In Ohio, when a person is facing charges for driving under the influence (DUI) or operating a vehicle impaired (OVI), there is a natural belief that the arrest can only be made if the vehicle was moving at the time. However, there is another area of the law that can warrant an arrest simply because the allegedly impaired driver was accused of being in physical control of the vehicle while under the influence. Understanding this is essential to knowing how to create a legal defense to avoid a conviction.
Understanding physical control and its penalties
A person will be legally in physical control of a vehicle if they are behind the wheel in the front seat and have the keys or another device to start the ignition. According to the law, a person cannot be in control of a vehicle if they are under the influence of alcohol, drugs of abuse or a combination. When they are tested, they must meet the level of alcohol or drugs in the system under the law to be deemed under the influence.
Law enforcement officers can give field sobriety tests to a person who was believed to have been in physical control of the vehicle while under the influence. The officer can testify that the tests were given; the prosecutor in the case can admit the evidence from those tests; and if the evidence is found to be admissible, then it can be admitted. This is a first-degree misdemeanor. The driver’s license can subsequently be suspended.
People cannot be charged under this law for being under the influence of a controlled substance if they have a prescription for the substance and it was used under the direction of a health professional.
Defending against DUI/OVI for being in control of a vehicle requires professional help
DUI and OVI are charges that can happen to anyone. Often, it is people who have had no experience with being in trouble with the law in any way who find themselves in this situation and they are unsure of how to handle it. Not only are they worried about their driver’s license status, but they are thinking about fines, jail time, disfavor in the community, being cast in a negative light with their family and more. Many might think about simply accepting the charge and the penalties and moving on. This is often a mistake.
There are viable strategies to fight DUI and OVI. If it was a prescription drug, then this could result in the charges being dismissed based on the law. Perhaps the driver was not under the influence but appeared to be. The officer might have been overzealous in the investigation and made the arrest without sufficient cause. There could have been issues with the testing and procedures could have been violated.
People must understand the value of a strong and aggressive defense. This could call the case into question and lead to an acquittal with no penalties. From the start, it is imperative for drivers who are dealing with this situation to have assistance. Consulting with experienced legal professionals who are skilled with various forms of criminal defense can be crucial to reaching a good outcome.