It is illegal in the state of Ohio to operate a motorized vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. Ohio uses the term OVI or Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated. Other common terms which mean the same thing are DUI or driving under the influence or OMVI or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. These terms are used interchangeably but each of them can result in a charge of a first degree misdemeanor. Drivers who can be charged with an OVI while operating a variety of vehicles including boats, motorcycles, cars, streetcars and trackless trolleys.
Arrested for drunk driving but not driving
Some drivers are also surprised when they are arrested for drunk driving because they were not actually driving a car. Some drivers assume that if they pull to the side of the road or fall asleep in the parking lot they will not be arrested for drunk driving.
Unfortunately, although this may seem like a good idea, it is possible to be arrested even if you are not driving if you have actual physical control of the car which may be proven if you have the keys in the ignition, in your pocket, on the dashboard or near you.
In 2005, Ohio instituted physical control laws (under Ohio’s Physical Control Statute, O.R.C. 4511.194). Physical Control is similar to an Ohio OVI but does not require that the vehicle have ever been driven or even started. It only requires that one be “in the driver’s position … having possession of the ignition key or other ignition device.” Keep in mind, however, a Physical Control charge is not considered an OVI conviction and does not constitute a “prior” OVI conviction.
Administrative Penalties in Ohio for drunk driving
If you have been arrested for OVI you may face criminal and civil OVI penalties. Under Ohio’s per se violation laws you may have your license suspended through an administrative license suspension if you are arrested for OVI and you either refuse to take a chemical blood alcohol concentration test or you take the test and your blood alcohol concentration is above the illegal limit of 0.08% or higher.
Penalties for OVI in Ohio
We recently had a question on our DUI forum from a driver who was concerned about what would happen if he had been arrested for his second OVI. The driver mentioned that his first OVI arrest was in 2003 and his most recent OVI arrest was in 2012. Ohio’s look back or “wash out” period is six years (there is an exception if the person has 1 prior felony, 3 prior OVI convictions w/in 6 years or 5 prior OVI convictions in 20 years). If this is the case the OVI charge could rise to a felony charge.
So what does this mean? If you have been arrested for OVI and it is your first offense within six years, you will face a jail term of three to six months in jail, fines of $250 to $1,000 and a license suspension of 180 days to 3 years. Because this driver’s previous OVI charge was more than six years ago the court will not consider the previous charge to enhance the OVI penalties.
Hiring an OVI lawyer in Ohio
Ohio’s VI laws are complicated and due to the constant updates of the law the information provided above is general in nature only. Talk to an Ohio OVI attorney for more information about your specific case.