Cleveland DUI / OVI Lawyers

Protecting Your License, Freedom and Criminal Record – Ohio Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys

When you notice that you are about to be stopped on the way back from a Browns football game or a night in the Flats with friends or family, you might justifiably be concerned that a DUI | OVI conviction will cause a major disruption in your life. A conviction can result in minimum jail time, significant fines, suspension of your driver’s license, driver intervention programs, continuous alcohol monitoring (CAM), mandatory treatment programs, ignition interlock devices, impound or immobilization of your vehicle, electronically monitored house arrest (EHMA), restricted plates and/or probation.

Although these severe court imposed penalties might seem harsh, the consequences of a conviction for OVI/DUI can last long after the terms of your sentence have been satisfied. A misdemeanor criminal conviction can impair your educational aspirations, employment status, career goals and immigration status depending on the circumstances.

While a DUI/OVI conviction can derail your future, an arrest does not mean you will be convicted especially if you are represented by an experienced Cuyahoga County DUI/OVI defense attorney. Mr. Nash carefully reviews all law enforcement records, chemical testing results, field sobriety testing and other evidence to determine the most effective OVI defense strategy.

What is DUI | OVI under Ohio Law?

Ohio changed its drunk driving nomenclature in 2005 from the designation driving under the influence (DUI) to operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI). However, attorneys still generally refer to the offense as DUI because the term is more widely recognized and used by the public. The change in nomenclature was intended to more accurately reflect the acts that constitute a violation. The term “operate” clarifies that you do not necessarily need to be “driving” in the ordinary sense. If you are sitting in the driver seat of your vehicle with the keys in the ignition, this can justify a DUI | OVI arrest. The law also does not require you to be in a vehicle with a motor because you can receive a DUI even if you are riding a bicycle.

There are essentially two types of DUI or OVI offenses: (1) common law OVI and (2) OVI per se. Common law OVI refers to actual impairment of your driving ability when operating a vehicle. If your driving skills are actually impaired, you can be convicted of OVI even if the amount of alcohol or a particular drug in your system does not exceed the statutory limit. A conviction of OVI per se requires proof that a driver has a specified quantity of drugs or alcohol in his or her system at the time of the stop. A driver can be convicted of DUI per se, for example, if the motorist’s his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent or above based on a breath test. Drivers can be convicted of a “per se” offense even if their driving is flawless depending on the circumstances.

Handling a traffic stop

If you are stopped after you have been drinking, you can reduce the risk of an OVI conviction if you remain calm and follow certain steps. When the officer approaches your vehicle, you should have you driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance in your hands which should be placed in plain view on the steering wheel. This will prevent the officer from needing to worry about his safety and avoid a situation where you might look uncoordinated when you are trying to grab the documents.

The officer will attempt to engage you in a conversation, but you are not required to answer questions about your activities or whether you have been drinking. If you are asked these questions, you might simply respond that you are not comfortable answering any questions without legal advice. The officer’s questions serve two purposes. The officer is trying to elicit incriminating information and to observe you for signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech or the odor of alcohol on your breath. The less you say the better, but it is worth asking if you are free to leave because this will trigger constitutional rights that arise if you are “in custody.”

Finally, the officer will likely ask you to perform field sobriety tests. The purpose of these tests is to gather evidence to establish probable cause for an arrest. There is little to be gained by engaging in these “divided attention tasks” especially because the most accurate of these tests has been shown to falsely identify someone as impaired more than twenty percent of the time. While these suggestions probably will not prevent an OVI arrest, they will limit the evidence available to the prosecutor.

Call a Cuyahoga County OVI Defense Lawyer Today

If you are facing an OVI charge in Ohio, Cleveland drunk driving defense lawyer Joel A. Nash recognizes that it is s stressful time. Mr. Nash will attempt to ease your concerns by carefully explaining the process, potential penalties and appropriate defense strategies. We offer a free consultation, so we can explain your rights and answer your questions, so call us at (216) 691-3000 or email us.