What to do when facing OVI charges

What used to be known as DUI charges in the state of Ohio are now known as OVI, or operating a damaged vehicle. What many people don’t know about OVI/DUI charges is that the law is not limited to people who drive a traditional vehicle, such as a car or truck. An officer can charge you with drunk driving if you are driving a golf cart, ATV, lawn mower or even riding a bike.

If you think you can avoid an OVI/DUI arrest by sleeping in your car before you return home, you would be wrong. An officer can file OVI/DUI charges against any individual who is “in control” of the vehicle. Under Ohio law, if he is in the driver’s seat and has the keys in place, he is in control of that vehicle and may face arrest for OVI/DUI.

Be polite, but don’t incriminate yourself

Whether you’ve been pulled over for speeding or leaving your lane, a police officer is trained to identify evidence of intoxication from the moment you approach your vehicle. After finding a safe place to stop, he stays in his car with his hands on the wheel. He is courteous and does not lie to the officer, however he may refuse to answer incriminating questions.

Any observations made by an officer, slurred speech, alcohol or drugs visible in the vehicle, lack of coordination, etc., will be used as probable cause for the officer to make an arrest for driving while intoxicated. Don’t add to that evidence by answering “how much has he drunk” with a “5 beers and 3 shots of tequila” answer. You have the right not to answer, and your OVI/DUI lawyer will appreciate it.

After an arrest, it is your lawyer’s job to review any evidence the officer collected to determine if the officer was justified in administering a field sobriety test and/or arresting you. Charges can be dismissed if this evidence does not hold up, but not if you incriminate yourself with your answers.

Breathalyzers and chemical tests

When pulled over for suspected drunk driving, the officer may ask you to take a breathalyzer or request a urine or blood test to determine if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He has the right to refuse, however, he will face an OVI/DUI arrest and automatically lose his license for a minimum of one year. This is described in Ohio’s implied consent law. However, it is to your advantage if he refuses to blow, which will make it more difficult for the officer to gather evidence against you.

Your rights after an arrest

Ohio law determines a driver is “under the influence” if they have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. However, an OVI charge is not limited to alcohol. Drug use, legal or otherwise, that impairs your ability to operate a vehicle may result in an OVI charge.

Your OVI/DUI defense begins as soon as you are pulled over. When arrested, he has the right to request an OVI/DUI attorney who can advise him of his options. In situations like this, you want an OVI/DUI attorney who is not only experienced in handling Ohio law, but is also available 24/7.

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