When facing a “drunk” driving charge—or any charge of driving while impaired, many people have difficulty understanding exactly what they have been charged with. It can be confusing, making it critical to have experienced representation to guide you through the process. The attorneys at Groth & Associates use their knowledge and skills to navigate the criminal justice system in order to preserve your rights. Below are some frequently asked questions.
What is an OVI?
OVI is the abbreviation for “operating a vehicle (while) impaired”. Ohio’s General Assembly amended our drunk driving / DUI statute to broaden the offense from driving under the influence to operating a vehicle impaired. The big difference is that operation does not require that the vehicle actually be moving. As a matter of fact, 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.
Since I took the breathalyzer test, it is possible to fight my OVI/DUI?
Absolutely! Breath test cases are not easy to fight and they generally require the attorney to have a knowledge of the instrument that you blew into, familiarity with the Ohio Department of Health regulations that regulate the maintenance and use of the breath testing instrument, human anatomy and physiology and general trial skills.
What is "blood-alcohol concentration" or "blood-alcohol level"?
Blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is the level of alcohol in the bloodstream from drinking alcoholic beverages. BAC readings are used in court as evidence in drunk-driving cases. The most common method of measure is a breath test, although blood and/or urine testing is sometimes done. A result of .08 or higher may establish a presumption of intoxication. The details of the .08 BAC presumption laws vary among the states, but all 50 states have adopted .08 as their official intoxication level, in large part because of a federal threat of otherwise withholding highway funds.
Can I refuse a Breathalyzer test?
Every state has its own version of an implied consent law providing that a driver impliedly consents to alcohol testing just by the act of driving. In many states, a refusal to take a breath test is itself a criminal violation subject to stiff penalties. For example, refusing a breath test in Ohio will result in automatic one year license suspension or revocation. If you are ultimately found guilty of a drunk-driving offense, there may be additional penalties because of the test refusal, such as a stiffer sentence. Your test refusal may also be used as evidence against you in a drunk-driving case.
Are breath-test results always accurate?
Some courts allow the defendant in a drunk-driving case to challenge the scientific accuracy of breath tests in general, whereas others may allow challenges based on the particular circumstances of a test, such as improperly calibrated equipment or inadequately trained officers. If the test results are inadmissible or can be challenged, the case will probably have to be proven based on other evidence, such as eyewitness testimony and field-sobriety test results.
What if I lose my license but continue to drive?
If a person whose license has been revoked or suspended due to drunk driving chooses to drive without a valid license and is pulled over, he or she stands to suffer more serious consequences, including possible fines, imprisonment, forfeiture of his or her vehicle or extension of the license revocation/suspension. The more prudent course of action is to rely on friends and family for rides or use public transportation during a license revocation or suspension.
How can I get automobile insurance after a drunk-driving conviction?
Although your rates will likely be higher, your insurer may continue to insure you even after a conviction. A subsequent clean-driving record may result in lower rates in the future. If your insurer drops you as a result of the conviction, another insurance company may be willing to accept the risk.
What is the punishment for drunk driving?
Drunk-driving convictions carry serious penalties that vary some among the states. Although courts may go easier on first-time offenders, even in first-offense cases the possible sentences usually include stiff fines and jail time. If the circumstances warrant it, however, the court may choose less-restrictive options or a combination of options, including probation, diversion programs, community service, alcohol awareness education, abuse counseling, ignition interlock systems, home monitoring, suspension of vehicle registration, vehicle impoundment or in-house alcohol treatment. For subsequent offenses, the likelihood of imprisonment and the steepness of fines usually increase and in all cases the loss of driving privileges-at least temporarily-is almost guaranteed.