There are several misconceptions about the laws and procedures when it comes to being charged with driving under the influence in Ohio. It’s best to know your rights before you’re stopped or pulled over so or can make informed decisions on how to handle the situation. It is also crucial to protect yourself and your record by working with an experienced local DUI lawyer, who can explain what you’re facing and help resolve the situation in the best way possible.
If you have been arrested and are facing charges of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the Sandusky, Ohio area, contact criminal defense attorney Troy Wisehart today. Call (419) 625-7770 or our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Ohio DUI Facts to Remember
You Don’t Need to be Driving to be Arrested
You can be arrested and convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI in Ohio) but not driving because you had “physical control” of the vehicle.
All that is requires is for you to be under the influence of drugs (legal or illegal) or alcohol, have a high enough blood alcohol level content, or just impaired by alcohol or drugs. For you to be in physical control of a vehicle, the keys only need to be within reach.
Officers Look for Various Signs of Impairment
Officers are highly trained in spotting evidence of OVI, including:
- Making wide turns
- Straddling lanes
- Weaving in and out of lanes
- Swerving within a lane
- Road rage
- Driving too fast or too slowly
- Disobeying traffic signals or signs
- Getting involved in an accident
- Driving off the road
- The driver smells like alcohol or drugs
- The driver appears to be agitated, dozing off, slurring speech or not in control of him or herself
You Can Be Arrested if You are Under the Limit
If your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level is 0.08, the officer doesn’t need further evidence of impairment to make an arrest. An arrest can also be made if the level is less than that and there is enough evidence of impairment. This can include slurred speech, glassy eyes, lack of balance, and the aroma of drugs or alcohol.
Additionally, if you’re found to have a certain level of illegal drugs, further evidence of impairment isn’t needed. These levels of drugs and alcohol make arrests easier, but they’re not necessary to make an arrest.
You Can Refuse Field Sobriety Tests
You can refuse to take a field sobriety test or roadside breath test without fear of consequences. These tests are optional and largely used to collect evidence of impairment. However, due to Ohio’s “implied consent” law, you are required to comply with DUI testing following an arrest. A refusal at this stage will trigger certain automatic penalties , like the immediate suspension of your license. You can contest the suspension at a later hearing, but if you’re not successful, the suspension can last a year for a first offense.
The Police Must Read Your Miranda Rights
Officers are required by law to give you the Miranda Warning, which advises you of your right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning among others. However, it does not need to provide before an arrest. Using the lack or a proper Miranda Warning as a defense can come up if the officer neglected to give you the warning entirely or if it’s disputed when you were confined or restricted to the point where you were, under the law, arrested and when you received the warning.
An Ohio OVI Can Lead to Jail Time
Many factors determine whether, if you’re convicted, you will serve jail time:
- The facts of your arrest and your prior criminal history, if any
- If this is a first-time offense and you have no earlier criminal record, it’s not likely you’ll serve jail-time, especially if you have the help of an attorney.
- If you were involved in an accident where someone was injured, especially if they were seriously hurt, jail time is more likely
- As the number of offenses increases, so does the likelihood of being incarcerated after a conviction
OVI Charges Can be Reduced
Plea agreements typically resolve most criminal charges. They often involve a defendant agreeing to plead guilty to a lower charge and a particular sentence in exchange for not going to trial. An OVI could be part of this kind of agreement depending on:
- Whether the prosecutor and judge are open to it (they don’t have a “zero tolerance” view of lessening OVI charges),
- The strength of the evidence against you
- Whether others suffered injuries in an accident
- How cooperative you were during the process
You Can Still Fight OVI Charges
An arrest is one thing, a conviction is something else. An arrest requires the showing of probable cause. The prosecution then needs to show evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict.
Depending on the facts of your situation, there may be any number of procedural, legal or constitutional bases for a defense. This includes the actions of the officer and the accuracy and proper maintenance of the breathalyzer.
Contact a DUI Lawyer for Help
Don’t risk incriminating yourself by talking to law enforcement without speaking to an attorney first. Call the Ohio DUI lawyers at Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA right away. With more than 25 years of experience defending clients against OVI charges, you’ll have a skilled, compassionate and proven criminal defense team on your side.
Call us today at (419) 625-7770 or our online contact form to schedule your free consultation and learn how our personalized and aggressive defense tactics may be able to help you deal with a DUI quickly and effectively.