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Defense Attorneys Who Helped Shape Ohio OVI Law

The state of Ohio treats drunk driving very seriously. The potential penalties for an OVI conviction are severe. It is important to work with an attorney who can effectively handle your case. Experience and a history of success are requirements if you want a defense attorney who can protect you.

At Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima, our criminal defense lawyers not only understand Ohio OVI law, but we also helped shape it. With more than 200 years of combined experience, we have litigated many OVI cases before the Ohio Supreme Court, creating precedent that affects drunk driving cases throughout the state.

Learn from our new White Papers: Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol and A Quick Guide To Regaining Your Driver’s License After a DUI Arrest

Your Life, Your Priorities

We are a family-oriented southwestern Ohio law firm with lawyers who will listen to learn what is most at stake in your situation. Whether it is your job, family life or community reputation, what is important to you is important to us. We will do everything in our power to get you the best possible outcome so you can move forward with your life. Here is what former clients have to say about us:

“Charlie Rittgers and his entire staff provided nothing but excellence. His caring and kind demeanor helped my son through a difficult time. He made him feel very comfortable and at ease. We consider Charlie to not only be a fabulous, excellent attorney, but a friend as well. Thank you again.” – Sue M.

For a consultation with an OVI defense attorney at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima, call 513-496-0134 or contact us online. We are available 24/7 and represent clients primarily in Warren, Butler, Hamilton and Clermont counties.

Breathalyzer Tests, Blood Tests And Urine Samples

Most people understand that they will be charged with OVI if they blow a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. However, you can also get charged with an OVI if you are found to have exceeded the following through tests other than the breathalyzer:

  • .11 of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per 100 milliliters of urine
  • .08 of one percent or more by weight of alcohol in the person’s blood

It is important to note that you can be charged with OVI while simply impaired with alcohol (which could occur even if you are not over the legal limit) or impaired with or over the legal limit for drugs.

Mandatory Minimum Jail Sentences And Other Penalties

A conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OVI) carries with it criminal punishment and many collateral consequences. Formerly known as DUI, or driving under the influence, a conviction for OVI brings with it:

  • Mandatory minimum jail sentences
  • Expensive fines
  • A driver’s license suspension
  • Treatment classes
  • Points on your license
  • Probation

Mandatory minimum penalties become more severe if it is a second or subsequent OVI offense, if you have a BAC of .17 or higher, or if you refused a breath alcohol test.

If you have been charged with OVI, take immediate steps to begin protecting your rights. We are ready to put our attorneys’ more than 200 years of combined experience to work for you. With a strong history of success in OVI cases, and a founding member of the National DUI College who is trained in field sobriety testing, our team has what it takes to create a thorough defense in your case.

We will put forth an aggressive defense aimed at challenging the breathalyzer, any field sobriety tests, and any other evidence the prosecution may have against you. In many cases, we request a suppression hearing in an attempt to have illegally or erroneously obtained evidence thrown out. Even if the suppression hearing is unsuccessful, it helps us prepare the case for trial and often helps us minimize the consequences you are facing. We will do everything we can to minimize the consequences you are facing.

Defending Your Rights When Charged With DUI

A charge for driving under the influence (DUI) in Ohio carries with it criminal and administrative consequences. Not only are you looking at a conviction that will affect your record, you are also looking at losing your driving privileges temporarily. These consequences can impact your future, making it difficult for you to maintain or obtain quality employment, housing and affordable automobile insurance.

Whether this is your first offense or your third, you need to take these charges seriously.  Because of our history of success with DUI cases, you can trust us to put extensive experience and knowledge to work in creating a strong defense against your drunk driving charges.

Protecting Your Driving Privileges

You have a short amount of time in which to request a hearing to protect your driving privileges. These administrative license suspension or revocation hearings take place within 30 days of a DUI arrest. By calling our law firm as soon as you have been arrested or charged, we can take immediate steps to help you either keep your driver’s license or obtain limited driving privileges that will enable you to drive to and from work, medical appointments, and court appearances.

Aggressive Defense For Repeat OVI Offenders

With multiple convictions for OVI, the penalties only become more severe. If you have been charged with OVI as a second- or third-time offender, it is important to work with an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to effectively handle your case. Our lawyers provide aggressive criminal defense representation for people charged with a repeat drunk driving offense.

One of our founding attorneys, Charles Rittgers, was also a founding member of the National DUI College. For more than 30 years, he has been protecting the rights and interests of people accused of drunk driving. He has extensive experience handling cases for both first-time and repeat OVI offenders. Relying on his experience and that of our other attorneys, we are able to thoroughly investigate claims and effectively evaluate cases involving repeat OVI offenses. Based upon the particular circumstances involved, we craft defense strategies tailored to minimize the long-term consequences of any allegations.

Prior convictions will limit your options. With a second OVI conviction in 10 years, you will likely face increased fines, mandatory treatment, a longer license suspension period, immobilization of your vehicle and restricted license plates. With a third offense in the same time period, you may face all these consequences, plus forfeiture of your vehicle or mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.

Aggressive Attorneys Working To Minimize OVI Penalties

The specific penalties imposed following an OVI conviction depend largely upon the surrounding circumstances and the actual offense. All other things being equal, a high-tier OVI (with a BAC level of .17 or above) will result in harsher penalties than a simple OVI. A person convicted of multiple OVIs will receive more severe penalties than a first-time offender.

However, all other things are rarely equal, and it is important to have a strong advocate on your side.

We can help you understand the potential penalties of an OVI conviction, including:

  • Criminal penalties: The potential criminal penalties depend entirely upon the circumstances of the OVI conviction, and the particular charge. Criminal penalties may include extensive fees, required classroom training, the installation of an ignition interlock device, and possible jail time.
  • Loss of driving privileges: Regardless whether you are ultimately convicted of OVI, the charges alone can result in a loss of driving privileges. If you are charged with OV and either test over the legal limit or refuse to take a breathalyzer, you will automatically lose your license. Our attorneys represent people in administrative license suspension hearings, working to reinstate driving privileges.
  • Employment consequences: If your job relies on your ability to drive, an OVI or DUI conviction puts your employment at risk. For example, someone with a commercial driver’s license will be unable to drive a commercial vehicle while their license is suspended. Even if you don’t drive a commercial vehicle, a license suspension may limit your ability to get to and from work, or to travel as necessary for your job.
  • Insurance costs: With an OVI conviction, your insurance rates are likely to soar. Over time, this increase can cost thousands of dollars. To avoid the increased insurance rates, you must avoid the conviction.

When you consider the penalties of an OVI or DUI, the costs are simply too high to take any chances. We are very familiar with the laws governing drunk driving, and we understand how to effectively defend against these charges.

A History Of Success In Drunk Driving Litigation

Our drunk driving defense attorneys are at the forefront of the field — handling allegations of OVI, DUI and DWI. We have argued many cases affecting OVI law before the Ohio Supreme Court. Here are several of our cases that have changed Ohio OVI law:

State v. Shindler (1994)

Charles H. Rittgers, amicus curiae

Holding: A highly detailed pleading of facts and law is not required to trigger the right to a motion to suppress in an OVI case. Further, the burden rests with the state to show substantial compliance with regulations once the defendant files a motion (even if “boilerplate”) to suppress.

The law created in Shindler was upheld recently by State v. Codeluppi. Over the years, courts have lessened the burden on the state required by Shindler. Within the past year in Codeluppi, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the law in Shindler and discussed it at length in the 2014 decision.

For full court opinion of State v. Shindler, click here (PDF). 

State v. Hochhausler (1996)

In this case, Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima successfully argued that the “no stay” provision in the administrative license suspension statute was unconstitutional.

This provision explicitly prevented judges from suspending mandatory license suspensions after a person is accused of OVI. The court agreed that taking the discretion away from judges was unconstitutional as it was a violation of the separation of powers. Further, we successfully argued that third parties (not defendants) who were full or partial owners of vehicles that were seized by the state as a result of an OVI arrest had an interest in the vehicle and were entitled to a hearing and could fight to get the vehicle returned.

For full court opinion of State v. Hochhausler, click here (PDF).

State v. Mayl (2005)

Charles H. Rittgers and Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima arguing affirmance on behalf of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, amicus curiae

Holding: The state is required to show substantial compliance with blood test regulations even when the blood test was not made at the request of law enforcement (i.e., the hospital drew blood). Further, the state must show substantial compliance even when the blood test was performed by an accredited laboratory and for purposes of medical treatment. In essence, the state was trying to lower its burden because the defendant’s blood was drawn at a hospital for medical purposes. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed with our argument and held otherwise.

For full court opinion of State v. Mayl, click here (PDF). 

In addition to helping create OVI law, we closely follow the outcomes of all drunk driving cases throughout Ohio to leverage new developments in favor of our clients. Here are some of the Ohio Supreme Court cases that may impact our clients accused of drunk driving:

Cincinnati v. Ilg (2014)

Ilg was charged in Cincinnati, Ohio, with an OVI after testing above the legal limit on an Intoxilyzer 8000 breath testing machine. Ilg sought COBRA data from the Intoxilyzer 8000 machine that was used to test his breath in order to challenge the machine in court..

The state refused to provide the COBRA data citing various reasons. The trial court in Hamilton County Ohio excluded the breath test results as a result of the state’s refusal to provide the data the defendant requested. The case reached the Ohio Supreme Court, which ruled that the exclusion of the evidence was proper.

Holding: A defendant in an OVI case can challenge the accuracy, competence, admissibility, relevance, authenticity, and credibility of a specific test result or whether the specific machine used to test the defendant operated properly at the time of arrest. The ruling clarified the ruling in the 1984 case of State v. Vega in which the court held that a defendant was precluded from challenging the general reliability of breath testing devices if they had been approved by the director of the Ohio Department of Health.

For full court opinion of Cincinnati v. Ilg, click here (PDF). 

State v. Codeluppi (2014)

Codeluppi was charged with OVI and speeding. She filed a motion to suppress the police report evidence on three sobriety tests. The police report was the only source of evidence and did not describe the directions and procedure of the sobriety tests.

Holding: The results of the field sobriety tests are not admissible at trial unless the state shows by clear and convincing evidence that the officer administered the test in substantial compliance with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines and the burden laid out in State v. Shindler (a Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima case discussed above).

For full court opinion of State v. Codeluppi, click here (PDF).

Building Excellent Strategies In A Variety Of OVI Situations

The lawyers at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima defend drunk driving cases involving:

In addition to handling criminal charges, we represent people accused of OVI in administrative license suspension hearings.

Contact Our Ohio Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys

Before beginning our criminal defense practice, Charles H. Rittgers worked in the Warren County prosecutor’s office. In this role, he prosecuted people accused of OVI and other offenses. After entering private practice and fighting for clients who had been accused of OVI, Mr. Rittgers became a founding member of the National College of DUI Defense.

Contact our OVI defense attorneys online or call us at 513-496-0134 to schedule an initial consultation. Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima has offices in Lebanon, West Chester, and Cincinnati. We are ready to put our knowledge and experience to work for you.

Client Review: 5/5 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

“Steve Kilburn had all the answers I needed when it came to my OVI charge. He’s very knowledgeable and quick to respond to any questions. He did a great job and I was more than happy with the outcome. I highly recommend Mr. Kilburn if you’re looking for an OVI attorney.” – James Peyton

Related Result

Bartender Charged with DUI (M1). Faced Mandatory License Suspension, Jail: Our client was driving home from work when she was pulled over for not having a front license plate. The officer claimed to observe 6 out of 6 clues on the HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus) test, claimed a strong odor of alcoholic beverage, and blood shot eyes. Our client refused all other standardized field sobriety tests as well as the breath test. Following a trial, our client was found NOT GUILTY.

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