Going Through the Legal System

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

  1. Arraignment
  2. Limited Driving Privileges
  3. Pre-Trial
  4. Motion Hearing
  5. Trial
  6. Continuances
  7. Obtaining Identification Card During Pendency of Case

1. Arraignment

The first court hearing is called the initial appearance, or arraignment. This is when you appear before the court to enter a plea of no contest, guilty or not guilty and appeal your administrative license suspension. Since we will be fighting the case, a "not guilty" plea will be entered. We will also file "motions" and other important "pleadings" in your case. Some courts and/or judges allow the attorney to appear on your behalf, while others require the appearance of the client as well. Please check with us prior to your arraignment date to see if your appearance is required. If your appearance is required, failure to be in court can result in forfeiture of your bond and license suspension for failure to appear. Whenever possible, we will appear without you in order to not inconvenience you and to relieve some of the stress that you may have about your case.

Also at the arraignment, we may file motions seeking some type of "relief" related to the case. Motions, simply put, are requests to grant some type of "relief". This "relief" is usually asking that an administrative license suspension be terminated or stayed (placed on hold) or that some part of the State's evidence be excluded when the case goes to trial. We may seek to exclude a breath, blood or urine test result, field evaluations or a custodial statement made by you after your detention, but before any Miranda advisements were given to you (e.g., "You have the right to an attorney; you have the right to remain silent...").

In addition, we will make a request for the Prosecutor to give us the "discovery" in your case. Discovery is a generic term that relates to production of evidence that the state intends to present against you in court. An example of "discovery" is a list of the State's witnesses against you as well as information on how to locate them. We will also make a request to the court to preserve any audio or video recordings that may have been made in your case. Obtaining discovery allows us to be as fully prepared as possible when we enter court so that there will be no surprises. We will send you a copy of all motions and discovery once it has been filed and received by our office.

2. Limited Driving Privileges

About 95% of all DUI arrests will involve an administrative license suspension (ALS). You must appeal this suspension within thirty (30) days of the date of your initial appearance/arraignment. This is normally done at your initial appearance/ arraignment. In the event your license is suspended, and you do not have a prior history of license suspensions, the judge may grant you "Limited Driving Privileges" to allow you to drive during your suspension period. These privileges are usually restricted to driving to and from work and any work-related travel during your work hours. Limited driving privileges may also be granted for education and medical purposes. Some courts consider a homemaker's obligations as employment.

If granted, you will be required to carry a certified copy of the Entry Granting Limited Driving Privileges with you when you drive. This will allow any officer who may stop you to determine whether you are within your stated restrictions when you drive. You may also be required to carry a log of your travels.

3. Pre-Trial

Approximately 2 to 4 weeks following the arraignment, a Pre-Trial Hearing or Conference will be held. A Pre-Trial is the court appearance prior to the Motion Hearing and Trial and is an opportunity for us to speak directly with the prosecutor handling your case. This is an opportunity to provide the prosecutor with our arguments and determine the extent of the State's evidence. At this point in the proceedings, we will attempt to review the videotape (if available) of your stop and arrest.

4. Motion Hearing

Following the Pre-Trial, we will request a Motion Hearing. This is a very important step as it sometimes allows us to attack various aspects of the State's case prior to trial. The elimination of harmful evidence is the primary purpose and goal of "motions". There will be no jury involved at a motion hearing. Present at a typical motion hearing will be the judge, the prosecutor, the State's witness (the arresting officer(s)) you and your attorney. Some cases require additional witnesses. The judge will hear motions and argument from both sides, then grant or deny the motions.

5. Trial

Next is the Trial. This may be a Jury Trial (an eight person jury is used in misdemeanor cases) or a Court trial (heard only by the judge).

As the time for trial draws closer, we will be coordinating witnesses and subpoenas. We may need your assistance in providing the necessary information on witnesses to assure that this is done timely and correctly. It is critical that you stay in touch with your fact witnesses, since we will need to be able to reach them and provide them with a subpoena to secure their appearance.

6. Continuances

One thing that you must understand is the likelihood or probability of a continuance (rescheduling) of court dates. Court dates are subject to change at the last moment. Please make sure that we know where to reach you at all times. Conflicts between cases invariably occur for a variety of reasons. For example, it is not unusual for many jury trials to be set for the same date. In these instances, court rules require that the older case must be heard first.

Going to court is not like going to the doctor. We cannot make an appointment. We go when we are told to appear. If you see that you are going to have a job-threating or life-threatening conflict, please let us know immediately.

The majority of OVI cases take approximately 4 to 6 months to resolve.

7. Obtaining Identification Card During Pendency of Case

Our advice to Ohio residents is to obtain a TEMPORARY STATE IDENTIFICATION CARD for use until you can obtain a new driver's license. These may be obtained at any registrars' office. State regulations limit such identification cards to Ohio residents. Remember, this is not a license to drive and you must keep your Entry Granting Driving Privileges with you when driving. [Non-resident drivers licensed by another State should explore whether you can procure a replacement license or similar ID card in your State without running afoul of your State's law]. Do not obtain a Permanent State Identification Card. Doing so will cancel your Ohio driver's license.

Please don't risk another possible arrest for OVI while this case is pending. Our office has represented many clients charged with a second OVI while the first was pending. This makes your case much more difficult to handle and a favorable outcome less likely.