Independence Day is a time to celebrate American history with family and friends, but it can be easy to get caught up in the festivities. The Fourth of July is one of the biggest days of the year for driving under the influence arrests, commonly known as DUI, DWI or OVI depending on the state. In 2011, almost 600 OVI arrests were made by Ohio State Highway Patrol. Ohio has strict laws and harsh penalties for those convicted of an OVI (Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence) offense, ranging from prison time to heavy fines and driver’s license suspensions. These accusations carry serious consequences that can impact all areas of your life.
A person found to have blood alcohol content (BAC) higher than .08 while in physical control of a vehicle can be charged with OVI, according to Chapter 4511 of the Ohio Revised Code. The penalties for the offense increase, however, if the person’s BAC is higher than .17.
The majority of DUI offenders have never been charged before and are facing their first DUI. For first-time offenders with BAC of less than .17, an OVI is usually categorized as a first degree misdemeanor. This can carry a sentence of up to 6 months in prison, but any OVI convictions comes with a mandatory 3 days in jail. If the driver had BAC over .17, however, they may also be required to participate in a driver’s intervention program. In addition, an offender convicted of OVI can face fines from $375 to $1, 075, and the person’s driving privileges can also be suspended from 6 months to three years. A defense attorney may be able to assist you with getting a special permit to drive for purposes such as education and work during your suspension.
If an offender is charged with another DUI within 6 years, the penalties increase as outlined by Ohio Revised Code 4511.19. For a second OVI offense, the offender must serve a mandatory 10 days in jail, and may be sentenced for up to 6 additional months. Fines of up to $1500 can also be ordered, and your license can also be suspended. Subsequent OVI charges continue to increase potential consequences, and if you accrue more than 3 OVIs within 6 years, you may be charged with Felony DUI in Ohio. This means that the charge is a fourth degree felony, and carries potential sentences of up to $10,000 in fines and / or up to 5 years in prison.
In addition to jail time and fees, OVIs can have other negative impacts on your future. Unless a lawyer can help you get the charges reduced or dropped, the offense may go on your record, which can affect your educational, housing, and employment opportunities. Your insurance will probably go up if you are convicted, and you can even be dropped altogether.
Remember to drive safely during the festivities this Independence Day. If you find yourself facing charges after the holiday, seeking legal help may be the best option to work toward a not-guilty verdict, a case dismissal or another favorable outcome. An attorney may be able to fight a blood or urine test, as these tests are administered by humans and are subject to error. These tests are often the prosecution’s key evidence against you, and a lawyer can try to get these thrown out, minimizing your chances of a conviction.