Disposition / Defense Options

Ohio OVI Guide from The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc.

  1. Overview
  2. Through Dismissal
  3. Through Plea Bargain Agreement
  4. Through Trial

1. Overview

There are only three methods to resolve any traffic case: 1) Dismissal; 2) Plea Bargain Agreement; or 3) Trial. A good attorney should do everything possible to have your case dismissed, but this does not happen very often. If it is not dismissed, it is your right under Ohio and U.S. law that you decide whether or not to plead guilty or have a Trial. This is NOT an attorney decision. Your attorney should give you sufficient information for you to make an intelligent choice.

Statistically speaking, most cases are resolved by plea bargain agreement. About 1% are dismissed, and the remaining 8% go to trial. If you elect to plead guilty and enter a plea bargain agreement, you should thoroughly understand all terms and conditions of your agreement. In most OVI cases, whether or not convicted of OVI, probation is required. Standard special conditions of OVI probation include: 1) 72 hour Driver Intervention Program, 2) Driver's Rights Suspension, 3) Probation (Reporting or Non-Reporting), and 4) Fines and Costs. Please note clients with prior OVI history may face longer periods of suspension and/or the possibility of the red and yellow license plates.

If your case is resolved by a plea bargain agreement, you will be asked to formally waive or give up your right to a court or jury trial, to require the State to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, to confront your accusers, to compel witnesses to testify on your behalf, your right to remain silent and appellate review. After documents affecting this waiver are executed, you will appear before a judge to enter your plea. The judge must be sure you are waiving these rights knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently before your plea will be accepted. Once the agreement is accepted, you will be given specific provisions for your sentence and in all likelihood, meet with a probation officer to discuss exactly what is expected of you during your probationary period.

If you are found guilty, a record of your conviction will be made and forwarded to the BMV. The BMV will maintain a record of your conviction. This is a permanent record that cannot be erased/expunged unless pardoned by the Governor of Ohio or the President of the United States. This conviction can be resurrected and used against you should you ever be charged or suspected of criminal activity in the future.

2. Dismissal

As indicated, dismissals of OVI charges are rare. Less than 1% of OVI cases are dismissed outright. A dismissal is the ultimate goal in every case but it is very difficult to achieve. There are a number of ways to obtain a dismissal of an OVI case. The primary reason for dismissal of OVI cases are due to procedural errors in the legal process. Your attorney should review all procedures in the case to determine if your case can be disposed of by dismissal based upon "technical grounds." "Technical grounds" usually involve a violation of a Constitutional right or a failure of law enforcement to follow a mandatory procedure.

Another basis for a dismissal is facts that are exceptionally in favor of the defense. Such facts may involve an illness or medical condition which gives the appearance of impairment when the individual is not really impaired. Dismissals based upon factual scenarios are rare but do occur.

3. Plea Bargain

There are three major elements of your OVI case: 1) your side, 2) the police version, and 3) videotapes. If you took a chemical test, there is a fourth element: the administrative procedures used to obtain a BAC result and the maintenance history of the machine used in your case. Once all information is received, we review the elements to determine what type of "picture" your OVI case presents. Every aspect of your case will be reviewed. If there is a mistake, we will find it.

We also meet with the Prosecutor assigned to your case to learn the officer's version of your case. We gather all facts supporting your initial traffic stop, field sobriety testing, testing conditions, interrogation, and videotaping. We will review our findings with you.

We are required to discuss a plea bargain disposition of your case to you. This is done as an "insurance policy" on your case. Usually, whatever we negotiate will be the worst possible outcome of your case and will only get better as your case proceeds through the system.

If available, we retrieve all videos of your stop, arrest and processing. We will obtain copies of any and all videos taken of you during your stop, arrest and processing, and give you the opportunity to review those videos.

After all of your information has been gathered, we will meet again to review the evidence and discuss the options available for disposition of your case. We will review all reports, videotapes and negotiations with the Prosecutor. In this meeting, we can tell you what to expect if you enter a plea bargain agreement and your chances of winning if you elect to go to trial.

If you elect to "plea bargain" your case, we will appear with you in Court before the judge. At that hearing, we will continue to negotiate your punishment in any way we can. We will appear before the judge and again try to obtain any further concessions possible. Our office will remain available throughout your probationary period to assist you in successfully completing all conditions of your probation.

4. Trial

Not all clients require or want to go to trial. Preparing for and presenting a full trial on the merits takes considerable time and effort that is not required with any other type of representation.

There are many trials set on the same date. On the court date, the court will select which case will go to trial. The others will be rescheduled. We must be prepared for each trial date. A typical trial will last 1-3 days. This time may vary depending on your facts and the court. While we are in court, we have no other clients. We will be with you from beginning to end. This helps many clients, as trials are an anxious time if you have never been through one before.

Trial skills are learned through experience and training. All attorneys associated with The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc. are "trial lawyers." They have been specifically selected for their above-average performance in the courtroom.

Approximately only 8% of cases are ultimately disposed of by a trial. Good criminal defense lawyers are "constitutional watchdogs." As such "Not Guilty" has two meanings: 1) you are innocent of the accusation or 2) there is insufficient proof to establish your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Again, it is YOUR DECISION whether or not your case goes to trial. If you select a trial or are even considering one, you should be sure that the attorney you hire has trial experience in OVI cases. Trial skills can be learned, but experience is the best teacher.

You should evaluate all of the good and bad facts of your case. Your attorney should provide you with insight as to how your facts will appear in Trial and what he believes a jury will do with those facts.

It is important to note that in most cases, the punishment is not increased if you are found guilty after a Trial. Although it occasionally happens, it is against the law for a Judge to punish someone for exercising their right to have a Trial.