What is Drunk Driving (DUI-OVI) in Ohio?

We are DUI-OVI attorneys with offices in Mansfield and Mount Vernon, Ohio and offer free DUI consultations.

In Ohio, DUI and OVI both refer to operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is the most often used, but Operating a Vehicle While Impaired (OVI) means the same thing. Call today for a free consultation with one of our experienced drunk driving (DUI-OVI) defense attorneys.

In 2003, Ohio law was changed to remove the condition that the vehicle must be motorized. The acronym used today is OVI. This means it is a crime to operate any type of vehicle while impaired including bicycles, trolleys and horse-drawn carriages. Vehicles that are excluded from this definition are electric personal assisted mobility devices, vehicles that use overhead electric wires or are used only on stationary tracks or rails.

DUI offenses in Ohio can occur on any public or private property or highway used by the public, for travel or parking, while in physical control of a vehicle.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at high-tier levels double the jail time requirement. These offenses include operating a motor vehicle with BAC levels of:

  • Blood Alcohol Content of .170 or higher
  • Blood Plasma Content of .204 or higher
  • Breath Alcohol Content of .170 or higher
  • Urine Alcohol Content of .237 or higher

Physical control of a vehicle while impaired requires proof of an OVI, but the vehicle need not be moving. Sitting in the driver’s seat holding the ignition key is enough. This is not considered an OVI conviction and will not be called a prior conviction.

In order to get a conviction, it must be proven that the driver had a lack of self-control and the clearness of intellect that they would have had if they had not been drinking or taking drugs. It must particularly pertain to the ability to drive.

If a person refuses to have their breath, urine or blood tested they can still be convicted of a DUI. The evidence used can include poor or dangerous driving, the odor of alcohol when stopped by police, slurred speech, glassy and red eyes, and/or staggering and performing poorly on a field sobriety test. If a driver has been arrested for DUI, it is a criminal offense to refuse to be tested.

In Ohio, drivers can argue this presumption of guilt in court, within limits. If the alcohol level in the system is proven by the tests, drivers can be convicted even if they do not show any other signs of being under the influence.

In order to be admissable in court, the BAC tests must be administered according to the rules of the Department of Health.