OVI - Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs

The various terms OVI, DUI, DWI, and OWI all mean the same thing.  Each describes a charge of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.  The accepted term in the State of Ohio is OVI.

At the beginning of an OVI case, things happen very quickly.  Several issues must be handled properly at your first court appearance in order to avoid future problems.  As appropriate, I will address all issues involving your driver's license, driving privileges, and release of your vehicle from impoundment.

As your case moves forward, I will then request and review with you the prosecutor's information, including the officer's paperwork and any audio or video tapes.  I will examine probable cause, use of (or failure to use) Miranda warnings (the right to remain silent), and scrutinize any field sobriety tests which may have been administered to you. 

Further, if you did take a blood, breath, or urine test, I will thoroughly examine any alleged test results.  I personally will visit the site where your test was administered and review all paperwork, administration procedures, repair records, and logs.  I will investigate the credentials and/or certifications of  any individuals involved in the testing process.  I will be also looking for instances where the Ohio Department of Health Regulations were not followed in the administration of your test.  Many times this "behind the scenes" thoroughness is what results in charges being dismissed or reduced to lesser offenses.

It is important to know and to remember that the OVI charges you may be facing today can also affect any future OVI charges you may incur.  Prior OVI convictions are used the "enhance" or increase the mandatory minimum sentence required to be imposed on any new OVI conviction(s.)  How your current case is being handled can have future consequences which you may not even be considering at this point. 

Therefore, it is extremely important that you engage highly competent, experienced counsel to represent you in your current case.  I have been handling OVI cases - both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney - for the past twenty years.  Each case is unique and deserves special attention.  Each of my clients receives my personal attention at all phases of his or her case.

There are many different types of OVI.  Through the years, the state legislature has changed the law to create more charges involving operation of a vehicle and the use of alcohol and/or drugs.  The first type is "OVI Impaired" which is the officer's opinion that one has operated a vehicle while under the influence. 

Next, is "OVI Per Se" which is charged when one takes a blood, breath or urine test after operating a vehicle and tests over the statutory "legal limit."  In Ohio, there are two "per se" levels - the actual per se result numbers are different for breath, blood and urine tests.  To simplify, since most tests taken in Ohio are breath tests, the two "per se" over-the-limit tiers for a breath test result are .080 and .170.  In testing at or over the .170 level, one is placed in a position of double the mandatory minimum penalties required for a "regular" OVI.  It is important to note just because one may test over the legal limit, this does not necessarily mean he or she is intoxicated.  It simply means that person has tested over the legal limit amount established by the state legislature.

The above are the three most common types of OVI.  In addition, there are now "per se" levels for drugs in one's system.  Again, not necessarily will one be under the influence of a drug at the time of giving a sample of blood or urine.  However, it is illegal to have a level higher than the "per se" amount of a particular drug in one's system.

There is also an OVI charge that deals with the situation where a person has a prior OVI conviction in the past 20 years and is stopped again and he or she refuses a blood, breath or urine test.  The act of the "refusal" can be charged as an offense in and of itself.  This offense also carries double the mandatory minimum penalties.

Further, a felony charge of OVI can be filed where a person has three prior OVI convictions in the past six years and is charged again.  A felony charge of OVI can also be filed where a person has five prior OVI convictions in the past twenty years and is charged again.

Each of these types of OVI carries mandatory minimum penalties which can include jail/prison time, driver's rights suspensions, impoundment or "clubbing" of a vehicle, special license plates or use of an interlock device as a condition of any driving privileges, alcohol and/or drug assessments and any recommended counseling, and probation.