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There is no charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in the state of Ohio. Rather, impaired drivers face being arrested on charges of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence (OVI). Ohio's OVI laws are strict as the Buckeye State takes impaired driving quite seriously. It imposes severe penalties on convicted drivers that can negatively affect their freedom and finances for the next few years or, in the case of habitual OVI offenders, the foreseeable future.
In Ohio, you don’t even have to have ever been convicted of OVI to have your driving privileges suspended. Those who knowingly permit suspended drivers to operate their vehicles also risk having their own drivers’ licenses suspended.
Ohio drivers stopped by law enforcement for suspicion of impairment behind the wheel must submit to chemical or blood testing as mandated by state law. Those with blood alcohol levels of .08 percent or above have their licenses immediately confiscated and face an automatic administrative driver’s license suspension of no fewer than 90 days. Drivers who refuse a BAC test will automatically lose their driving privileges for at least one year.
The above actions all take place on an administrative level and are entirely separate from criminal penalties imposed by the courts.
The state of Ohio operates on a graduated point accrual system for drivers that can result in suspension of driving privileges after 12 points. OVI convictions carry a six-point penalty. Two convictions within six years may mean that your vehicle is immobilized. Further convictions can result in vehicle forfeitures. In the event of vehicle immobilizations, family members may petition the court to have that penalty waived if they can demonstrate that the immobilization causes the family undue hardship.
Those drivers who have racked up five or more OVI convictions over two decades get listed on Ohio’s Habitual OVI Registry. This list is accessible to the public and includes a list of the offenders’ names, dates of birth, addresses and OVI convictions. Offenders remain on the list until enough time has lapsed that they no longer have five convictions in 20 years.
It is easy to see why law enforcement officers in Ohio crack down on impaired drivers. According to statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 1,123 traffic fatalities within the state in 2012. Of that total, 34 percent of the drivers had a BAC of .08 percent or higher at the time of the fatal collision.
Nobody plans on driving drunk, causing a fatal wreck or getting arrested. Everyone is better served when impaired drivers are off of the roads. However, because not everyone processes alcohol in the same way or at the same rate, it is entirely possible for someone to actually consume very little alcohol and still be over the legal limit for driving. Impairment of abilities begins with the first drink.
If you wind up being charged with an OVI offense in Ohio, a criminal defense attorney can assist with mounting a defense against the charges and help with appeals of administrative license suspensions.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified drunk driving lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local drunk driving attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.