The Stages of an Ohio OVI (DUI) Charge

OVI charges begin with a traffic stop and often proceed through roadside sobriety tests, breath tests, arraignments, motion hearings, and may culminate in a jury trial.  The DUI defense attorneys of Smith's Law Offices provide an overview of those steps here.

The Traffic Stop:

The police may stop you either through a reasonable suspicion stop or at a checkpoint.  At checkpoints, the police may regularly stop cars that pass and need not have any suspicions, though there are strict restrictions on how they choose who they stop.  Reasonable suspicion stops are those where the police must either see a problem with your vehicle, such as burnt out lights, or have a reasonable suspicion that you are breaking the law.  These reasonable suspicions often include crossing lines, swerving, speeding, driving with headlights off at night, failing to signal a lane change, running a red light, and such.  An experienced DUI attorney such as the those at Smith's Law Offices can put the State to the test – because if the police did not have sufficient reason to stop you in the first place, anything they found after, including the results of breath tests, may become inadmissible.

During the traffic stop, the police officer will make observations that may lead him to suspect you are under the influence.  He will use these observations to move forward with the OVI/DUI arrest and the prosecutor will use his observations during pretrials and trial.  The police will look for things such as bloodshot eyes, alcohol containers, slurred speech, the smell of alcohol or drugs, and of course what the driver and passengers say to him.

Your job during the traffic stop is to be polite, minimize conversation, never lie, but do not answer questions that would be incriminating.  If you do not want to answer a question, you might first attempt to change the conversation, such as asking the officer what you did wrong or how long you will be stopped.  If it becomes clear that the officer suspects you are intoxicated, tell him that you want to speak to an attorney before answering more questions.  Do not argue, as both prosecutors and juries will have little sympathy for an argumentative and disrespectful citizen.

Roadside Sobriety Tests (Field Sobriety Tests):

If the officer suspects that you have been drinking and are under the influence, he will ask you to get out of the vehicle and perform sobriety tests.  You should politely refuse to take the tests. The officer asking you to take the test is doing so because he already decided you are under the influence.  So guess how he is likely to score you?  Most likely not well.  His report, and perhaps video of you stumbling, may not be helpful at trial either. You do not have to take a field sobriety test, it is a losing game, so why help the officer build a case against you?  Do not argue - but do politely refuse.

These sobriety tests may include various standardized tests and non-standardized tests.  These tests are scored, but they are subjective and subject to weather conditions, the road conditions, and your own physical, mental, and coordination abilities.  The standardized tests may include the Horizontal Gaze Nysagmus, where the officer holds a pen or finger in front of your eyes as he watches for involuntary movement of the eye.  Another standardized test is the One Leg Stand Test, where the officer will ask you to stand on one leg and count as the other leg is raised about 6 inches off the ground.  The Walk and Turn Test involves walking nine steps, heal to toe, counting each step, turning and walking back in the same manner.  Each of these tests has rules for the officer as well as for you, are valid only when certain circumstances are met, and have rules with regard to how the instructions are given to you.  The OVI / DUI attorneys at Smith's Law Offices take the time to investigate how the tests were given to exclude any faulty test results from being used against you.

There are also various non-standardized test whose accuracy have not been determined to be sufficiently related to alcohol impairment, but the police officer may still ask you to complete some of them.  If you have not refused the field sobriety tests, you may be asked to touch your finger to your nose with your eyes closed and head tilted back, to count backward, to say portions of the alphabet, or to stand balanced with your feet together, head tilted back, eyes closed, and estimating when 30 seconds have passed.

Another test the police officer may ask you to take before arresting you is the Portable Breath Test.  This is NOT the Evidentiary Test discussed below, which would be given to you at a police station or medical facility.  You have every right to refuse the Portable Breath Test given in the field, without any implications to your license.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) describes the standardized field sobriety tests  (SFTS) in its manuals.  There was an update to the NHTSA manual in 2018 - https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/sfst_full_participant_manual_2018.pdf. NHTSA's web page at http://www.nhtsa.gov/Impaired also includes general information about enforcement.  Ohio has a manual for law enforcement located at http://www.publicsafety.ohio.gov/links/DPS0011.pdf

The Arrest:

If the officer believes he has sufficient information that you have violated OVI laws, he will arrest you.  That is, he will take you to jail where you will be asked to take an evidentiary blood alcohol test.  You will be held by the police until you post bail or are released on an own recognizance bond, which is a the legal way of saying that you are released without having to post bail.  During this entire process, you simply need to keep your mouth shut.  Do not assist the police in gathering their information against you.  If they have arrested you, it is inconceivable that you can say anything to help you at this point, though much of what you say will be used against you.  OVI charges are the same as DUI charges.  What used to be referred to as Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is now referred to as Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated (OVI) by the laws of Ohio.

The Evidentiary Test (Breath Test):

The police may attempt to test your blood alcohol content with a urine test, blood test, or much more likely with a breath test.  There are specific guidelines that are required for all of these tests.  There is no right answer to whether you should consent to the evidentiary test.  If you refuse, you will face a license suspension, but your lawyer may be able to avoid the OVI conviction.  If you take the test and score under, it will certainly help you, though the police officer may still charge you with an OVI or other offense.  Drivers with CDLs who refuse lose their CDL for a year, and if they refuse a second time they lose their CDL for life.  If you have prior OVI convictions or have refused in the past, a refusal today can affect you differently.  And more basically, it may depend on whether you had anything to drink and how much.  Generally speaking, it is appropriate to refuse if you have no other OVI convictions or refusals, do not carry a CDL, and would likely receive a high test if you did consent.

The rules with respect to giving these tests are extensive, related to how the test equipment is maintained, how often it is calibrated, how the calibration solution is maintained, the timing of the test must be within 3 hours of the violation but after a senior operator has observed you for twenty minutes, your mouth must be checked for any objects, and the Administrative License Suspension Form must be read to you before you decide whether to submit or refuse.  Additionally, challenges to the test may be made if you have certain health conditions, have belched or vomited during the observation period, if you have dentures or dental apparatus, and even if you are accused of refusing when you did not.

The Arraignment:

The arraignment is your initial appearance where you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest in court.  If you wish to challenge your OVI/DUI charge, you should enter a plea of not-guilty and inform the court that you will be obtaining a lawyer.  Better yet, contact a lawyer immediately after your arrest and the arraignment may be avoided by the lawyer filing a not-guilty plea and entering a notice of appearance.  If you cannot afford an attorney and qualify, you may also ask the court to appoint an attorney (i.e., public defender) to you.

The Administrative License Suspensions:

If an officer has reasonable grounds to believe you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a refusal to submit to the evidentiary test, or submitting but blowing over the limit, may result in an administrative license suspension (ALS) through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).  Depending on prior convictions and prior refusals, and the level of the test, these suspensions may be anywhere from 90 days to five years.  Administrative License Suspensions can be challenged, but you must do so immediately, and the Ohio DUI lawyers at Smith's Law Offices have the experience, knowledge, and skills to help you fight such ALS suspensions.

Suppression Hearings:

Evidence that was unlawfully or inappropriately obtained against you should be suppressed so the jury never sees or hears it.  This requires a motion to suppress be filed as well as a suppression hearing. The Ohio Judicial Conference published a Motion to Suppress Checklist that reviews some typical OVI suppression issues. Suppression hearings may have a significant impact on your case, if not lead to resolving it completely. The DUI attorneys at Smith's Law Offices can bring their experience and skills to put the State to the test through a suppression hearing.

Trial:

Not all attorneys are trial attorneys, in the sense that many attorneys do not go to trial at all.  They simply plea all of their cases, and even if faced with an occasional trial, they do not have the experience necessary to properly carry the case through trial.  The lawyers at Smith's Law Offices are not just Ohio DUI Lawyers, they are also Trial Lawyers ready, willing, and able to take your case through trial if needed.

Driving Privileges:

Much discretion is left to the trial court to issue driving privileges if your license has been suspended.  These are not limited to just driving back and forth to work, but may also include other daily activities such as driving to school, to doctor appointments, or taking your children to school or day care.

Recent Cases/News

Pot/Marijuana OVI Dismissed:
After raising issues with respect to the traffic stop, delays in discovery and with the urine test, the OVI was completely dismissed.
  
Norwalk Municipal Court
November 16, 2018
Refusal OVI Dismissed:
We persuaded the prosecutor and judge to agree to reduce OVI charges to a non-moving violation, saving our client from a year-long license suspension, points to his driver's license, high fines and jail.
  
Berea Municipal Court
November 1, 2018
Refusal OVI Dismissed:
Our client was saved from the implications of an OVI on their record and avoided jail time and high fines.
  
Ottawa County Municipal Court
October 24, 2018
OVI Dismissed:
Our client was saved from a lengthy license suspension, jail, a driver's intervention program and six points to his driving record.
  
Elyria Municipal Court
October 22, 2018
OVI Dismissed:
An OVI and five other charges were dismissed in exchange for a plea to a minor misdemeanor with a maximum $150 fine, no jail time, no drivers intervention program, no probation and no license suspension.
  
Euclid Municipal Court
October 18, 2018
Refusal OVI Dismissed:
With the OVI dismissed, our client was saved from a year's license suspension, points on her license, jail time, and high fines.
  
Sheffield Village Mayor's Court
October 18, 2018
Refusal OVI Dismissed:
Through negotiating with the prosecutor, an agreement was reached to dismiss an OVI charge against our client.
  
Ottawa County Municipal Court
October 12, 2018
Third in 10 OVI Reduced to First:
After extensive discussions regarding the applicability of two prior out-of-state OVI charges, it was agreed to treat this OVI charge as a first in 10, saving our client from a mandatory thirty days in jail.
  
Elyria Municipal Court
October 10, 2018
Second Lifetime OVI Dismissed:
After a great deal of work, the State agreed to dismiss OVI charges despite being a second lifetime OVI.
  
Berea Municipal Court
October 9, 2018
OVI, turn signal, marked lanes and seat-belt charges dismissed:
The state agreed to dismiss several charges, including an OVI, in exchange for a plea to a non-moving violation that avoided a license suspension entirely, high fines and points.
  
Cleveland Municipal Court
October 2, 2018
Physical Control Charge Dismissed:
Our client had originally been charged with an OVI, but after showing the court that the vehicle had not been moved/operated, the state attempted to bring a physical control charge several months later. We filed to dismiss the charges as violating speedy trial rights and the court agreed.
  
Euclid Municipal Court
September 24, 2018
OVI and Resisting Arrest Charges Dismissed:
In exchange for a plea to a non-moving violation and minor misdemeanor, saving our client from a license suspension, points to his driving record and mandatory jail time, we were able to get the following charges dismissed entirely: OVI, left of center, improper turn, weaving, seat belt violation and resisting arrest.
  
Berea Municipal Court
September 18, 2018
Rape- Kidnapping and Gross Sexual Imposition Convictions Reversed and Vacated By the Eighth District Court of Appeals:
The half-sister of our thirteen-year-old client tattled to her parents that our client said the word "suck." In the midst of discord between the parents, our client was ultimately charged with Rape and Kidnapping. The Appellate Court agreed with our arguments that the trial court erroneously permitted hearsay statements without any independent evidence to support those statements. It further agreed that, even with the hearsay, there was insufficient evidence to support the convictions. Our client's innocence was protected as the convictions were thrown out.
  
8th District Court of Appeals
August 24, 2018
OVI Dismissed:
Our client was pulled over for speeding but was charged with an OVI because she had spilt Taco Bell admitted to have two glasses of wine earlier in the day. The OVI was dismissed, accepting a non-moving violation saving her from a year license suspension, 6 points on her license and an OVI conviction that may have caused her problems with her nursing job.
  
Rocky River Municipal Court
July 26, 2018
OVI Dismissed:
Our client was pulled over for an expired license plate only to find himself charged for operative a vehicle while impaired because he admitted he had three drinks earlier in the day. We obtained a dismissal of the OVI with our client accepting a non-moving violation- saving himself from a license suspension.
  
Rocky River Municipal Court
July 26, 2018
OVI Dismissed:
After intensive negotiations, OVI charges were dismissed with our client pleading to just a non-moving violation instead.
  
Rocky River Municipal Court
July 12, 2018
OVI Dismissed:
After researching our clients case,- reviewing police reports and video, filing a suppression motion and attending a suppression hearing, further negotiations with the prosecutor led to a dismissal of OVI charges in exchange for an agreement to a plea to reckless op., thereby eliminating the license suspension and mandatory penalties that would have come with an OVI conviction.
  
Norwalk Municipal Court
June 28, 2018
Refusal OVI Dismissed:
Intensive negotiations with the prosecutor resulted in our client's OVI being dismissed in exchange for a plea to a non-moving violation.
  
Berea Municipal Court
June 19, 2018
Administrative License Suspension Vacated:
An administrative license suspension for a person with third OVI in ten years and who refused the breath test was vacated after showing that the ALS form was not properly filed with the court.
  
Vermilion Municipal Court
June 19, 2018
OVI Dismissed:
Court agreed to dismiss a refusal OVI in exchange for a plea to a non-moving violation.
  
Elyria Municipal Court
June 18, 2018
OVI and Open Container Charges Dismissed:
Charges were dismissed in exchange for plea to a reduced charge, saving our client from jail, higher fines and points.
  
Huron Municipal Court
June 1, 2018
Domestic Violence Charges Dismissed:
Charges brought as a result of a marital argument and slap were dismissed, saving our client from the loss of her professional license.
  
Huron Municipal Court
June 1, 2018
Breath Test OVI and License Suspension Dismissed:
OVI charges dismissed with an agreement to a non-moving violation, saving our client from high fines, points and a license suspension.
  
Sandusky County Municipal Court - Clyde
May 17, 2018
OVI Charges and License Suspension Dismissed:
The court agreed to dismiss breath test OVI charges and vacate the administrative license suspension in exchange to a plea to a lesser charge, saving our client from a suspension, reinstatement fees, large fines, and any jail time.
  
Sandusky Municipal Court
May 1, 2018
Breath Test OVI Dismissed:
As a result of our suppression motion challenging a traffic stop in a gated community, the court agreed to dismiss OVI charges in exchange for a reduction to a non-moving violation.
  
Ottawa County Municipal Court
April 13, 2018
2nd OVI With Refusal and Accident Dismissed:
After arguing suppression issues, the court agreed to reduce charges eliminating all mandatory jail time.
  
Norwalk Municipal Court
March 16, 2018
OVI With Breath Test Dismissed:
Prosecutor and court agreed with us to dismiss the OVI charges in exchange for a non-moving citation that protected our client from high fines, points to his license, and a year-long license suspension
  
Rocky River Municipal Court
March 15, 2018
OVI Dismissed:
OVI with an over-the-limit breath test dismissed in exchange for a non-moving violation thereby avoiding jail, license suspension, and points to our client's driving record.
  
Berea Municipal Court
March 13, 2018
OVI Charges Dismissed:
Court agreed to dismiss OVI charges for a plea to a non-moving violation, vacating the ALS, eliminating the reinstatement fee-, jail time and license suspension.
  
Sandusky Municipal Court
February 16, 2018
Drug OVI Dismissed:
Court agreed to dismiss an OVI based on levels of prescription meds in exchange for a reduced plea, vacating the ALS, eliminating the reinstatement fee, jail time and license suspension.
  
Sandusky Municipal Court
February 16, 2018
OVI Driving Under a Suspension and OVI Charges Dismissed:
Client was facing mandatory jail time for both charges; however- the court agreed to dismiss the charges and vacate the ALS in exchange for a reduced plea that saved our client from all jail time, a $475 reinstatement fee and a license suspension.
  
Sandusky Municipal Court
February 16, 2018
OVI Charges Dismissed:
The court agreed to dismiss charges and vacate the administrative license suspension to save our client from jail, from a reinstatement fee and a license suspension
  
Sandusky Municipal Court
February 16, 2018
OVI Suspension and Leaving the Scene Dismissed:
Through negotiations with the prosecutor, it was agreed that all charges should be dismissed.
  
Ottawa County Municipal Court
February 8, 2018
Second OVI Dismissed:
With the strength of a strong suppression motion and our being ready to go to hearing,- we were able to obtain a dismissal of second OVI charges in exchange for a non-moving violation.
  
Ottawa County Municipal Court
February 7, 2018
CDL Saved, OVI Dismissed:
We helped our client get their OVI and administrative license suspension dismissed,- saving our client's commercial driver's license and job.
  
North Royalton Mayor's Court
February 1, 2018
2nd Refusal OVI and Drug Paraphernalia Charges Dismissed:
Although facing a mandatory minimum of 20 days in jail, a dismissal and reduction saved our client from all jail time and avoided a year's license suspension.
  
Elyria Municipal Court
January 18, 2018
Drug OVI Charges Dismissed:
Although our client was charged with a refusal OVI alleging marijuana impairment and possession- a dismissal of the charges in exchange for a reduction saved our client from a year's license suspension,- jail time and the driver's intervention program.
  
Elyria Municipal Court
January 18, 2018
OVI Charges Dismissed:
After obtaining a reduction to a non-moving violation, our client avoided a license suspension, avoided jail time, and avoided the drivers intervention program.
  
Cleveland Municipal Court
January 17, 2018
OVI Refusal Charges Dismissed:
Our client was saved from a license suspension, jail time, and the drivers intervention program when we negotiated a dismissal of OVI charges in exchange for a plea to a reduced citation.
  
Olmsted Falls Mayors Court
January 16, 2018
OVI Charges Dismissed:
Upon filing a suppression motion challenging a traffic stop based on a tip that turned out to be inaccurate, OVI charges were dismissed in exchange for a plea to a non-moving violation.
  
Erie County Municipal Court
January 8, 2018
OVI Refusal Charges Dismissed:
OVI charges dismissed, saving our client who was not a US citizen potential VISA problems, and eliminated a license suspension.
  
Sandusky County Court - Woodville
January 3, 2018
OVI Refusal Charges Dismissed:
Administrative license suspension vacated and OVI charges dismissed in exchange for a minor misdemeanor plea with a small fine and no jail or DIP.
  
Elyria Municipal Court
December 4, 2017
OVI Charges Dismissed:
Client avoided a year long license suspension, jail time and the driver intervention program after we successfully obtained a dismissal of the OVI in exchange for a non-moving violation.
  
Rocky River Municipal
November 30, 2017
OVI Charges Dismissed:
Client avoided both jail time and the driver intervention program when we successfully obtained a dismissal of OVI charges.
  
Sandusky County Court - Clyde
November 21, 2017
OVI Charges with Accident Dismissed:
OVI charges against our client who fell asleep after taking prescription medications were dismissed.
  
Elyria Municipal Court
October 25, 2017
OVI Charges Dismissed:
OVI charges dismissed in exchange to a reckless op plea, resulting in our client receiving only a 90 day license suspension and $250 fine.
  
Ottawa County Municipal Court
October 20, 2017
OVI DUS Dismissed:
Although our client was charged with a driving under an OVI suspension, a first-degree misdemeanor with a mandatory 3-days of jail, we obtained a complete dismissal of the charges.
  
Rocky River Municipal Court
October 19, 2017
OVI Charges Dismissed:
OVI charges dismissed, with our client escaping a license suspension and mandatory minimums by pleading to a physical control charge with just at $250 fine.
  
Sandusky Municipal Court
October 17, 2017
OVI Charges Dismissed:
Despite our client having turned in front of a police officer and going off the road, the court agreed to dismiss OVI charges in exchange for a reckless op charges, saving our client from mandatory penalties and a license suspension.
  
Sandusky Municipal Court
October 17, 2017
ALS Appeal Granted:
The court agreed to vacate an administrative license suspension after it was shown that the police did not give the proper advisements.
  
Berea Municipal Court
September 26, 2017
0.229 OVI Dismissed:
High tier OVI dismissed with our client avoiding both jail time and a license suspension.
  
Painesville Municipal Court
September 18, 2017
Refusal OVI Charges Dismissed:
OVI dismissed in exchange for a non-moving violation with no jail, no drivers intervention program (DIP), and no license suspension.
  
Canton Municipal Court
August 28, 2017
OVI Charges Dismissed:
Negotiations with the prosecutor lead to a dismissal of all OVI charges, with our client receiving only a $50.00 fine for a traffic violation.
  
Rocky River Municipal Court
August 7, 2017
Second Refusal OVI Dismissed:
OVI charges dismissed in exchange for a reckless op plea, getting our client back to driving.
  
Sandusky Municipal Court
August 7, 2017
Sobriety Checkpoint OVI Dismissed:
After challenging the Constitutionality of a sobriety checkpoint, the court agreed to dismiss OVI charges.
  
Elyria Municipal Court
July 19, 2017
OVI Charges Based on Anonymous Tip Dismissed:
After asserting that a traffic stop based on an anonymous tip was an illegal search and seizure- the court agreed to dismiss OVI charges.
  
Mentor Municipal Court
July 19, 2017
OVI Refusal Charges Dismissed:
Despite charges of an OVI refusal, negotiations with the prosecutor resulted in a dismissal of the charge in exchange for a reckless op plea, saving our client from a years license suspension.
  
Bellevue Municipal Court
June 20, 2017
Hit and Skip Charges Dismissed:
On the day of trial, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss hit and skip charges, leaving only a $75.00 fine for assured clear distance.
  
Rocky River Municipal Court
May 16, 2017
OVI Charges Dismissed:
On the back of our suppression motion, OVI charges were dismissed in exchange for a non-moving violation.
  
Willoughby Municipal Court
May 16, 2017
Suppression Motion Leads to Complete Dismissal of OVI:
After raising several issues with respect to failures in the state's alcohol testing process, the court agreed to dismiss all OVI charges leaving only a minor traffic light ticket.
  
Painesville Municipal Court
May 2, 2017
OVI Charges Dismissed:
Another strong suppression motion led to a dismissal of OVI charges and reduction to a non-moving traffic violation, avoiding any jail-time and vacating the administrative license suspension.
  
Vermilion Municipal Court
April 11, 2017
OVI Charges Dismissed:
A suppression motion pointing out issues with the State's case lead to an agreement to dismiss OVI charges and accept a lesser charge with zero jail time and dismissal of the license suspension, saving our client his job.
  
Bedford Municipal Court
April 10, 2017
OVI Charges Dismissed:
Despite an officer's claim that he detected an odor of alcohol- slurred speech- an admission of drinking, and failed field sobriety tests; we raised substantial issues in a suppression motion that helped us obtain a dismissal of the OVI charges in exchange for a plea to a non-moving violation without any mandatory minimums.
  
Lyndhurst Municipal Court
March 27, 2017
2nd Lifetime OVI Charge with Refusal Dismissed:
Obtained a dismissal of an OVI despite a prior OVI conviction, and despite a refusal, after strategic discussions regarding weaknesses in the State's case led the prosecutor to agree to a reduced reckless op.
  
Huron Municipal Court
February 28, 2017
OVI Charges Dismissed:
Obtained a dismissal of an OVI, protecting our client from a record- suspension and jail time. Our client was happy we obtained a reduced reckless op plea- protecting their medical career.
  
Shaker Heights Municipal Court
February 27, 2017
Suppression Motion Leads to OVI Dismissal:
After filing a suppression motion, an agreement was reached to dismiss OVI charges in exchange for a reckless op plea - avoiding any jail time.
  
Ottawa County Municipal Court
February 24, 2017
OVI Charges Dismissed:
Obtained a dismissal of OVI charges for a client who also had a record of prior charges in exchange for an agreement to a plea of physical control.
  
Ottawa County Municipal Court
January 24, 2017
OVI Charges Dismissed:
Persuaded court to agree to dismiss OVI and other charges, protecting the client from fines- penalties- and a CDL disqualification, in exchange for an agreement to plea to a non-moving charge.
  
Vermilion Municipal Court
December 27, 2016

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20545 Center Ridge Road, Ste. 215
Rocky River, OH 44116
Phone: 800-641-1970
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