In Ohio, there is a natural and understandable presumption among drivers that if they are simply sitting in a vehicle and are approached by law enforcement, they will not be charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
However, despite the vehicle not moving and it not technically being a drunk “driving” incident, they can still be confronted with penalties. This is known as a physical control suspension and while it is not as serious as an OVI charge, it can still be problematic. Knowing this law and forging a defense can be essential to try and avoid the accompanying penalties.
Understanding the law for physical control suspensions
A driver who is caught sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle while having the keys in their possession can be charged with being in physical control of the vehicle while under the influence. This is true even if they were not driving and had no intention of driving. They could simply be sitting in the parking lot of a fast food establishment after a night out while a companion went inside to make an order.
In these cases, their blood or breath will be tested to determine their blood alcohol concentration just as it would during a traffic stop in which they were suspected for OVI. If law enforcement officers have given a field sobriety test to this person and there is clear and convincing evidence that they complied with the testing procedures, the officer will be required to give testimony about the results. The test results can be admitted by the prosecution as part of the case. Once the evidence is deemed admissible, the court can consider it as it makes its determination.
People who are found guilty of being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. The court can give a class seven suspension of their driver’s license, which can be for up to one year.
Respected legal assistance may help with these charges
Although these cases might seem difficult to combat, there may be options available to avoid the suspension. From the outset, it is useful to have help from professionals who have defended thousands of people who were charged with DUI/OVI.
The key to a case may be assessing the evidence and finding gaps that could be used to reduce the charges or have them dismissed completely. Perhaps the investigating officer violated protocol in some way. The person who was accused of being in control of the vehicle might not have been under the influence. The entire basis of the case could be questionable.
Calling those who are respected in the legal community and have courtroom experience while knowing how to negotiate with prosecutors can make a major difference in reaching a positive result. This is especially worrisome for people who need their vehicles to get to work or school. Anyone dealing with these charges should have immediate help.