Ohio OVI

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DWI, DUI, OMVI, OVI……alphabet soup, right?  No, just some of the many acronyms that Ohio has used when referring to a charge of drunk driving.  DWI stands for driving while intoxicated, DUI for driving under the influence, OMVI for operating a motor vehicle while impaired and OVI for operating a vehicle while impaired. 

              Ohio has currently settled on OVI as the “official” name for driving under the influence.  This means you can get a charge for driving while under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.  The law does not limit this charge to cars either – you can get charged with an OVI for operating a bicycle or even a horse-drawn carriage.  Most of the changes in the acronym have been to encompass the wider scope of the law and not limit the offense to just cars or alcohol. 

              As Halloween approaches and you’re focused on getting the scariest wackiest costume to bar-hop in downtown Willoughby, be sure to also focus on how you will be getting to and from the area.  If you find yourself behind the wheel while impaired, the lights and sirens behind you will be your real-life horror movie. 

              What should you do if you do find yourself being pulled over under the suspicion of an OVI? The first thing to remember is to be courteous and respectful to the police officers.  Yelling, rudeness, or anger will not help the situation and will certainly not get you home any sooner.  This does not mean that you have to volunteer information that may incriminate you in any charge.  You do need to provide your full name and address and provide your driver’s license when asked. 

              Most likely, the officers will ask you to step out of the car for some field sobriety tests.  The tests that the officers will ask you to perform are provided by NHTSA and followed pretty consistently throughout northeast Ohio.  They include the walk and turn, the one-legged stand, and HGN eye test. If the officer does ask you to step out of the car, you do need to comply with that request.  However, you do not have to comply with the field sobriety tests.  However, although you can decline to take the tests, refusing them will not necessarily prevent you from being arrested. 

              Upon arrest, the officer will take you to the local police station.  Once at the station, the officer will ask you to take a breathalyzer test.  While you can also decline this test, it’s important to remember that Ohio is an implied consent state, which means that you are presumed to have given consent to the test.  Therefore, if you refuse the test, you may face additional penalties including a license suspension of up to one year.

              If you do agree to take the breathalyzer test, a result of over .08 is a “per se” violation.  This means that a jury can find you guilty of an OVI simply based on the result.  If your test result is over a .17, then you may be charged with a high level OVI.  This high-level charge has increased minimum jail time that may be enforced. 

                If you do find yourself charged with an Ohio OVI, be sure to contact Bangerter Law for an experienced OVI defense attorney right here in Willoughby, Ohio.