You find yourself finally free after a long shift in one of "America's Best Hospitals." After work, you and your gang go to South Park Tavern. After a few drinks and live music, you're finally ready to drive home. Unfortunately, SPT's calzone didn't soak up the craft beer like you planned, and one of Dayton's finest took notice. You've been caught operating under the influence.
If you've been in this situation, or something similar, you know how stressful it can be. FindLaw has crafted this guide to OVI offenses in Dayton to help you get back to the more tolerable stresses of work and choosing a calzone to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
Two Types of Alcohol Offenses
Ohio law makes it illegal to operate a vehicle while "under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them." This offense is known as "OVI."
The law has a separate offense for merely having physical control of the vehicle while under the influence (Physical Control). Drivers in the Buckeye State are not allowed to sit in the driver's seat, while in possession of the ignition key, even if the car isn't moving. For future reference, if you have to "sleep one off," give your keys to someone else, or place them somewhere other than the passenger compartment of your car.
Both OVI and Physical Control offenses become more serious with multiple convictions and heightened levels of intoxication. Many legal professionals recommend that you talk with a lawyer to see how your level of intoxication and prior convictions may affect your current charges.
Both OVI and and Physical Control crimes are misdemeanors for first-time offenders. For your purposes, the difference lies in the minimum sentence. Under Ohio law, a driver found to be OVI must serve at least three days in jail. Meanwhile, a driver caught with Physical Control will not face a minimum sentence. This article focuses on the OVI offense.
Traffic Stop and Arrest
Administrative License Suspension
When a law enforcement officer suspects a driver of OVI, the officer may request a chemical test of the driver's blood, breath, or urine. Every driver in the state is considered to have given consent for such a test, and there is a penalty for refusing. If you comply with the officer's request, and test positive for excessive alcohol or drug use, the officer may confiscate your license and suspend it on the spot. The length of suspension will vary depending on the present circumstances, but you can expect a term of at least 90 days.
Appealing the Suspension
A driver whose license has been suspended under the above procedure can appeal the suspension. If your license was suspended, you may appeal either at your initial court appearance or within thirty (30) days of your initial appearance, which usually occurs within five (5) days of arrest. Note, however, your appeal will not temporarily lift the suspension. The exact law and procedure for this kind of appeal is complex. Many defendants prefer to hire an attorney with special expertise in this area of the law.
In Dayton, individuals arrested for OVI are generally taken to the Montgomery County Jail. You can search for inmates on the jail's website. You may post bond 24 hours a day in the lobby. To check the bond amount, call (937) 224-8447. For more information, see FindLaw's page on criminal law in Dayton.
The Consequences of a Conviction
The exact circumstances of an OVI conviction will vary, and so will the consequences. First-timers can expect a jail stay of three (3) days to six (6) months. Courts often require drivers to participate in an alcohol/drug intervention program. In any event, a first time offender will also have to pay a fine of $375 to $1,075.
The jail sentence, license suspension term, and fine amount can increase significantly with prior offenses. Courts may later charge drivers with felony offenses (PDF) -- serious crimes punishable by more than six months in jail -- and immobilize or impound the driver's vehicle(s). See page four (4) of the Ohio legislature's summary of OVI law, which features a chart describing incarceration, fines, suspensions, and other consequences of a conviction. The laws frequently change, so talk to an attorney for the most up-to-date information.
Driver Intervention Programs
There are several intervention programs for offending drivers in the Dayton area. See the Ohio Driver Intervention Program Directory online. Click the box for Montgomery County to see a current list of programs.
Limited Driving Privileges and License Reinstatement
In some cases, courts have the authority to grant limited driving privileges to drivers convicted of OVI. If this happens in your case, you may only drive for work, school, medical, or rehabilitative purposes. At their discretion, courts may order you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) before it will grant your privileges. The IID will prevent your car from operating unless you first provide a clean breath sample. See the State's list of certified IID installers (PDF) for service in Dayton.
Generally, drivers must pay all fees related to the OVI conviction before his/her license will be reinstated. Contact the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for an accurate account of what you owe in fees. If you cannot pay, contact the court in your area to request a fee payment plan. You may receive limited driving privileges while on the plan, but you must pay at least $50 per month.
This has been a brief summary of an OVI case. For detailed information about how the law affects your case, you may want to contact a Dayton DUI attorney.