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Operating a vehicle intoxicated, Driving under the influence and the older term, Driving while Intoxicated, all refer to the same charge; now generally known as OVI.
OVI is one serious offense that a law abiding citizen can find themselves involved in. In his 30 years as an attorney, Mr. Booher has seen the “war on OVI” and has represented hundreds of individuals charged with these offenses.
OVIs are very complex cases. Even the most minor, first time charge is a first degree misdemeanor, and carries a minimum jail sentence of 3 days and a maximum of 6 months. In cases where the individual has prior OVI offenses or has a high breath test, the penalties go up exponentially. In addition, a high percentage of OVI cases involve what is called an “Administrative License Suspension”. This is an immediate suspension of your driving rights upon your arrest, and takes place when you either test over the legal limit or refuse to take a breath test.
There are 2 basic ways a person can be found guilty of an OVI. The first is by testing over the limit of .08% blood alcohol. Most of the time the test is conducted by a breath testing machine at the police station, but when running OVI checkpoints, the police may use a portable machine that is still admissible in court. The small handheld breath testing machines commonly used by police are used only to prove probable cause for arrest, and are not admissible in court to prove intoxication.
Blood alcohol level may also be proved by a test of blood, urine, or plasma. Samples of these fluids are common when the law enforcement personal suspect drug use. The Ohio legislature has established limits on the commonly abused drugs, and it is now a violation of the OVI law to drive with any significant level of drugs in your system.
Even if there is no BAC test you can still be prosecuted for OVI if the prosecutor can prove you were “driving under the influence”, which is defined as any significant impairment of your ability to drive as a result of alcohol and/or drugs. Besides the officer’s observations of the driver’s speech, balance and coordination, there are 3 main tests used to determine intoxication. They are the walk and turn test, the one leg stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Most police officers are trained in conducting these tests and they often form the bulk of evidence for the state. The problem is that they don’t always tell the real story. These tests don’t take into account individual characteristics such as disabilities or balance issues. They are usually conducted at the side of the road under the worst possible circumstances, and often the officer fails to follow the standards set for conducting each of these tests.
Prompt consultation with an experienced attorney may result in the state’s evidence being deemed inadmissible and thrown out of court. Mr. Booher has years of experience in dealing with these issues.