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OVI Charges in Ohio: All the Basics You Need to Know

Stephanie Gordon June 13, 2022

Here's something not many people know: in Ohio, instead of DUI (driving under the influence), they use the term operating a vehicle under the influence or OVI. Generally, you will be charged with OVI if you have a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08 percent or higher.

If you are charged with operating a vehicle while impaired, it is recommended that you seek the help of a competent and experienced criminal defense lawyer. If you are in the driver's seat of a vehicle and the keys are there, your criminal defense lawyer will need to defend you against an alleged OVI charge even if the vehicle is just parked.

What to Do at an OVI Traffic Stop

Under Ohio's criminal law, operating a vehicle impaired applies to individuals suspected of being impaired while operating a bicycle, horse-drawn carriage, car, and other vehicles—motorized or otherwise. If you are pulled over on suspicion of OVI, keep the following in mind:

Show compliance.

As soon as you hear a siren or see flashing lights, take your foot off the pedal and pull over. Don't forget to use the turn signal to let the police officer know you are complying. If it's dark, turn off your engine but leave the lights on. 

Refrain from moving in your seat. Don't reach for your registration or license until you are asked to do so. If you fidget in your seat, the officer might think you are trying to hide something illegal.

Don't volunteer any information.

It is expected that the officer will ask you questions. While you need to answer certain questions like your name and address, you have the option not to volunteer any information that might incriminate you.

If you are not careful, some of the information you provide might give the officer probable cause to investigate further. Also, always be polite and avoid picking up a fight or arguing with the police officer.

Refuse roadside tests.

There's a common misconception that taking roadside sobriety tests is mandatory. Here's the truth: you have the option to refuse field sobriety tests. Roadside tests include following the officer's fingers with your eyes, balancing on one foot, and walking a straight line. However, you need to comply if you are asked to step out of the vehicle.

Weigh your options.

Since Ohio is an implied consent state, you are presumed to have given consent to BAC chemical testing. If you refuse, you can face certain penalties like license suspension for up to one year.

Fortunately, your lawyer might be able to modify the license suspension and can get you driving privileges for important activities like work. If you agree to take a breathalyzer test and your BAC is above .08, you can be charged with OVI per se.

What Minors Need to Know About OVI Penalties

The legal drinking age is 21 years old. Unfortunately, it is easy for some underage individuals to access alcohol. When the operation of a vehicle is combined with underage drinking, serious accidents become more likely.

If you are under 21 years old and you operate a vehicle while under the influence, you will be charged with operation of a vehicle after underage consumption or OVUAC. You will also be charged with OVUAC if you are underage and have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02 percent.

Final Thoughts

Lastly, if you are facing alleged OVUAC charges, it is possible that you can also be charged with other criminal offenses such as solicitation of alcohol, distribution of alcohol to other minors, and possession of alcohol. The charges can result in additional legal penalties when convicted.

About the Author

Stephanie Gordon currently works as the Content Marketing Strategist for the Arizona Criminal Law Team. Aside from spreading awareness about criminal law and defense, she enjoys reading and trail running with her family and friends.