Basic Classifications Of Ohio Drunk Driving Violations

Most drivers understand the basic criminal consequences for what is commonly referred to as "drunk driving." Many people know that an arrest and OVI conviction can lead to loss of a drivers license, spending a night or two in jail and paying higher insurance rates in the future, but few people realize the complexity of drunk driving charges.

In Ohio, the legal standards for intoxicated driving are complex and ever-evolving. The degree of punishment faced by a driver depends on a wide range of circumstances. Every driver should take the opportunity to understand the three basic forms of OVI in Ohio:

  • Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs: applies to drivers who are legally impaired as determined by law enforcement officer's observations during field sobriety tests and other evidence
  • Driving with a prohibited level of alcohol or drugs (Ohio's per se charge): applies to drivers who are over the legal limit based on blood-alcohol concentrations or drug metabolite levels using breath, blood or urine tests
  • Being in physical control of a vehicle while impaired: imposes criminal liability on individuals who are not driving but are determined to be under the influence while inside a parked vehicle and in possession of keys

A variety of other factors are relevant in Ohio OVI cases, including an individual's willingness or ability to submit to a Breathalyzer test, enhanced mandatory minimum penalties for drivers who have a higher level of intoxication, and whether the individual has previously been convicted of an OVI or a related offense.

It is critical to determine whether law enforcement has properly charged a drunk driving offense. Occasionally, officers fail to properly administer standardized field sobriety tests. In some cases, lab technicians improperly analyze urine or blood samples. Breath testing machines frequently provide officers with erroneous readings or inconsistent results.

An Ohio OVI lawyer can explain the many details that drivers should consider in the aftermath of a DUI/DWI/OVI arrest. Criminal defense attorneys also help clients understand an equally important legal factor: their legal rights against unreasonable search and seizure, their due process rights and the importance of close scrutiny of every aspect of the arrest record.