OVI / DUI With Accident In Ohio
Being involved in an auto accident can be traumatic. Being charged with DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) after the accident makes it even worse. If you are in that position, your mind is probably racing with questions, like “how bad is this?” and “is there a way to make it better?”. The short answer is: accidents can make OVI sentences worse, but a good Ohio DUI / OVI lawyer can help make the outcome better. This page provides a more detailed explanation.
Sentences For DUI / OVI With Accident
When a judge determines what sentence to impose in an Ohio DUI / OVI case, the judge considers aggravating factors and mitigating factors. An auto accident is an aggravating factor which results in the offense being categorized as ‘more serious’. As OVI convictions have mandatory minimum sentences, an aggravating factor suggests the defendant is not a good candidate for the minimum sentence. For example, a first-offense OVI carries a minimum jail term of three days (or a Driver Intervention Program) and a minimum driver license suspension of one year. If the case involves an accident, a judge may be inclined to impose a sentence which involves more than the minimum jail term and more than the minimum license suspension.
The effect of an accident on the sentence depends, in part, on the extent of the harm caused by the accident. Not all accidents are the same. Some involve little or no damage to property, and others involve extensive property damage. Some involve no injuries, while others involve serious physical harm or death. If an OVI results in serious physical harm or death, there will also be charges of Aggravated Vehicular Assault or Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, which are discussed in the Serious Vehicular Crimes section of this website.
Civil Lawsuit Arising From DUI / OVI Case
In addition to the OVI charge, a case involving an accident can result in a civil lawsuit. The criminal charge and the civil suit are separate cases. For example, OJ Simpson was found Not Guilty in the criminal case but guilty (‘liable’) in the civil case because the criminal and civil cases are separate.
In OVI cases with accidents, the concern for civil liability depends on the extent of the harm caused. If the harm is limited to minor property damage, the judge in the OVI case will order payment of restitution to the property owner to repair or replace the damaged property. In such a case, there likely would not be a civil suit, assuming the restitution is paid. If, however, the accident resulted in bodily harm, or if restitution is not paid for property damage, a civil suit is more likely. If there is a civil lawsuit, a guilty verdict or guilty plea in the OVI case can be used against the defendant in the civil lawsuit.
Improving The Outcome Of An Accident OVI Case
Working with a good DUI / OVI lawyer can improve the outcome of the case. A thorough investigation, sometimes including witness interviews and accident investigation/reconstruction, may show you were not at fault for the accident. Challenging field sobriety tests, breath/blood/urine tests, and officer testimony may result in evidence being excluded. The admissible evidence may leave the prosecution with difficulty proving you were ‘under the influence’ or ‘over the limit’. Contesting the case gives you an opportunity to make the outcome better.
While contesting the case, you can also take steps to decrease the severity of the sentence. Just as an accident is considered an aggravating factor, there are circumstances which are considered mitigating factors. A good DUI / OVI lawyer will help you develop mitigation evidence and present it to the judge.
Representation For DUI / OVI With Accident
These cases are more complex than an average OVI case. Due to the more complicated evidence, the enhanced sentencing, and the concern for civil liability, it is crucial to find good legal representation. The attorneys at the Dominy Law Firm have expertise in DUI / OVI defense and experience with OVI accident cases. If you have an OVI case involving an accident in central Ohio, you can schedule a free phone consultation with our lawyers by submitting a CONTACT FORM or by calling 614-717-1177.