Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers!

We know you’ve got questions and hopefully, you’ll find most of the answers below. They are presented in a series of very short video clips, so please browse the questions below and watch the videos for the answers! And of course, if there are still some questions you may have, please don’t hesitate to call us or submit your additional questions below.

Can a DUI conviction ever be removed from my record?

A: No. An OVI / DUI conviction will go on your Ohio driving record and stay on your record essentially forever.  However, Driver Abstracts (the record available to your insurance company) generally only go back three years.  You cannot expunge or seal an Ohio OVI conviction.

What happens at my first court appearance?

A: At your first court appearance, the court will inform you of the charges against you and the possible penalties. If your charges are misdemeanors, you will have an opportunity to enter a plea. The pleas available to you are Not Guilty, Guilty or No Contest. If you plead guilty or no contest, the judge will probably convict you and proceed to sentence you. If a plea of Not Guilty is entered, a bond will be set, and your case will be rescheduled for a pretrial conference, for your attorney to investigate and evaluate your case.

What is a pre-trial?

A: At a pretrial, your attorney and the prosecutor will meet to discuss your case. You must be present in court for a pretrial. Discovery materials may be exchanged at a pretrial, and the judge will sometimes inquire about the status of the case.

Do I have to talk to the police?

A: In almost all instances, it is advisable to speak with an attorney before saying anything to the police. You must clearly indicate your wish to meet with an attorney, and, then, you must not say anything until you have been able to do so.

What is a bond?

A: Bonds are conditions imposed upon individuals with charges pending before a court. There are several different kinds of bonds and conditions. Some charges allow personal signature bonds. Some require cash or surety bonds. A personal signature bond does not require you to post any money. A cash or surety bond does.

What is a preliminary hearing?

A: At a preliminary hearing in a felony case, the prosecutor must present enough evidence to convince the judge that probable cause exists for your case to be bound over or transferred to the felony court for consideration by a Grand Jury. Probable cause is a lower standard of proof, and in most instances, felony cases are bound over.

What happens after a preliminary hearing if the judge finds probably cause?

A: After a preliminary hearing, it is likely that your felony case will be presented to a Grand Jury which may issue a True Bill Indictment or a No Bill. An Indictment contains the criminal charges the Grand Jury found to be appropriate in your case. A trial judge will be assigned, and he or she will, then, preside over your case until its conclusion. Many cases resolve with a plea bargain agreement, while others proceed to trial.

What is an OVI/DUI? (O.R.C. 4511.19)

A: In Ohio, OVI stands for Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs. It used to be called Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, because the statute required a person to be in the act of driving to be charged.  Now, it only requires operation, which means that a person moved or caused movement of a vehicle.  As a matter of fact, the vehicle doesn’t even have to be running if you are in the driver’s seat and the keys are within reach.  The Court will look for specific facts to prove that you actually operated the vehicle. If it can be reasonably inferred (either through direct or circumstantial evidence) that you operated a vehicle while impaired, you can be charged with OVI.

What is physical control? (O.R.C. 4511.194)

A: Physical Control is similar to an OVI in that they are both motor vehicle violations involving impairment by alcohol or drugs, but Physical Control does not require proof that a person moved the vehicle. A Physical Control violation will typically be charged when a person is found in a bar parking lot sleeping it off in their vehicle.  The vehicle does not have to be running or even have the keys in the ignition in order to be charged with a Physical Control.  Under the statute, being positioned in the driver seat and having the keys within reach will satisfy the definition of having “physical control” of the vehicle.

I only took my prescribed medications. Can I still be charged with OVI?

A: Yes. Any drug that requires a prescription is considered a drug of abuse in Ohio. If the drug in your system, even when taken according to doctors orders, caused an appreciable degree of impairment, you can be charged with OVI.

What are field sobriety tests?

A: Field sobriety tests are tools used by law enforcement officers to detect signs of impairment. While there are many tests an officer might have someone perform, only three have been recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as being scientifically reliable indicators or impairment. Those are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (commonly referred to as the “Pen Test”), the Walk and Turn test, and the One Leg Stand test. A trained police officer is taught to look for specific clues in each test to determine whether or not you are impaired.

I think I passed the field sobriety test. Why was I charged with OVI?

A: Some people believe they passed the field sobriety tests before they were arrested. Many police departments have videos that can be reviewed to determine whether or not the police officers administered the tests according to their training. A video may show whether or not the clues or indicators outlined above are apparent. A Motion to Suppress may be filed if any factors exist that would invalidate the tests results.

I took the breath test. Is it still possible to fight my OVI?

A: Breath-test cases require knowledge of the machine, familiarity with the Ohio Department of Health regulations that regulate the maintenance and use of the breath-testing machine, and certain other physical factors that may affect the results. If there are any issues with a breath test, it must be challenged through a motion to suppress. If that motion to suppress is successful, the breath test results will not be admissible at trial.

I have not been convicted yet, so why is my license suspended?

A: When you have been charged with an OVI, the BMV will issue what is called an administrative license suspension, or ALS. It will be triggered in two instances: where a person submits to a chemical test and registers a prohibited alcohol concentration; or where a person refuses to submit to chemical testing. The ALS is subject to appeal.

If my license is suspended, will I be able to get any kind of driving privileges?

A: Limited driving privileges may be available to you if your license is suspended and you had a valid Ohio Driver License at the time of your suspension. Typically, there is some amount of waiting period before your eligibility.

I have a commercial driver's license. What are the consequences and when can I drive again?

A: If you are convicted of an OVI / DUI offense, your CDL will be suspended for one year.  This is true, even if you were NOT driving a commercial vehicle at the time of your offense.  For a second OVI / DUI conviction, your CDL will be revoked for life.  While you may get limited driving privileges for a personal vehicle, you CANNOT obtain any privileges to operate a commercial vehicle.

I was arrested at an OVI checkpoint. Is that legal?

A: Generally speaking, OVI / DUI checkpoints are authorized in Ohio so long as the police give advance notice of the checkpoint. The police department running the checkpoint must follow certain requirements in order for the checkpoint to be valid.

Still Have a Question?

Let us know if you still have a question after viewing the video’s above. If so, submit your questions below, or call us to discuss your legal needs.

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