Columbus and Ohio OVI/DUI Frequently Asked Questions

Q – What is the legal limit for Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (OVI) also known as Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Ohio?

A – In specific circumstances, the law in Ohio allows for chemical tests to be taken of your breath, blood and urine. The law in Ohio establishes statutory threshold levels for both alcohol and drugs in chemical tests of breath, blood and urine. If a chemical test demonstrates that the threshold level is reached or exceeded, an individual is considered to be per se under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This means that the individual is considered to be inherently or intrinsically under the influence. A breath test, which is determined by a State approved breathalyzer machine, is the most common chemical test performed by law enforcement officers. The threshold level for a breath test in Ohio is .08 percent.

In Ohio, there are several ways in which you can be charged with OVI or DUI charges relating to alcohol. One way is to be charged with what is commonly referred to as “OVI impaired. You can be charged with OVI for being impaired, without any chemical test, if the officer has reason to believe you are under the influence (blurry eyes, slurred speech, bad driving, stumbling, etc.).

Q – What should I do if I am pulled over and I have been drinking?

A – First and foremost, I do not condone drinking and driving under any circumstances. In fact, I advise all of my clients never to drink and drive. If you are in a public place and think you might be intoxicated, the safest choice you can make is to take a taxi or call a friend to pick you up.

However, I understand the reality is that decent, hardworking people sometimes make an ill-advised decision to drive after drinking alcohol. The best advice I can provide you if you are pulled over is to always be polite to a police officer on the scene. Police officers have a very difficult job to do on a daily basis, and they deserve our respect. Although I cannot advise you specifically on what to do in this situation, you should know your legal rights. If you have been pulled over and a police officer suspects you have been drinking, you may be asked to get out of your car and perform certain field sobriety tests. There is no law in Ohio that requires you to submit to a police officer’s request to perform field sobriety tests. If you refuse to submit to a police officer’s request to perform field sobriety tests, you will likely be arrested and charged with an OVI or DUI charge. After you are arrested, you will likely be asked to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you will be arrested and charged with OVI.

It is important to understand that, although there are repercussions for failing to submit to field sobriety tests, and for failing to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine at the request of a police officer, by submitting to these tests, you run the risk of providing evidence to the State of Ohio that will be used against you to prove that you were operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Q – Do I have to submit to an officer’s request to perform field sobriety tests on me in an effort to determine whether I am under the influence of alcohol?

A – There is no law in Ohio that requires you to submit to an officer’s request to perform field sobriety tests. If you refuse, you will be arrested and taken to a station where you will be asked to take a chemical test (usually a breathalyzer). If you refuse the chemical test, you will be arrested and charged with OVI.

Q – Does it matter how much I’ve been drinking, or if I’m at or over the .08 threshold, I’m going to be charged with OVI?

A – The easiest and most factually accurate response is that ,if you test at or over the .08 threshold on a breathalyzer test, then you will be charged with OVI under the per se provision of the statute. From the perspective of the State of Ohio, it does not matter how much you have had to drink. From a legal defense perspective, the amount of alcohol consumed over time can make a substantial difference in a criminal case. Other issues, such as weight, height and gender, will also affect the outcome of a chemical test. It is important to note that there are different penalties based upon the results of the chemical test. My advice is to contact a OVI/DUI lawyer to discuss your defense if you have been arrested and charged with an OVI.