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Ohio Felony & Misdemeanor Attorney Handles OMVI Charges

Cleveland criminal attorney defends your driving privileges

For years, Ohio police have been cracking down on those suspected of operating a car, truck or other motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Penalties for first-time offenses are harsh while repeat offenders face truly daunting penalties. Michael C. Asseff Attorney at Law has defended Ohio residents for 10 years.

What is considered drunk driving in Ohio?

In Ohio, it is a crime to operate a vehicle while impaired (OMVI or OVI). More commonly referred to as DUI or DWI, recent changes to Ohio law have made it illegal not just to drive a motor vehicle, like a car, while intoxicated, but also to use a nonmotorized vehicle such as a bike or carriage. To be charged with an OVI offense your blood alcohol content (BAC) must exceed the legal limit. A breathalyzer is one of the most common BAC tests. A reading of .08 or greater is grounds for an OVI charge. However, if you are under the legal drinking age of 21, the limits are lower — a reading of just .02 triggers OVI liability. If a blood or other test reveals a schedule I drug in your system, you may be charged with OVI even if you are not guilty of any other drug crime.

What should I do if I am pulled over?

If you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror, the first thing you should do is to take a deep breath and try to relax. Law enforcement officers are trained to look for nervous, anxious and other suspicious behavior and may incorrectly conclude that you are under the influence of a substance just because you are nervous. Second, keep in mind that you are not required to incriminate yourself or admit to anything to the officer. Just cooperate with officer’s requests for your identification and credentials but decline to answer any further questions or perform a confusing and difficult field sobriety test.

Depending on the situation, the officer may require you to return to the police station to take a blood test to determine your BAC. There are penalties for refusing to take the blood test, but if you have previous convictions for OVI, the benefit of refusing can outweigh the negatives, since another conviction carries higher penalties. However, you should speak with an experienced DUI attorney and understand the potential penalties prior to making this major decision.

What are the penalties for OVI in Ohio?

Like many states, Ohio uses a tiered system based on level of intoxication and recidivism to determine the penalty. If BAC is greater than .08 but less than .17, OVI is a misdemeanor of the 1st degree. Penalties include:

  • A jail sentence of 3 days to 6 months. The court may let you substitute a driver intervention program with probation in place of jail time.
  • A fine of $375 to $1,075
  • A mandatory license suspension of 6 months to 3 years
  • Potential requirement of Ohio’s scarlet letter—the yellow OVI license plate

Repeat offenders face significantly enhanced penalties. Penalties increase with each conviction. A second conviction raises the penalties listed above and also requires electronic house arrest and alcohol or drug assessment screening. Four OVI convictions in six years or six in 20 years is a criminal felony in Ohio and can carry up to a 20-year prison sentence.

Contact us today to defend against DUI charges

An OVI charge can affect your life and make it hard for you to get around. If you have been charged with OVI, contact Michael C. Asseff Attorney at Law. The firm’s West Cleveland office is conveniently located and free consultations are available. Put Mr. Asseff’s experience to work for you: call 440-520-1222 or contacting the firm online.