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DUI and DWI Laws in Cleveland, Ohio

An Operating a Vehicle while under the Influence (OVI) charge in or around Cleveland is a serious matter. The consequences of a conviction can potentially ruin a life. It’s always best to understand how the laws work before such a situation occurs. If you do find yourself facing these charges, it’s best to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

The Legal Limit

The first question that comes to mind with DUI laws is that of the legal limit. In Ohio, of-age drinkers need to keep their BAC below 0.08 percent. For commercial drivers the limit drops to 0.04 percent, and for minors it is 0.02 percent. For anyone operating a vehicle, a BAC above 0.17 percent escalates the charges and is likely to incur higher fines and penalties.

Implied Consent

Ohio, like many states, operates under a platform of implied consent. Basically, by driving on Ohio roads, you are already giving consent for law enforcement to perform a chemical blood alcohol test. There are a few conditions.

Implied consent only refers to blood, urine and breath tests performed after an arrest is made. You are not obligated to participate in any field sobriety tests, and they’re often unreliable at best. Once you are arrested, refusing to take a test comes with serious penalties. Ohio law enforcement is permitted to use reasonable force to make you take the test. Beyond that, violation of implied consent will come with its own set of mandatory penalties that include at least one year of license suspension. Also, refusing to take a test will not necessarily prevent you from being convicted of an OVI.

What Constitutes an OVI in Ohio?

OVI convictions start with an arrest. Law enforcement personnel can make the arrest on probable cause. This empowers them to get you into a situation to take a BAC test regardless of the events leading up to that point. Beyond that, a conviction is a matter of criminal court, and you will have an opportunity to hire a law firm to represent you. Unlike most traffic violations, OVI cases are not simple and representing yourself is not typically recommended.

Ohio also applies OVI laws to anyone in physical control of a vehicle. This means you can be guilty of an OVI without actually driving at all. Simply being in the driver’s seat and in possession of the keys is enough.

Felony Offenses

For the most part, Ohio adheres to the “three strikes” principle. Up to three OVI offenses can be obtained without permanently losing your license. The fees and potential jail time are steep, but any conviction after the third will escalate the case to felony charges. From here the fines and imprisonment jump rapidly, and you can permanently lose the right to drive. There are other circumstances that can elevate a case before a third strike. They typically include destruction of property, causing bodily harm, driving under a suspension or having a BAC above 0.17 percent. If these or a number of other factors exist, the case can become complicated very quickly, so be sure to involve your attorney as soon as possible.

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