Ohio’s New OVI Laws
Frequently Asked Questions And Answers About DUI Law In Ohio
- What can you tell me about Ohio’s new Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI) law?
- If I have been previously convicted of OVI and get arrested on a new OVI charge, how does the new law affect me?
- If I have one previous conviction for OVI and get convicted of a new OVI offense, how does the new law affect me?
- What if I have two prior convictions within the past six years?
- Is it true that, under the new law, I can be forced to give a blood sample if I’m arrested for OVI?
- Can I be convicted of OVI if I am not actually driving my car?
- Is it still legal to drink and drive?
- Can I predict my blood alcohol content (BAC) so that I can be sure of not getting picked up for OVI?
The new law, which goes into effect on September 30, 2008, is designed to “get tough” on OVI offenders who have been previously convicted of OVI. Other than increases in fines from $325 to $375 and driver’s license reinstatement fees from $425 to $475, the new law has no affect on first-time OVI offenders.
2. If I have been previously convicted of OVI and get arrested on a new OVI charge, how does the new law affect me?
If you have one previous conviction in the past six years and the results of a blood alcohol content (BAC) test are at or above the legal BAC limit, the time within which you will not be allowed to drive has been extended from 30 to 45 days. After that, limited driving privileges may be granted.
3. If I have one previous conviction for OVI and get convicted of a new OVI offense, how does the new law affect me?
If you have one prior OVI conviction within the past six years, you will have to complete a substance abuse assessment and follow all treatment recommendations.
After the new 45-day waiting period, limited driving privileges can be granted, but you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in the vehicle you drive.
You will not be allowed to consume beer and/or any intoxicating liquor and you may be required to wear a “secure continuous remote alcohol monitoring” (SCRAM) device.
If you are granted limited driving privileges, the vehicle you drive must be equipped with an ignition interlock device. You will be required to follow the recommendations of alcohol and drug addiction programs.
5. Is it true that, under the new law, I can be forced to give a blood sample if I’m arrested for OVI?
Yes. Actually, the law has allowed “forced blood draws” since 1986. The difference is that the law used to require a judge to sign a warrant authorizing a blood draw, using force if reasonably necessary. Under the new law, court intervention is not always necessary. If you have been convicted of two or more offenses within the past six years or five or more offenses within the past 20 years, or if you have been previously convicted of a felony, law enforcement can use whatever force is reasonably necessary to obtain a blood sample without first having to get approval from a judge.
If you are under the influence and the prosecution can prove that you “operated” your car and were not simply in “physical control” of your car, you can be convicted of OVI (Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated) even if you are not actually observed driving the car.
“Operation” includes causing or having caused a vehicle (such as a car, truck, RV, bicycle, motorcycle, or even a horse) to move. “Physical control” is defined as being in the driver’s position of the front seat of a vehicle while having possession of the ignition key. If the prosecution can prove that you were causing movement or had caused movement or of the vehicle while you were under the influence of alcohol or over the “legal limit,” you can be convicted of OVI. If movement of the vehicle cannot be proven, you cannot be convicted of OVI. However, if it can be proven that you were in the driver’s seat of a vehicle, in possession of the ignition key and either under the influence of alcohol or test over the legal limit, you can be convicted of being in “physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
While a “physical control” conviction is similar to an OVI conviction in that both are first degree misdemeanors, a physical control conviction does not carry minimum penalties. In fact, the court generally gives light penalties for physical control convictions due to the fact that you did not operate your vehicle and place others at risk. Also, whereas prior OVI convictions trigger enhanced minimum penalties for future OVI convictions, prior physical control convictions would not trigger those enhanced penalties for future OVI convictions. For example, if you are convicted of OVI and you have had a prior OVI conviction within the last six years, your minimum jail time will jump from three days to ten days. If you are convicted of OVI and have a prior physical control conviction, the minimum jail time is still only three days. Most importantly, being convicted of “physical control” does not carry the stigma of an OVI conviction.
It is illegal to consume alcohol while driving. However, current Ohio law says that, if you consume alcohol before driving and you are neither impaired nor at or above the “legal limit,” it is legal to drive in Ohio, even though it may not be advisable.
Some law enforcement agencies have developed “zero tolerance” policies against any amount of alcohol consumption before driving. However, Ohio law does not currently support such policies, and individuals have been successful in lawsuits against law enforcement agencies with “zero tolerance” policies due to unlawful arrests for OVI.
8. Can I predict my blood alcohol content (BAC) so that I can be sure of not getting picked up for OVI?
It is possible to estimate your BAC. However, because so many factors affect your BAC, an exact calculation is impossible. For example, you would have to consider your body weight, the amount of alcohol you consumed, and the length of time you were consuming alcohol.
While BAC calculators (graphs, charts, and the “drink wheel,” which can be found at www.intox.com) can provide a relatively accurate estimate of your BAC, you should not rely on a BAC calculator for legal purposes because there are many factors that the calculators do not take into consideration. These factors include the rate of absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, the distribution of alcohol throughout the body, the rate of elimination of alcohol from the body, body type (water, fat, and muscle content), the rate of consumption, the alcohol content of the drinks, food consumption, tolerance to alcohol and gender.
Also, you should not rely upon BAC calculators for legal purposes because they do not predict your level of impairment. In addition to the effects of alcohol, your impairment level can be affected by medication and fatigue. It is important to remember that you can still be convicted of OVI due to impairment regardless of your BAC.
Get Skilled DUI Representation From Attorneys Who Know The Law
If you’ve been charged with DUI or OVI, you need an attorney who understands the intricacies of Ohio law. The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc. has been recognized nationally and throughout Ohio for its skilled DUI representation. Contact us today to request a free consultation.