Columbus Ohio DUI Defense Attorney
Call 24 Hours A Day 614.309.0243
511 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
As a Columbus, Ohio DUI Defense Attorney, this is a common question. The acronym OVI used by Columbus Police and many other departments on a drunk driving ticket is the abbreviation for Operating a Vehicle Impaired. Ohio’s General Assembly amended the Ohio drunk driving / DUI statute to broaden the offense from driving under the influence (DUI) to operating a vehicle impaired (OVI). Therefore, while it is still commonly referred to as DUI, in Ohio people are no longer charged with DUI; they are charged with OVI.
Under the old statute, to be charged with DUI, the vehicle actually had to be moving. The same is not true for OVI: the vehicle doesn’t even have to be running so long as you are in the driver’s seat and the keys are within reach. Example: the vehicle is pulled off to the side of the roadway with the driver in the driver’s seat asleep (passed out) and the keys in the driver’s hand.
If the police officer can’t prove that you actually drove the vehicle while impaired, you can be charged with Physical Control, however, so long as it can be reasonably inferred (either through direct or circumstantial evidence) that you drove while impaired, you can still be charged with OVI.
As a Columbus, Ohio DUI Lawyer I am often asked about the significance of field sobriety testing and its impact on defending dui charges. Field or roadside sobriety tests are a series of tests developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to assist the officer in determining the likelihood of the test subject having a blood-alcohol level of higher than 0.08. You can refuse to take these tests!
As a Columbus, Ohio DUI Defense Attorney it is significant to understand not only how the courts work and why field sobriety testing is performed, but also to understand the tests performed by Columbus Police, The Ohio State Highway Patrol, and Other Law Enforcement Agencies in order to properly defend DUI charges in Columbus, Ohio. There are three main field sobriety tests designed to build evidence against individuals charged with DUI:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
Nystagmus is a condition that is check for everyday in thousands of individuals and the HGN is usually administered by someone with much more schooling than a police officer. Specifically, neurologists use this test on a daily basis to check patients for various neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. When defending DUI Charges in Columbus Ohio, your DUI attorney can bring attention to the fact that there are numerous substances that we ingest that can also cause nystagmus including nicotine and caffeine, in addition to alcohol.
The HGN test is performed by a police officer who holds a pen or other object in his or her hand in front of the face of the person they have pulled over under suspicion of DUI. Then, the police officer moves the instrument and asks the person to follow it with their eyes. The officer then watches for nystagmus - an involuntary twitch of the eyeball called nystagmus.
The Walk & Turn Test
This is another exercise used to assist the police officer in knowing the likelihood that you will have a blood alcohol percentage of 0.08 or greater, thus testing high for DUI charges. The police officer administering the DUI test should be trained to provide very specific instructions and will be looking for the following indicators of being above the legal alcohol limit to drive:
Suspect Cannot Keep Their Balance While Listening To The Instructions
i. Score this only if suspect does not maintain the heel-to-toe position throughout the instructions (feet must actually break apart)
ii. Do not score this clue if suspect sways/uses his arms to balance himself, but maintains the heel-to-toe position
Suspect Starts Before Instructions Are Finished
Suspect Stops While Walking
i. Record this clue if suspect pauses for several seconds
ii. Do not record this clue if the suspect is merely walking slowly
Suspect Does Not Touch Heel-to-Toe – gap between heel and toe must be more than ½ inch
Suspect Steps Off The Line – at least one foot of the suspect must be entirely off the line
Suspect Uses Arms To Balance – arm(s) must be raised more than 6 inches from sides for this clue
Suspect Makes Improper Turn
i. Suspect removes front foot from the line while turning
ii. Suspect does not follow directions as demonstrated (i.e., spins or pivots around)
Suspect Uses Incorrect Number of Steps – either more or fewer steps in either direction
The One-legged stand (OLS)
The NHTSA guidelines instruct the police officer to watch for the following:
Suspect Sways While Balancing – side-to-side or back-and-forth motion while in one-leg stand position
Suspect Uses Arms To Balance – arms must be raised more than 6 inches from sides to count this clue
Suspect Hopping (to maintain balance) –resorts to hopping in order to maintain balance
Suspect Puts Foot Down – not able to maintain one-leg position, but puts foot down one or more times during 30 second count
While these tests are not conclusive evidence of OVI, if the officer has enough indicators, they can provide the necessary probable cause to arrest an individual for OVI and if the matter goes to trial, the officer can testify to his/her observations even if the field sobriety tests are suppressed.
The first thing to know is that there are two types of breathalyzers: the Portable Breath Test (PBT) and the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) machines that are generally located at a police precinct. In Ohio, the large machine used is either the Intoxylizer 8000 or the Intoxylizer 5000.
PBTs: PBTs are notoriously unreliable. As such, these results cannot prove guilt of OVI, but like field sobriety tests, a result over .08 can provide the officer probable cause for arrest. Two things are important to remember with regard to the PBT: One, you can refuse this test without the same penalties of refusing the Intoxylizer, i.e. there is not a mandatory license suspension; and two, PBTs are known to give “false high” results. This means that people can blow well over a .08 and not actually have a BAC of over .08. This matters because often times people who blow over a .08 on a PBT often think that they have no defense and then go ahead and submit to the test on the BAC machine.
BAC Machines: The results of these machines (most often the Intoxylizer 5000 or Intoxylizer 8000 in Ohio) can be used in Court to prove OVI. While these results can be attacked for reliability – and are – it is best to understand what can happen if you do or don’t blow. As said above, if you do blow and your result is over the legal limit, this can be used as evidence to support your conviction for OVI. If you do not blow, your license is automatically suspended for one year, but there is no definitive proof of intoxication and most people are eligible for driving privileges.
The main thing to know is that you do not have to submit to breath tests, but that if you do, the results do not necessarily determine the outcome of your case.
If your alcohol level is a .17 or above on a breath test, or .238 or above in the urine, then you may be arrested for a high test OVI. This is more serious than a low test DUI because the penalties are stricter. If it is your first offense, you must wait at least fourteen (14) days before getting driving privileges and may be required to have yellow plates or an immobilizing device. Your jail time is a mandatory 6 days or 3 days in jail and 3 day driver’s intervention program. Also, your fines range from $250.00-1,000.00 with a license suspension of 6 months to 3 years
Absolutely! There are many ways to fight OVI charges and even the results of BAC tests. What is important is that you have an attorney that is versed in the law and the variety of defenses available to persons charged with OVI. Mr. Edwards has this experience and has successfully challenged many breath tests and OVI arrests to reach a favorable result for his clients.
Penalties can vary depending on several factors, one being whether you have had a prior DUI / OVI and if so, how long ago it occurred. Often penalties for a second or third DUI / OVI can be very severe if you do not have a DUI attorney vigorously fighting for your rights. Mr. Edwards has experience dealing with many DUI/OVI offenses, including people for whom this may not be their first offense. He knows the risks and penalties possible and is able to help you negotiate the system to get the best possible result to your Ohio DUI/OVI case.
Columbus, Ohio OVI/DUI Attorney Edwards works for a variety of clients from all different walks of life and prides himself on his ability to see the person and not just the charge. Whether this is your first interaction with law enforcement or you have been involved in the system before, you can be sure that DUI/OVI Attorney Edwards will be sensitive to your individual circumstances and history. Additionally, because penalties for OVI can vary according to criminal history, Mr. Edwards’ twenty years of experience in criminal defense means that he has the knowledge and skill to deal with every OVI and not just first-time offenders.
If you are stopped for drunk driving and you refuse to take the sobriety test, or if your test results exceed the legal limit of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), the officer can take your driver's license and you will have an automatic Administrative License Suspension (ALS). The ALS is a separate, civil case against you by the BMV. Depending on previous offenses or refusals, you can have your license automatically suspended for a period of 90 days to five years. The administrative suspension is independent of any jail term, fine or other criminal penalty imposed in court for a DUI offense.
At your arraignment, your attorney will deal with your ALS. It is very important for any attorney to properly request a stay of the ALS (this stays or suspends the ALS and you may continue to drive depending on the circumstances) or appeal the ALS. The ALS must be appealed within a certain time period or you will lose your right to contest the ALS.
If you are convicted of OVI, the Judge may suspend your license. However, with the correct representation, it is still possible to have driving privileges throughout your court-ordered suspension. In order to obtain these privileges, however, you need an attorney that is well-versed in the methods and procedures to get the same. Attorney Edwards has this experience.
Unlike many area firms who leave OVI/DUI work to younger and less experienced associates, when you hire Columbus, Ohio DUI / OVI Attorney Edwards to represent you, you can be assured that he and he alone is doing the vast majority of work on your case.
If you or someone you know is facing Ohio OVI/DUI charges, you need an attorney on your side that will not only work with you to obtain the best possible result, but will also treat you like the person you are and not just another case. Contact Columbus, Ohio DUI / OVI attorney today.
All Rights Reserved Now Accepting Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover