Getting pulled over by the police is always a nerve-wracking experience. And if you’ve had something to drink, or something else in your system that might impair your judgment, it can be even scarier.
It’s important to remember that you have constitutional rights that the police cannot– or rather, should not– violate. When it comes to DUIs (Driving Under the Influence), police have a bit more freedom to pry than in other cases. But that doesn’t mean that they can walk all over you.
Below, Akron’s fiercest criminal defense attorney Max Hiltner lays out what your rights are if you’re pulled over for a DUI in Ohio, as well as what you should do to avoid arrest.
DUIs in Ohio
In Ohio, you can be found guilty of “operating a vehicle under the influence,” or OVI, if you get behind the wheel under any of the following conditions:
- Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is at least .08%
- Your urine alcohol concentration is .110 or more
- You have a certain amount of marijuana, LSD, cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, methamphetamine, or PCP in your system
- You are “under the influence” of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both
While some of these are a little subjective, you generally won’t be arrested for a DUI unless a biometric test such as a breathalyzer shows that your BAC exceeds the legal limit, or you refuse a chemical test.
The consequences for an OVI conviction in Ohio can be pretty tough.
The legal consequences vary depending on the “level” of your OVI (how intoxicated you were), as well as if it’s your first, second, third, or fourth offense in a ten year period.
- First offense in 10: up to 6 months in jail, up to 5 years probation, fine of up to $1,075
- Second offense: minimum 10 days in jail, up to $1,625 fine, other penalties remain the same as a first time offense
- Third offense: 30 days to 1 year in jail, up to 5 years probation, up to $2,750 fine
- Fourth offense: the charge is now a felony, which could mean 1 year in jail and a fine up to $10,500
If your BAC was over .17, the OVI is considered “high level,” and jail time for these offenses could be doubled.
For more information about potential consequences, check out this Ohio OVI sentencing chart.
Know your rights in DUI cases
Normally, in order to pull you over, a police officer has to have “reasonable suspicion.” This means that they can’t pull you over randomly, an officer must have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that you are breaking the law.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to OVI checkpoints. If they follow the proper procedure, the police can set up random checkpoints to pull people over and test for sobriety.
Whether you’re pulled over on the side of the road or stopped at a checkpoint, you still have certain rights:
- The right to remain silent other than to give your name: Anything you say could be used against you in court, so you don’t have to answer questions like “have you had anything to drink tonight?” or “Where are you coming from?” However, you do have to provide certain identifying information such as your name, license, proof of insurance, etc.
- The right to refuse consent to a search of your car: Unless the police officer has a search warrant (or probable cause), they’re legally not allowed to search your car without your consent.
- The right to refuse to perform roadside field sobriety tests: These tests are almost impossible to pass even if you’re sober, and are subjectively judged by the officer and merely used to arrest you to get you back to the station to request a chemical test.
- The right to refuse to submit to a roadside portable breath test (PBT): PBTs are inaccurate breath tests done on the side of the road to help the officer establish the probable cause needed to arrest you. There is no penalty for refusing this test and the result of this test is not admissible in court because they aren’t reliable.
- The right to an attorney: You have the right to ask to speak to your attorney, or ask to speak to a public defender if you don’t have one.
Implied consent in Ohio
There is one final issue to keep in mind when you’re pulled over for an OVI: “implied consent.”
Under Ohio’s implied consent law, all drivers must submit to chemical testing for sobriety, whether that’s a blood test, a breath test, or a urine test.
If you refuse to submit to one of these tests, your license could be suspended for up to one year, before you’re even convicted.
However, your attorney can help get you driving privileges to most places you need to travel within 30 days of your arrest. Also refusing the test, typically makes your case more defensible because there isn’t a scientific number the State can point to to prove intoxication.
Also if you do the test and blow over, it’s much more likely you’ll be convicted of an OVI, and your license will be immediately suspended for at least 90 days and at least 1 year if convicted..
Contact an Ohio DUI defense attorney
At Hiltner Trial Lawyers, it’s our mission to protect your rights and defend your future when you’re accused of a crime. We have helped countless people deal with DUI/OVI charges in the past, and we know how to make sure you get the best deal for your situation.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.