Posted on Friday, December 1st, 2023 at 9:00 am
An OVI, or “operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” is a charge unique to the state of Ohio. Ohio uses OVI rather than DUI in its drunk driving laws. Although “DUI” may be casually used due to its universality, it does not appear in Ohio laws. Instead, OVI (operating under the influence) replaced the term DUI to capture all driving offenses involving alcohol, drugs, or a combination of these substances.
What Is a DUI?
DUI means “driving under the influence .” However, in the context of OVI vs DUI, it means the same thing as OVI in Ohio, which is the official term for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or driving while intoxicated.
What Is an OVI?
An OVI charge means the same as being charged with a DUI, DWI, or OMVI, as it encompasses all circumstances of operating a vehicle while impaired. Police can arrest a person for an OVI if they drive while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. Simply put, if the police catch you driving impaired, you could face OVI charges.
Are Charges for a DUI/OVI Different?
Since DUI and OVI are two terms for the same offense, the charges for both are the same. However, the charges you could face for DUI/OVI in Ohio vary depending on your level of intoxication and the number of offenses you have.
A first OVI offense is typically a first-degree misdemeanor, which occurs if the individual operates a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination thereof and their blood alcohol content BAC is over .08%. It involves mandatory penalties, including:
- Three consecutive days in jail
- Fines up to $1,075
- License suspension of up to three years
The penalties are more severe if the person’s BAC is .17% or higher. Specifically, the penalties increase with the number of offenses:
- First aggravated offense – The offender must spend three days in jail and complete three days of a driver’s intervention program.
- Second aggravated offense – This offense carries a penalty of twenty days in jail. Alternatively, it can be ten days in jail plus thirty-six days on house arrest with alcohol monitoring.
- Third aggravated offense – If convicted of a third aggravated offense, the driver must serve either sixty days in jail or thirty days in jail plus an additional 110 days of house arrest with alcohol monitoring.
Certain circumstances, such as having three or more prior offenses and causing injuries or death, will elevate a misdemeanor OVI charge to a felony. For instance, an offender with three or more convictions within ten years will be charged with a fourth-degree felony for any additional offense. This results in increased jail time and higher fines. Once convicted of one felony OVI, any subsequent convictions will also be classified as felonies.
A DUI resulting in serious injuries to another person is classified as aggravated vehicular assault. This offense carries penalties of twelve to sixty months in jail and fines up to $10,000. If you cause another person’s death, you may face a conviction for aggravated vehicular homicide. This conviction carries a minimum of two years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
Beating an OVI/DUI in Ohio
Ohio courts take OVI charges very seriously. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can assist you in beating the charges. Your lawyer will meticulously assess the circumstances of your arrest to determine if there are any viable defenses. These defenses could lead to the dismissal or reduction of your OVI charges.
Some possible defenses to OVI charges include:
- Unlawful search and seizure – Your attorney may argue that the police made your arrest after an unreasonable search and seizure. This could occur if there was no probable cause to stop you, in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.
- Issues of fact – Your attorney may identify discrepancies in the factual accounts of the incident. These could arise from differences in your recollection, the police officer’s statement, or witness testimony.
- Improper testing – If there were any procedural issues with your field sobriety test, your lawyer may argue the test is inadmissible.
Contact Our OVI/DUI Defense Lawyers in Cincinnati If You’ve Been Charged with an OVI/DUI
If you have been charged with DUI/OVI in Ohio, you need an experienced and aggressive OVI/DUI attorney from the law firm of Moermond & Mulligan, LLC. Our team understands the legal process may be unfamiliar and intimidating. We can help you every step of the way. Call us today at (513) 421-9790 or contact us online for a free consultation.