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What is the difference between a DUI and an OVI?

You hear a lot of phrases used to describe drunk driving violations. While driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are quite common in many states, Ohio uses the phrase operating a vehicle impaired (OVI). The Ohio State Bar Association explains the reasoning behind this, as well as other facets of OVI law and arrests.

In 1982, lawmakers decided to categorize drunk driving violations as operating a motor vehicle impaired (OMVI). In recent years the wording was changed once again to include more conveyances than just motorized ones. For instance, a person riding a bicycle while intoxicated could be cited under the new law.

When a driver is pulled over under suspicion of inebriation, blood or breath testing usually occurs. Results reading .08 or higher breach the legal limit. Other tests also entail additional limits, which when breached will result in an arrest of the driver. When it comes to urine testing, alcohol concentration can’t be .11 or higher. Further penalties may be assessed when alcohol content in excess of these legal limits. For instance, high tier test results entail minimum jail time and other punishments. As an example, blood test results greater than .204 are considered high tier.

Refusal of breath or blood testing may still result in a conviction. This is because you could be convicted of an OVI simply based on your behavior. The results of a field sobriety test could be presented to the judge or the officer may cite erratic driving or the smell of alcohol in your vehicle. Additionally, once arrested you must submit to breath or blood testing according to Ohio law. 

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