Important Facts to Know About DUI in Columbus
The Columbus DUI attorneys at our firm, Yavitch & Palmer, are experienced in many aspects of drunk driving cases. The laws cover a variety of different situations and it’s important to know that any consumption of alcohol followed by operating any motor vehicle can be considered a DUI offense in Ohio.
In Ohio, drunk driving offenses are described using many different terms. In some cases you may see OVI which means “operating a vehicle intoxicated,” DUI or “driving under the influence of alcohol,” OMVI which stands for “operating a motor vehicle while under the influence, impaired, or intoxicated,” as well as DWI which means “driving while intoxicated.”
It is important to remember that “operate” does not necessarily mean driving a car. It sometimes doesn’t matter if the car is parked or not even running. If you are sitting in the driver’s seat and you have the keys in the ignition or even close at hand, courts and police may consider you to be operating the vehicle. Also, operating a motor vehicle is not limited to cars. Is includes trucks, buses, motorcycles, boats, bicycles, lawnmowers, golf carts, tractors – basically anything that is motorized.
Ohio now has separate charge called Physical Control. This charge applies when someone is in control of a motor vehicle and the police and prosecution can’t prove that the person was actually driving. The good news is that this helped clarify what “operate” means. It also carries no points and none of the mandatory fines and penalties that come with a Columbus OVI conviction. The bad news is that this is still a misdemeanor of the first degree (M-1). It has the same maximum penalties as an OVI. So a court can sentence you to jail and/or place you on probation with the same mandates you would expect on an OVI.
Lawyers often look to physical control as a plea bargaining option. This is sometimes a good way to resolve a case. But be sure to check with your lawyer and explore all options.
Being “under the influence of alcohol” does not necessarily mean that you are “drunk.” It means that you have consumed some alcohol. It does not matter what your BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) is. Consuming alcohol can impair your actions and mental abilities – even if you have had “just a glass of wine” or “one beer.” If you have consumed any alcohol and it has adversely affected and appreciably impaired your ability to act, react or think, then you are under the influence and can be charged with drunk driving in Columbus Ohio. “Appreciable” basically means that you are noticeably impaired and a police officer can arrest you.
You may not believe you are drunk and get behind the wheel after a few drinks. Even if you just feel “buzzed,” that is still considered a drunk driving offense in Columbus Ohio. Don’t get behind the wheel even if you’re just a little bit impaired. It’s not worth risking your permanent record, your safety, or your freedom and livelihood. More importantly, it’s not worth risking your life, of that of any innocent people.