Are you facing DUI charges in Columbus, Ohio? A strong, vigorous defense can be the difference between time behind bars and walking away with your future intact. That’s why you shouldn’t hesitate to call the Columbus DUI lawyers at James D. Owen, LLC for immediate legal assistance.

We’re here to help you when you need it most. Our Columbus law firm offers a free consultation so contact us today to set up a time to discuss your DUI/OVI case.

How Will a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me If I’m Facing DUI Charges in Columbus?

Intoxicated or drunk driving can lead to significant penalties in Ohio. For that reason, you’ll want a qualified criminal defense attorney on your side that is skilled at handling these types of criminal offenses and will fight for you. 

At James D. Owen, LLC, we have over 25 years of experience representing clients faced with serious criminal charges. Our practice areas include driving under the influence/DUI defense. Our firm has helped people avoid jail time, and we may be able to get your charges dropped. We will pursue all possible defenses available to you and make sure all legal options are explored.

Part of our representation includes investigating the facts surrounding your arrest and evaluating all of the evidence. We will work hard in negotiating with the prosecutor’s office to have your charges dismissed or at least reduced. 

If your case goes to municipal court, we will advocate for your interests during all stages of the legal process, including the arrangement, discovery period, pretrial conferences, and the trial itself. We can also help you avoid a license suspension or work to get your license reinstated. 

Let us put our experience to work for you. Contact our Columbus law firm today to schedule your free initial case assessment.

Overview of DUI Laws in Columbus, OH 

As you may or may not know, in Ohio, the crime of driving under the influence is referred to as Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence (OVI). This definition includes intoxication from drugs, alcohol, or both. Now, there are two methods that the prosecutor can use to prove that you violated the law.

Field Sobriety Test: One method is through a field sobriety test. This is administered by law enforcement during a traffic stop in order to demonstrate that a driver is impaired. Impairment is determined by the officer based on you failing the test, which might include walking a straight line, touching your nose, or standing on one leg.

Chemical Tests: The other method is by measuring your blood alcohol content (BAC) to see if it is over the legal limit. Keep in mind that if you are over the BAC limit, it does not matter that you passed the field sobriety test, and vice versa. Further, note that the legal limit depends on the type of substance in your system.

Below is a list of common drugs and their limits for operating a motor vehicle in Columbus:  

  • Alcohol: blood alcohol content over .08%
  • Amphetamines: 100 nanograms per milliliter of blood
  • Cocaine: 50 nanograms per milliliter of blood
  • Heroin: 2,000 nanograms per milliliter of blood
  • LSD: 25 nanograms per milliliter of blood
  • Marijuana: 20 nanograms per milliliter of urine

Remember, having any amount of these substances in your system combined with a failed sobriety test is sufficient to charge you with OVI in Ohio. 

Aggravated and Underage OVI

It’s important to note that the penalties for a DUI/OVI charge increase if your BAC is found to be over 0.17%. This is considered aggravated OVI and it can result in you receiving more jail time. You may also be subject to house arrest and alcohol monitoring.

In addition, the acceptable legal limit for drivers under the age of 21 is much lower in Ohio. Specifically, minors can be charged with OVI if their BAC is over 0.02%.

Implied Consent to Alcohol and Drug Testing

Ohio is what is known as an “implied consent” state. This means that when you apply for a driver’s license, you automatically give your consent to having your breath, urine, and blood tested for drugs and alcohol. However, bear in mind that this consent only applies during the time when you are being arrested. 

This is important because your implied consent does not extend to situations where an officer has no reason to believe you are under the influence, such as at random vehicle checkpoints. This means that, in these situations, you can refuse to take the test without repercussions.

However, note that if an officer can establish a basis for arresting you, you would be required to take the test. To do so, he or she must have reasonable grounds for believing you are under the influence, which might be ascertained from your behavior or movements. In this case, your refusal to take the test could result in your license being suspended. 

Keep in mind that if you are unconscious, law enforcement may administer a field sobriety test without your consent. Further, an officer has the option of obtaining a warrant to force you to take the test. Refusal to do so in this situation would be considered contempt of court, which could subject you to additional penalties beyond license suspension. 

What Are the Penalties For Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence in Ohio?

As you might imagine, the penalties you face for OVI in Ohio depend largely on whether you have any prior convictions involving driving under the influence on your record.

First OVI Offense

If this is your first offense, you could be ordered to serve between 3 days and 6 months in jail. You are also subject to having your driving privileges suspended for between 1 and 3 years, and fined up to $1,075.

Second OVI Offense

For a second offense, you could face between 10 days and 6 months in jail. You may also have your license suspended for between 1 and 7 years, and receive fines of up to $1675.

Third OVI Offense

With a third offense, the jail sentence increases to between 30 days and 1 year. Your license can be suspended for between 2 and 12 years, and you face fines up to $2,750.

Penalties for Underage OVI

Keep in mind that if you are underage, the penalties for OVI are different. For a first offense, you would be subject to serving up to 30 days in jail and receive up to $250 in fines. You could also have your license suspended for up to 2 years. 

For a second offense, you could face up to 60 days in jail. You are also subject to having your license suspended for between 1 and 5 years and ordered to pay up to $500 in fines. 

License Suspension and Interlocking Devices

Having your license suspended following an OVI can be more than a minor inconvenience. If this happens to you and you rely on your car to get around, you may be concerned about what options you have. In these cases, you may be eligible for a limited license which you can apply for through the court.

If the judge decides to grant you the license, it will specify where and when you can drive. Typically, you are limited to driving to and from work, school, and court-ordered treatment programs. It is important that you follow these rules or you could face additional penalties for noncompliance.

You may also be required to have what is known as an interlocking device installed in your vehicle. This device acts like a breathalyzer and your car will not start until you breathe into it. These are optional for the first two OVI offenses, but become mandatory if you receive three or more convictions.    

Community Control Sanctions

Sometimes the court will allow you to reduce or avoid jail time through what are known as community control sanctions. These alternative options require you to participate in a drug/alcohol treatment program, and the court may order house arrest. You are also required to submit to alcohol electronic monitoring. This involves using a device that tracks alcohol consumption by periodically testing your perspiration.

Defending Against DUI Charges in Columbus

Note that in all criminal cases, the prosecution is required to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard and means that there can be no other logical explanation from the facts other than you were driving under the influence. 

With that in mind, there are a number of ways that you can challenge the prosecution’s case.

Breath Tests Unreliable: One method is by investigating how the breathalyzer was administered. It is not uncommon for these devices to not be properly calibrated, which can give inaccurate results.  

Chain of Custody or Sample Issues; There may also be issues that came up when the police took or processed your urine or blood sample. Field sobriety tests are also not always given correctly. An example would be if an officer was never properly trained on how to explain the instructions or evaluate your performance.

Constitutional Violations: Further, sometimes a traffic stop is conducted illegally. Keep in mind an officer must have a reasonable basis for pulling you over. These cases also require you to be in physical control of the vehicle, which means that you must be in the front seat with the keys in the ignition to be charged with OVI. 

Contact Our Columbus DUI Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation

As you can see, OVI criminal charges are not something to take lightly in Ohio. For that reason, it’s important to seek legal advice from a qualified Columbus criminal defense attorney from the beginning. Contact our Franklin County law office today for a free consultation. 

DUI Defense Guide