling (937) 356-3969 today.
Overview of Ohio OVI FAQs
- What is the difference between a DUI and an OVI?
- Is there any way I will not be convicted if I failed a breath test?
- What evidence can be used to convict me if I refused all sobriety tests?
- Why was I arrested if I passed the field sobriety tests?
- What does implied consent mean?
- How long will I be unable to drive?
- How could I be charged for being in “physical control” of a vehicle even though I wasn’t driving?
- What are restricted license plates?
- Will I have to install an ignition interlock device in my vehicle?
- I know that I was guilty, so why should I hire a lawyer?
In the state of Ohio, OVI is the common abbreviation used for drunk driving offenses. In many other parts of the country, these crimes are referred to as driving under the influence (DUI).
Other abbreviations in certain jurisdictions include driving while intoxicated (DWI), operating while intoxicated (OWI), and operating under the influence (OUI).
Yes. Any number of issues may result in a person failing a breath test despite not being legally intoxicated. Breath test results may be inadmissible if the person who administered the test was not properly licensed or the equipment was not properly maintained.
Breath tests conducted during an alleged offender’s absorption period may produce a false positive. Consumption of certain foods, drinks, or medication can also be misinterpreted as alcohol by some machines.
What evidence can be used to convict me if I refused all sobriety tests?
Even if you did not agree to submit to any chemical or field sobriety tests, police officers can still place you under arrest based on their observations and prosecutors can still file the formal charges.
Officers can provide testimony regarding your alleged conduct before and after the traffic stop, and prosecutors will attempt to use your refusal as evidence that you knew you were intoxicated.
The truth about field sobriety tests is that they are essentially designed for people to fail. The results can be particularly subjective as any perfectly reasonable waver or twitch by a subject can be interpreted as failure (and hence, intoxication) by a police officer.
Keep in mind that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) only recognizes three field sobriety tests: Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the Walk and Turn, and One-Leg Stand tests.
Some officers may use non-standardized tests such as counting backwards, reciting the alphabet, or a finger-to-nose test, but all field sobriety tests are bound to reinforce an officer’s opinion that an alleged offender is impaired—regardless of performance.
Like every other state in the country, Ohio has an implied consent law in which residents are deemed to have given implied consent to all chemical and field sobriety tests to determine possible impairment simply by being a licensed driver in the state.
Refusing to submit to these tests when stopped by a police officer thus triggers an automatic suspension of driving privileges for at least one year.
The length of an alleged offender’s license suspension depends on several factors. When a motorist agrees to a chemical test and has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater, then the length of the suspension depends on the number of prior convictions in the previous six years:
- No Prior Convictions — License suspended for 90 days, limited driving privileges possible after 15 days;
- One Prior Conviction — License suspended for one year, limited driving privileges possible after 45 days;
- Two Prior Convictions — License suspended for two years, limited driving privileges possible after 180 days; and
- Three or More Prior Convictions — License suspended for three years, no limited driving privileges.
If a motorist refuses to submit to a chemical test, the length of the suspension depends on the number of prior refusals and/or convictions in the previous six years:
- No Prior Convictions and/or Refusals — License suspended for one year, limited driving privileges possible after 30 days;
- One Prior Conviction or Refusal — License suspended for two years, limited driving privileges possible after 90 days;
- Two Prior Convictions and/or Refusals — License suspended for three years, limited driving privileges possible after one year; and
- Three or More Prior Convictions and/or Refusals — License suspended for five years, limited driving privileges possible after three years.
Ohio Revised Code § 4511.194 states that no person shall be in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them. This statute essentially means that if a police officer cannot prove that a vehicle was moving, an alleged offender could still be charged because there was the potential of driving.
Unfortunately, the law can be broadly applied to many people who may have simply been sleeping or sitting in their automobiles. A physical control offense is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to six months in jail, and a driver’s license suspension of up to one year.
Judges may also order alleged offenders to obtain restricted license plates and/or install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles.
Restricted plates in Ohio are yellow license plates with red lettering. They are frequently referred to as “party plates,” and judges may require alleged offenders obtain them in order to receive any kind of driving privileges following an OVI arrest.
Restricted plates are typically required for high BAC test first OVI offenses and all second or subsequent arrests. The design not only publicly shames DUI offenders, but also leads to family members who might share use of the same vehicle being pulled over for trivial reasons.
Installation of ignition interlock devices (also called IIDs) is optional in most first OVI cases, but is required in subsequent alcohol-related OVI cases.
IIDs can be a very costly burden for alleged offenders to bear, as it not only costs several hundreds of dollars to install the devices but people must also pay a monthly fee to have them calibrated.
Even if you are convinced that you were legally drunk and plan on pleading guilty in hopes of some mercy from the court, it is always in your best interest to have an experienced attorney investigate your arrest to see if any possible violations of your rights or other procedural errors may result in the charges being reduced or completely dismissed.
A skilled lawyer will know the best way to handle your case and achieve the most favorable possible outcome.
If you have a question that you do not see listed here, you can have Dayton criminal defense attorney Brian Joslyn review your case and discuss all of your legal options. Call (937) 356-3969 or submit an online form right now to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.