DUI stop and arrest process
DUI Attorney In Central Ohio
This page of the website is designed to give an overview of the process for OVI/DUI arrests, explain some of the rights you have, and illustrate how an attorney may assist you in Ohio OVI cases. Different terms are used for these offenses: OVI, DUI, OMVI, and DWI, but in Ohio they all mean the same thing, and the correct term is OVI. If you have been charged with an OVI, you have the right to be represented by an attorney.
An O.V.I. charge generally starts with a police officer pulling you over for a traffic stop. The officer may be pulling you over for a number of reasons. The officer may have observed driving that makes the officer believe you are intoxicated; the officer may have received a "tip" that you are intoxicated; the officer may have observed a simple traffic violation such as speeding; the officer may have observed an equipment violation such as a burned out headlight; or maybe you were involved in an accident.
If an officer signals for you to pull over, do so safely, then have your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance ready to give to the officer. When the officer approaches your vehicle and interacts with you, the officer will be making observations. The most common observation that leads to further investigation is the odor of alcohol. The officer will also be observing the condition of your eyes, the manner of your speech, your coordination when providing your license, your attitude, the condition of your clothes, and other factors. If the officer has reason to believe you have been drinking, the officer will probably ask you to get out of the car to perform coordination tests.
Field sobriety tests are designed to assist the officer in determining whether you are under the influence. The most common field sobriety tests are the walk and turn (walk nine steps, turn, walk nine steps back), the one leg stand (stand on one leg for thirty seconds), and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (follow a pen or other object with your eyes). You are not legally required to perform these tests. There are pros and cons to taking the tests and refusing the tests. You should be aware that many traffic stops are now recorded by video cameras in police cruisers .
If the officer concludes there is probable cause to believe you were operating a vehicle under the influence (O.V.I.), the officer will place you under arrest. You will then be transported to the police station. During the interaction with you, the police officer will likely question you about the incident (e.g., where have you been, how much did you drink, etc...). You have the right to remain silent; you do not have to talk to the police. If you choose not to talk to the police, you should tell the officer politely that you do not want to discuss the incident until you consult with an attorney. An attorney can advise you about whether to talk with officers and can talk with them on your behalf.
At the police station, you will be requested to provide a sample of your breath, blood, or urine for chemical tests to determine the level of alcohol in your blood. You may refuse the tests. Refusing the test, or testing over the legal limit, will result in an immediate suspension of your license by the BMV called an Administrative License Suspension (ALS).
The legal limit for persons 21 and over is: .08 for breath; .08 for blood; and .11 for urine (there are also legal limits for certain drugs). There are (at least) two separate offenses with which you may be charged: (1) driving with a prohibited alcohol or drug level; and (2) driving "under the influence" of alcohol or drugs. If you test above the legal limit, you will likely be charged with both offenses. If you test below the legal limit, or if you refuse the test, you may still be charged with the second offense.
Before submitting to a test or refusing at test, consider the following possible outcomes :
- If you take the test and the result is over the prohibited amount: (a) your license will be suspended for 90 days (or longer if you have prior DUI convictions); and (b) the prosecution will use the results of the test against you in court;
- If you take the test and the result is under the legal limit: (a) your license will not be suspended; and (b) the results of the test will not be damaging in court, but you may still be charged with OVI/DUI;
- If you refuse the test: (a) your license will be suspended for one year (or longer if you have previous convictions or refusals); and (b) the prosecution will not have any test results to use against you in court.
NOTE: It is unlawful for certain people to refuse the breath test (or other chemical tests). Ohio law makes it illegal for a person to refuse the breath test if that person has been convicted of OVI (or an equivalent offense) in the last 20 years. In addition, commercial drivers face additional consequences for refusing chemical tests. Also, for a person on probation for OVI, it may be a violation of probation to refuse a chemical test.
If you are charged with an OVI, you will also probably face immediate impoundment of your vehicle. If your vehicle is impounded, make sure you obtain from the police the location of the vehicle and a telephone number to contact the towing company or impound lot. If this is your first offense, you will probably be able to pick up your vehicle the next day (but you will need someone else to drive it if your license was suspended). If this is a second offense or more, you will probably not be able to pick up your vehicle until a judge issues a court order to release the vehicle. An attorney can assist you in obtaining release of your car.
Contact a Columbus, Ohio DUI OVI Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with DUI in central Ohio, contact the criminal defense law office of Shawn R. Dominy, Attorney at Law for an initial consultation about your case.