What used to be known as DUI charges in the state of Ohio is now referred to as an OVI, or operating a vehicle impaired. What many people do not know about OVI/DUI charges is that the law is not limited to individuals driving a traditional vehicle, like a car or truck. An officer can charge you with drunk driving if you are driving a golf cart, ATV, lawnmower or even riding a bicycle.
If you think you can avoid an OVI/DUI arrest by sleeping it off in the car before heading home, you would be wrong. An officer can pursue OVI/DUI charges against any individual who is “in control” of the vehicle. Under Ohio law, if you are in the driver’s seat and have the keys in your position, you are in control of that vehicle and can face an OVI/ DUI arrest.
Be polite, but don’t incriminate yourself
Whether you were pulled over for speeding or weaving out of your lane, a police officer is trained to identify evidence of intoxication from the moment they approach your vehicle. After finding a safe place to pull over, remain in your car with your hands on the steering wheel. Be polite and do not lie to the officer, however, you can decline to answer incriminating questions.
Any observation that an officer makes, slurred speech, alcohol or drugs that are visible in the vehicle, lack of coordination, etc., will be used as probable cause to justify the officer making an arrest for operating a vehicle impaired. Don’t add to that evidence by answering “how much have you had to drink” with a response of “5 beers and 3 shots of tequila.” You have the right not to answer, and your OVI/DUI attorney will thank you.
After an arrest, it is your attorney’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 thrown out if this evidence does not hold up, but not if you incriminate yourself with your responses.
Breathalyzers and chemical tests
When you are detained for suspicion of drunk driving, the officer may ask you to submit to a breathalyzer or request a urine or blood test to determine if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You do have right to refuse, however you will face an OVI/DUI arrest and will automatically lose your license for a minimum of one year. This is outlined in Ohio’s implied consent law. Nevertheless, it is advantageous if you refuse to blow, which will make it harder for the officer to compile evidence against you.
Your rights after an arrest
Ohio law finds a driver to be “under the influence” if there is a blood alcohol level of.08 or higher. An OVI charge is not limited to alcohol, however. The use of drugs, legal or otherwise, that impair your ability to operate a vehicle can lead to an OVI charge.
Your OVI/DUI defense begins as soon as you are pulled over. When you are arrested, you have the right to request an OVI/DUI lawyer who can advise you of your options. In situations like this, you want an OVI/DUI lawyer who is not only experienced in dealing with Ohio laws, but is also available 24/7.