In Ohio, DUI—technically called an Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI) charge—becomes aggravated under certain serious circumstances, indicating a more severe violation than a standard OVI. This elevated charge, known as aggravated OVI, has severe consequences.
If you are facing these charges, always consult an Ohio OVI defense attorney as soon as possible.
Definition of Aggravated OVI
An aggravated OVI is charged in Ohio when certain aggravating factors are present, elevating the severity of the offense. The most common scenarios leading to an aggravated OVI charge include:
High Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
If authorities find a driver with a BAC of 0.17 percent or higher, which is more than twice the standard legal limit of 0.08 percent, they can be charged with aggravated OVI.
This high BAC level indicates significant impairment, which warrants more serious legal repercussions. Known as a high tier OVI, this category reflects the increased danger posed by such a high level of impairment.
Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test
If a driver refuses to undergo a chemical test, such as a Breathalyzer, when suspected of OVI, this can lead to an aggravated OVI charge. Refusing a test is an aggravating factor because it hinders law enforcement’s ability to assess the driver’s level of impairment accurately.
Prior OVI Conviction
Having a history of OVI convictions also contributes to the severity of the charge. A driver with a prior OVI conviction within the past ten years faces higher penalties, as this history indicates a pattern of risky behavior and disregard for traffic safety laws.
Driving with a Minor in the Vehicle
Operating a vehicle under the influence with a child under 18 years of age as a passenger is another factor that can elevate an OVI to aggravated status. This is particularly egregious because it endangers the safety of a minor.
Causing an Accident with Serious Injuries or Fatalities
If an impaired driver causes an accident that results in serious injuries or fatalities, Ohio categorizes this situation under aggravated OVI. This scenario reflects a higher degree of danger and recklessness, as the impaired driving has directly led to harm to others.
Penalties for Aggravated OVI
The penalties for aggravated Operating a Vehicle Impaired in Ohio are significantly more severe than those for standard OVI offenses, reflecting the state’s serious consideration of these violations.
In terms of incarceration, the penalties aim to serve as a deterrent. A high-level or refusal OVI with a prior conviction within the past 20 years sets the minimum jail time at six days. This can be a straight jail sentence or a combination of three days in a Driver Intervention Program (DIP) and three days in jail.
The maximum incarceration period for such offenses can extend to six months, demonstrating the state’s commitment to penalizing severe OVI offenses.
Furthermore, offenders may be placed on probation for up to five years, allowing continued monitoring and intervention to prevent future offenses.
Financial penalties also form a part of the consequences. Fines for aggravated OVI can range from $375 to $1,075. Additionally, offenders may face a license reinstatement fee of $475.00, adding to the financial burden of an aggravated OVI conviction.
License suspension is another aspect of the penalties for aggravated OVI. The suspension period ranges from one to three years, with no driving privileges allowed during the first 15 days (or 30 days in case of a refusal to submit to a chemical test). This suspension is a punitive measure to protect the public by keeping potentially dangerous drivers off the roads.
Sometimes, the court may offer options that can modify the standard penalties. These include the installation of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) or the use of restricted plates.
An IID is a Breathalyzer-like device connected to a vehicle’s ignition system, halting the vehicle from starting if the driver’s breath contains detected alcohol. This tool is particularly useful in preventing repeat offenses by ensuring the individual cannot operate the vehicle under the influence.
Restricted plates, often yellow and red, serve as a visible indicator of the driver’s OVI history, further deterring impaired driving and alerting law enforcement and the public to the driver’s previous offenses.
The penalties for aggravated OVI in Ohio are a testament to the state’s commitment to road safety and its strict approach to dealing with severe instances of impaired driving.
These measures, ranging from incarceration and fines to license suspension and the use of IIDs, aim to deter such behavior, rehabilitate offenders, and ensure the safety of all road users. For anyone facing these charges, seeking legal assistance is advisable.
Non-Expungement of OVI Convictions
In Ohio, the legal consequences of an OVI conviction, especially an aggravated one, are not limited to immediate penalties like fines, jail time, or license suspension.
One of the most significant and long-lasting impacts of such a conviction is its permanency on an individual’s criminal record, which can affect many aspects of their life.
Permanence of OVI Convictions on Criminal Records
An OVI/DUI conviction in Ohio results in a permanent criminal record. This holds for both misdemeanor and felony DUI convictions. Misdemeanor offenses, which typically cover most DUI convictions, remain on an individual’s criminal record indefinitely and are not eligible for expungement. This means they cannot be sealed or removed from the criminal record.
Felony DUI convictions, often resulting from more severe offenses, also typically remain permanently on one’s criminal record. In Ohio, the law specifically prohibits the expungement of DUI or OVI convictions, including any type of traffic offense.
Implications of a Permanent Criminal Record
The implications of having a permanent OVI/DUI conviction on one’s record extend far beyond the immediate legal penalties.
- Employment and Background Checks: Many employers conduct background checks during hiring. A DUI conviction can adversely affect job prospects, as it may raise concerns about a candidate’s judgment and reliability. This can hurt if you work in industries where driving is a significant part of the job.
- Professional Licensing: Certain professions that require licensing, such as legal, healthcare, or teaching professions, might view a DUI conviction as a serious concern. It can create obstacles in obtaining and renewing professional licenses, potentially impacting career opportunities and advancement.
- Housing and Rental Applications: Landlords and rental agencies often conduct background checks. A DUI conviction can make securing housing or rental agreements more challenging; perceiving it as a marker of irresponsibility or unreliability is common.
Sealing Driver Abstracts
While Ohio does not allow the deletion of the actual DUI/OVI conviction record, driver abstracts can be ordered and sealed.
This can lower insurance rates, as insurance companies will not see the record after three years. However, this does not remove the conviction from the criminal record but limits its visibility to certain entities, like insurance providers.
The Importance of Legal Assistance
Given the permanent nature of a DUI/OVI conviction on a criminal record in Ohio and its wide-ranging implications, individuals facing such charges must seek legal assistance.
An experienced OVI/DUI lawyer can provide guidance and potentially assist in mitigating the charges or their impact. They can offer insight into the legal process, potential defense strategies, and how to manage the long-term consequences of a conviction.
Out-of-State OVI Convictions
If you are an Ohio driver arrested for OVI in another state, you will face the legal processes and penalties of the state where the offense occurred, not Ohio’s.
For example, authorities will prosecute you under Kentucky’s laws if you get arrested in Kentucky. These laws govern the specifics of your case, including the penalties you face.
The penalties for driving under the influence can differ significantly from state to state. For instance, in Kentucky, a first-time offender might face up to 30 days in jail, fines, a substance abuse treatment program, and community service.
However, your arrest and potential conviction in another state can still affect your driving privileges in Ohio due to the Interstate Driver License Compact, which allows states to share information about DUI convictions.
If another state convicts you of an OVI, that state will report the conviction to Ohio’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). As a result, state law compels the Ohio BMV to take action on your driving privileges in such cases. The consequence for this type of out-of-state violation typically includes a Class D suspension of your driving privileges in Ohio, which lasts for six months, starting 21 days after you receive official notice.
In addition to the legal ramifications, you will need to deal with practical considerations. If you are out on bail, you might be allowed to return to Ohio, but you will need to travel back to the state where the offense occurred for court hearings.
The Ohio BMV will mail a notice of the suspension to the address listed on your driver’s license. Keep your address updated on your license, as you may not receive notice otherwise and might otherwise inadvertently drive under suspension.
You might also appeal the suspension, but the scope of an appeal is limited. Contesting the suspension involves challenging whether you were convicted of or pleaded guilty to the offense.
Finally, in Ohio, you can apply for limited driving privileges under this suspension. To do this, you must apply in the municipal court that has jurisdiction where you reside. The municipal court can grant privileges for employment, medical, educational, and child-care needs, similar to what the statute would authorize had the OVI conviction occurred in Ohio.
Use of Expert Witnesses in OVI Cases
Expert witnesses in OVI cases typically include toxicologists or accident reconstructionists, each bringing a specialized knowledge set that can significantly influence the prosecution’s and defense’s arguments.
Toxicologists are often called upon in OVI cases to provide professional opinions on the effects of alcohol or drugs on an individual’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
Their experience is particularly relevant in cases where the defendant’s BAC is a key point of contention.
A toxicologist can offer insights into how various levels of BAC might affect a person’s motor skills, judgment, and reaction times. They can also provide valuable information on the metabolism of alcohol or drugs in the body, which can aid in determining whether the accused was under the influence at the time of the incident.
This testimony can either support the prosecution’s claim that the driver was indeed impaired or help the defense counter these claims by providing alternative explanations for the BAC level or demonstrating how it might not have significantly impaired the driver.
Accident reconstructionists, conversely, are specialists in understanding and explaining the dynamics of a vehicle collision.
In cases where an OVI incident has led to an accident, these skilled individuals use their knowledge of physics, vehicle dynamics, and road conditions to reconstruct the accident scene.
Their analyses can provide insights into the accident’s cause, the vehicle’s speed, the point of impact, and other critical details. This information can be essential in establishing the sequence of events leading to the accident and determining the extent of the accused’s responsibility.
For instance, if the reconstructionist’s analysis indicates that the accidents can have occurred even with a sober driver, the defense might use this to mitigate the charges or penalties.
Conversely, if the analysis strongly indicates that the driver’s impairment was a key factor in causing the accident, it will likely strengthen the prosecution’s case.
The testimony of these expert witnesses is often a deciding factor in the court’s verdict in OVI cases. Their ability to provide an objective, scientific interpretation of evidence means judges and juries highly regard their input.
Using expert witnesses can be a complex and strategic aspect of an OVI case. The prosecution and defense must carefully consider how their testimonies will impact the jury’s perception and the overall direction of the case.
The Effect of an OVI on Insurance Premiums
Insurance premiums essentially reflect the perceived risk associated with insuring a driver.
Factors influencing the cost of auto insurance include the type and age of the car, the frequency and distance of vehicle use, the state where the vehicle operates, and the driver’s age, gender, marital status, credit history, and, critically, their driving history.
An OVI conviction is considered a high-risk entry on a driving record. Insurance companies view DUI/OVI as one of the riskiest driving behaviors, associated with a higher likelihood of crashes compared to other driving behaviors.
This increased risk perception stems from statistical data showing that impaired driving elevates the probability of accidents. Consequently, insurance companies, in assessing risk, will factor in this conviction when calculating premiums.
The process of adjusting premiums occurs during the annual renewal of an auto insurance policy. At this time, the insurance company reviews the driving records of policyholders.
In Ohio, these records, provided by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, cover the past three years. When an insurance provider sees a DUI/OVI conviction, Insurers consider it for premium calculations.
Contact an Ohio OVI Lawyer
Aggravated OVI in Ohio is a serious matter with significant legal ramifications. If you find yourself in this situation, seek a skilled DUI lawyer to address the charges.