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Can You Get an OVI While Riding a Bike, Motorcycle, or Even a Scooter?

Douglas A. Ball Attorney at Law Feb. 8, 2024

Glass of beer, car keys and judge gavel on a wooden tableAfter a long ride, a drink may sound like a good idea. You are not driving, after all, so you should be okay. You may be surprised to learn you can be charged with an OVI, even when you are not driving a motor vehicle. Biking or scootering home from the bar may seem safe, but you are wrong.  

The truth is that you can be charged with an Operating Vehicle Impaired (OVI) offense while riding a bike, motorcycle, or even a scooter.  

Are you facing OVI charges in Ohio? Don't wait to seek legal help. A skilled DUI lawyer can help you understand your rights and build a strong defense against these charges. But first, let's dive deeper into the laws surrounding OVIs while riding alternative modes of transportation in Ohio. 

Understanding OVI Charges 

An Operating Vehicle Impaired (OVI) charge is a legal offense in Ohio that pertains to operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of them. This definition extends to drivers and operators of all vehicles, which is why bicycles, motorcycles, and yes, even scooters are included.  

An OVI is the equivalent of what is often termed DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in many other states. 

It's crucial to understand that alcohol impairs your reaction time, balance, and judgment. All faculties that are essential for safely operating even non-motorized vehicles. That's why we have these laws in the first place.  

Police officers can and do stop cyclists and scooter riders if they exhibit signs of impairment. If your blood alcohol concentration is above the legal limit of 0.08%, or there's evidence of impairment, you may be facing the same serious consequences as those operating a car, including fines, a criminal record, and even jail time. 

The Consequences of an OVI Conviction 

The penalties for an OVI conviction are severe, regardless of whether you're operating a car, bike, motorcycle, or scooter. You could potentially face: 

  • Jail time 

  • Fines 

  • License suspension or revocation 

  • Mandatory alcohol treatment 

  • Installation of an ignition interlock device 

  • A permanently marked criminal record 

And yes, even if you were arrested while riding a non-motorized vehicle, your driver's license could be at risk. What's more, if you're charged with another OVI down the line, it will be considered a repeat offense, leading to even stricter penalties. 

You Have Options 

Despite the gravity of OVI charges, it's important to remember that being charged is not the same as being convicted. A charge represents only the accusation of wrongdoing, and every individual is afforded the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law. If you've been charged, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were operating the vehicle impaired by alcohol or drugs.  

Common OVI Defense Strategies 

When building your defense, an experienced attorney can employ various strategies to challenge the OVI charge: 

  • Questioning the Traffic Stop: It must be established that law enforcement had a legal reason to stop you. Any evidence gathered from an unlawful stop can often be suppressed. 

  • Accuracy of Sobriety Testing: This involves scrutinizing the methods and accuracy of field sobriety or breathalyzer tests. If the testing equipment is flawed or the test wasn't administered correctly, the results may not be admissible. 

  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions can mimic symptoms of impairment or affect the results of a breathalyzer test. Proper documentation can support this defense. 

  • Chain of Custody and Handling of Evidence: Any mishandling or contamination of blood test samples may render the test results unreliable. 

  • Proper Police Procedure: Your attorney can evaluate whether the arresting officer followed all proper procedures and if your rights were respected throughout the process. 

It must be emphasized that every case is unique, and therefore, consulting with an attorney is critical to identifying the most effective defense strategy for your particular situation.  

The Importance of Legal Assistance 

If you've been charged with an OVI while riding a bike, motorcycle, or scooter, it's critical not to underestimate the seriousness of the situation.  

The charges and penalties are no less severe than those related to motor vehicles. It's essential to enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney, like Attorney Douglas A. Ball, who can meticulously examine your case, identify any potential errors made during your arrest, and negotiate on your behalf. 

Protect Your Freedom 

Enjoying the great outdoors of Ohio on a bike, motorcycle, or scooter is a wonderful pastime. You don't want this freedom taken away. That's why it's paramount to understand that an OVI charge can still apply, even if you're not in a motor vehicle.  

If you find yourself facing such charges, remember that the consequences are just as serious and that seeking legal assistance should be your first step. 

For more information about OVI charges in Ohio, contact Douglas A. Ball, Attorney at Law, serving clients throughout Batavia, Clermont, Hamilton, Brown, and Warren Counties, Ohio.