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Lawrence County Ohio OVI Attorneys
 

Facing an OVI in Ohio can be stressful.  Individuals in Ohio charged with an OVI face severe penalties including possible jail time, fines, community service, loss of driver's license, increased insurance costs, and possible loss of employment or employment opportunities. 

 

Penalties for OVI Convictions:

  • First Offense: 3 days to 6 months in jail, $375 to $1,075 fine, and a license suspension of 1 to 3 years.

  • Second Offense: 10 days to 6 months in jail, $525 to $1,625 fine, and a license suspension of 1 to 7 years.

  • Third Offense: 30 days to 1 year in jail, $850 to $2,750 fine, and a license suspension of 2 to 12 years.

  • Fourth and Subsequent Offenses: Treated as felonies with more severe penalties.

 

Understanding the procedure of how an OVI case proceeds and potential defenses can help accused individuals navigate the complexities of Ohio's OVI law. If facing an OVI charge, consulting with, and knowing how to hire the right experienced attorney is crucial.

An OVI in Ohio begins when the officer first observes the driver even before a traffic stop occurs.  The officer's alleged observations of the accused's driving begins the OVI investigation.  The officer is trained by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration that the first portion of the OVI investigation is Vehicle in Motion.  The officer will observe the accused's driving looking for potential indicators of impairment.  If the officer believes he has observed a traffic violation, then the officer conducts a traffic stop. 

After the officer in an OVI investigation conducts the traffic stop, the investigation moves into the second phase.  The officer is going to make personal contact with the driver.  During this time, the officer is looking for other potential indicators of impairment such as the odor of an alcoholic beverage, bloodshot eyes, fumbling fingers, and the general inability to divide attention between tasks and answering questions.  If the officer believes he has reasonable suspicion to do so, then he will remove the driver from the vehicle to conduct Standard Field Sobriety Testing. 

The Standard Field Sobriety Testing battery consists of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Walk and Turn Test, and the One Leg Stand Test.  During these tests, the officer is attempting to observe specific indicators of impairment to be used later in an OVI prosecution. At the end of the Standard Field Sobriety Test battery, officers will often ask the driver to take a portable breath test (PBT).  Under Ohio Law, there is absolutely no penalty for refusing Standard Field Sobriety Testing or a portable breath test. 

At this time, the officer has to make a decision on whether there is probable cause to arrest and charge a driver with a violation of Ohio's OVI law. If arrested, the driver will be asked to submit to a breath or urine screen in an effort by law enforcement to obtain the amount of alcohol or drugs in the driver's body. If the driver tests tests greater than the legal limit or refuses the test, an Administrative License Suspension (ALS) is immediately imposed.

Administrative License Suspension (ALS):

  • Upon arrest for OVI, the driver’s license can be suspended immediately if they refuse a chemical test or if they test above the legal limit (0.08% BAC for those over 21, 0.02% for underage drivers, and 0.04% for commercial drivers).

  • The suspension period can vary: 1 year for a refusal, 90 days for a first-time test failure.

  • The driver has the right to request an administrative hearing to appeal the suspension within a certain period (usually within 30 days of arrest).

  • A driver must wait 15 days before applying for driving privileges when an Administrative License Suspension is imposed.

  • Attorneys well trained in OVI law may file to immediately terminate an Administrative License Suspension and immediately reinstate their client's license.

Once charged, the accused will need to appear in court for their Initial Appearance or Arraignment: The accused must appear in court to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest).  The Court will set Bail and conditions of release may be set.  The court will then set one or more Pretrial hearings.  During the pretrial phase, the parties will exchange discovery: Both sides exchange evidence, such as police reports, breathalyzer results, and witness statements. The defense may file motions to suppress evidence (e.g., challenging the legality of the stop, probable cause for arrest, or the accuracy of the breathalyzer) or Motions in Limine barring the State of Ohio from using evidence on grounds that it violates the Ohio Rules of Evidence.  Pretrial hearings are also an opportunity for the attorneys to negotiate a plea deal, potentially reducing the charge to a lesser offense like reckless driving.

While all this seems daunting, there is good news.  There are many defenses a highly skilled OVI attorney can employ on your behalf.  

Common OVI Defenses:

  • Improper Stop: Challenging the legality of the traffic stop.

  • Lack of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to conduct Standard Field Sobriety Testing.

  • Field Sobriety Test Issues: Questioning the administration or interpretation of field sobriety tests.

  • Attacking the officer's knowledge, training, and experience.

  • Attacking the calibration, maintenance, and administration of portable breathalyzer tests.

  • Breathalyzer Accuracy: Attacking the calibration, maintenance, and administration of breathalyzer tests.

  • Rising BAC Defense: Arguing that the BAC was below the legal limit while driving but increased by the time of the test due to absorption rates.

  • Arguing that the officer did not witness the accused driving.

  • Arguing the State of Ohio cannot prove the test was conducted within 3 hours.

  • A disconnect defense: Arguing that the driver does not appear impaired despite a high breath score.

  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions can mimic impairment (e.g., diabetes, neurological disorders).  

Choosing a skilled OVI attorney for representation is crucial to obtaining the best possible outcome for your case.  

Questions you should ask of any Ohio OVI Defense Attorney:

  • How often does the attorney handle OVI cases?  At McCown, Fisher & Cremeans, LPA, our attorneys regularly engage in OVI litigation and have handled hundreds of cases throughout the courts of Southern Ohio. 

  • Is the attorney a member of any trade groups or associations within the practice of law for OVI defense?  At McCown, Fisher & Cremeans, LPA, our attorneys are members of the National College for DUI Defense, the DUI Defense Lawyers Association, or both.  These organizations are dedicated to the advancement and training of DUI Defense lawyers around the country. 

  • What specialized training has the attorney undertaken as lawyer in field of DUI Defense? Our OVI attorneys have attended numerous trainings through the Ohio Academy of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  Additionally, our attorneys have attended and passed the same trainings as all Ohio State Patrol Officers and are now trained through the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to teach the same DUI training that is required of all Ohio State Highway Patrol officers in Ohio.

  • How is the attorney going to handle the Administrative License Suspension?  Attorneys skilled in Ohio OVI defense should be able to discuss options, requirements, differences, and likelihood of success in filing to terminate the Administrative License Suspension, filing an Appeal of the Administrative License Suspension, requesting a Stay of the Administrative License Suspension, or, if all else fails, obtaining limited driving privileges.

  • How often has the attorney conducted Suppression Hearings or Motion in Limine hearings where the attorney cross-examined the officer?  Many attorneys file Suppression Motions in their cases for their clients, but rarely hold hearings.  The attorneys at McCown, Fisher & Cremeans regularly conduct Suppression hearings and regularly cross-examine officers to determine the veracity of the officer's claims and to determine the strength of the case. 

  • Has the attorney ever conducted a trial by jury?  At McCown, Fisher & Cremeans, LPA, our attorneys believe in the jury system and have experience litigating cases before judges and before juries. 

  • Is the attorney familiar with studies and learned treatises that can be used in the defense?  Our attorneys are well-versed in using studies and learned treatises in cases to benefit our clients.

  • I have a medical condition.  Will this condition benefit or hurt my case?  Skilled Ohio OVI attorneys should be prepared to ask questions about and discuss any medical condition afflicting their client.  Often times, medical conditions can provide a solid defense to the charges.  

If you need Ohio OVI representation, call McCown, Fisher & Cremeans, at either of convenient Lawrence County, Ohio locations today.  

 Ironton Ohio Office                                                                                                                                         

 311 Park Avenue                                                                                                                                               

 Ironton, OH 45638                                                                                                                                       

 (740) 532-8744   

 

 Chesapeake Ohio Office

  220 4th Street 

 Chesapeake, OH 45619

 (740) 867-3166                                                                                                                                  

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