Posted on Wednesday, November 15th, 2023 at 9:00 am
Facing DUI charges, which are called OVI (operating a vehicle impaired) charges in Ohio, can feel overwhelming. Considering the abundance of messaging against driving while intoxicated, you may fear that a conviction will result in severe consequences. In fact, penalties for a DUI/OVI in Ohio are stricter than in other states. Convictions result in mandatory jail time, lengthy license suspensions, and hefty fines, among other consequences. With so much on the line, you need an experienced Ohio OVI defense attorney working for you if you wish to avoid the harshest consequences.
Should I Plead Guilty to a First-Time DUI/OVI Offense?
Many people who are facing OVI charges for the first time believe that their fate is sealed. As such, they may consider pleading guilty and accepting the consequences. However, while the judge may or may not show leniency in such a situation, even the mildest consequences of an OVI conviction have the potential to profoundly disrupt your freedom, your ability to drive, and your reputation. Hiring an attorney and pleading not guilty can give you a chance to avoid these strict penalties.
What Are the Penalties for a First-Time DUI/OVI in Ohio?
Ohio law categorizes an OVI as a first-degree misdemeanor. However, the sentencing for this offense is unique when compared to other first-degree misdemeanors. Penalties include:
- A minimum of three days and a maximum of 180 days in jail (or, possibly, completion of a driver intervention program)
- A minimum of one year and a maximum of three years suspension of your driver’s license
- A minimum $375 and a maximum $1,075 fine
- Six points on your driver’s license
Other possible penalties include:
- Installment of an ignition interlock device
- Secure remote alcohol monitoring (SCRAM)
- Yellow license plates on your vehicle
- Community control (probation)
Yellow License Plates in Ohio
If convicted of an OVI in Ohio, you may be required to have restricted yellow license plates on your vehicle. These plates clearly identify you as someone with an OVI conviction. Not only is this embarrassing, but it also makes you a target for police profiling. A law enforcement officer who sees the yellow plates may pull you over on the slightest suspicion of impaired driving. With an aggressive defense from an experienced DUI lawyer, you may be able to keep yellow plates from becoming a visible mark against you.
Should I Get a Lawyer for My First DUI/OVI?
Though you may think there is no point in hiring a lawyer for a straightforward first offense, having legal representation can make a considerable difference. A knowledgeable attorney understands DUI/OVI laws and proceedings and can identify defenses and weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. They will thoroughly examine all evidence and look for mistakes or lack of probable cause in your traffic stop and arrest. Your lawyer can also negotiate plea deals or alternative sentences that minimize penalties. With so much at stake, hiring a lawyer is wise, even for first offenses.
How Can a Lawyer Help with a First Offense DUI/OVI?
An experienced DUI/OVI lawyer can help in several key ways:
- Reviewing your case for defenses – Your attorney may find ways to get evidence suppressed or charges reduced or dismissed.
- Negotiating with the prosecution – Lawyers use their relationships with prosecutors to secure plea deals for lesser charges.
- Guiding you through proceedings – A legal professional can handle communications with the court and ensure you take the proper steps throughout the legal process.
- Advocating for you during sentencing – Attorneys can present mitigating circumstances to persuade the judge to minimize penalties.
- Protecting your rights – Lawyers ensure that proper procedures are followed and that your legal rights are upheld throughout the process.
Because an OVI conviction has severe consequences, an attorney’s assistance can be invaluable for first offenses. Don’t go it alone against the complex legal system.
Contact an Ohio OVI Attorney Today
If you are facing OVI charges in Cincinnati, you may be going through one of the most stressful moments in your life. The experienced Ohio DUI defense attorneys at Moermond & Mulligan, LLC understand the challenges you are facing. Our seasoned legal team has handled many cases like yours before, and we are ready to craft a compelling defense to have the charges reduced or dropped or to secure an acquittal.
With over 50 years of combined legal experience, we can draw on our past successes to optimize your chances of a favorable result. Call our Cincinnati law firm today at (513) 421-9790 for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.