In some situations, your OVI attorney may be able to negotiate a "reduction" of an OVI offense. A "reduction" means that the prosecutor is willing to amend the OVI charge filed against you to something less serious than an OVI. Generally speaking, there are two types of reductions common in OVI cases: Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle and Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence. It is important to understand the difference between these offenses before you decide whether or not to accept such a plea agreement.
A Reckless Operation is a misdemeanor traffic offense that carries four (4) points against your Ohio Driver's License. Reckless Operation covers a whole host of traffic mishaps, from driving more than 20 miles over the speed limit to striking an inanimate object. What Reckless Operation is not associated with, is drugs or alcohol. There are no mandatory penalties associated with a Reckless Operation conviction. However, should your license be suspended by the court for a Reckless Operation conviction, the reinstatement fee which must be paid to the BMV at the conclusion of your suspension is $40.00.
Physical Control/Under the Influence is also a misdemeanor traffic offense, but because it is considered a non-moving offense, it carries zero (0) BMV points. "Physical control" is defined as being in the driver's position of the front seat of a vehicle and having possession of the vehicle's ignition key while under the influence alcohol or drugs, but not actually operating the vehicle. An example would be someone who leaves a party and decides to "sleep it off" in their car rather than actually driving anywhere. So, the offense is associated with the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs. There is no mandatory suspension associated with a Physical Control conviction. However, should the court decide to suspend your license as the result of a Physical Control conviction, the reinstatement fee is the same as that of an OVI suspension: $475.00.
There are benefits and draw-backs to entering a guilty plea to either one of these charges, but both carry far fewer penalties and stigma than having an OVI conviction on your record. If you find yourself in a situation where you may be able to take advantage of a reduction to your OVI charge, make sure you fully discuss your options with your attorney and understand which choice is right for you.
Jessica D'Varga is an Associate Attorney with The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc. and dedicates her practice to defending clients against OVI, criminal, and traffic charges.