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Ohio Coronavirus Shutdown Reopening and Being “Shot” out of a Cannon – A Surge in DUI’s?

Will Ohio bars reopening after Ohio coronavirus shutdown lead to increase in DUI?

After 8 weeks of COVID-19 quarantine and isolation, the world is starting to open around us.  Through some stroke of discretionary governor fiat, the business of criminal defense was deemed “essential.”  I’ve driven to the office every day.  For weeks the roads were virtually empty.  No busy commuters looking down at their phones, no traffic jams, and no sign of police patrolling the highways.

Almost as if to say, “enough is enough,” traffic began to increase in the last several weeks.  I found myself tense behind the wheel again.  I hadn’t felt that in a long time.  I quickly realized why.  The roads were busy.  It was the first sunny day, and people were out in droves.

I realized that there are certain things the government can’t stop.  Human nature is one of those things.  We are, by and large, gregarious.  We need interaction.  And freedom (in this country anyway) has conditioned us to crave it.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering, “What’s this got to do with being ‘shot’ out of cannon.”

Here’s the thing. For the first 4 weeks of the shutdown, I thought my phone was broken.  We did not get typical springtime calls for help with OVIs, DUIs and various other alcohol-related trouble.  People were not out partying for March Madness.  There was no St. Patrick’s Day drinking.  No springtime parties on the patio at the local watering holes.

That’s a good thing, most would say.  After all, who would condone drinking and driving?  But it brought back memories of college drinking parties.  I recall the folks showing up late because they were at class or work or whatever.  The first thing they did was order shots to catch up.

Or recall driving a long way over the holidays to see family and friends.  The first thing people do is grab the booze and party—often so much that the hangover the next day ruins the rest of the weekend.  They were shot out of a cannon the first night.

Here’s the take-away.  Watch out.  As restaurant patios open up, as social gatherings resume, as folks finally get to scratch the social itch to party, it will be easy to get shot out of the proverbial cannon.

There’s no good excuse to drink and drive.  The world’s not ending. At risk is more than just a hangover over a holiday weekend.  Even a first offense DUI in Ohio can put you in jail or alcohol program for a weekend.  It gets infinitely worse on the second time around.  Then a weekend in an alcohol program turns into a 10-day mandatory jail sentence (think of that COVID risk).  The third offense and beyond are worse yet.

The best way to avoid a DUI is to not drink and drive.  Unfortunately, DUIs happen.  When on the side of the road with a police cruiser in the rearview mirror, it is too late to take an Uber.  That mistake is already on the books.  But there’s not reason to compound the problems.

To anyone that finds themselves in that situation – facing a possible DUI/OVI charge – a few things are good to know:

  1. Call an Attorney Now. You may have a few critical minutes before the police come to your window or while they run your license. Use the time wisely to call a lawyer, even as you wait on the police to run your license.  Get advice fast.  Call an attorney.  Don’t know one?  Call Yavitch & Palmer at 614-224-6142.  The number is good 24/7.


  1. You don’t have to answer questions. You can exercise your right to remain silent. You don’t have to admit to drinking.  You don’t have to tell the police how much you had to drink, where you’ve been, or where your going.  They may not like it, but it’s better than lying or confessing to a crime.


  1. You don’t have to take field sobriety tests. If you think that you can pass a field sobriety test, think again.  If you’ve been drinking, chances are you won’t pass.  The tests are not designed to exonerate you.  But you are completely within your rights to refuse.  And, unlike a breath, urine, or blood test, there are no adverse legal consequences if you refuse field sobriety tests.


  1. You’re probably getting arrested and charged with OVI or DUI. Let’s face it. If you’re drunk or impaired, the police will know it. And they are not going to let you drive away.  Don’t fall victim to the notion that you’re going to get away with it.


  1. Don’t Be a Jackass. Be polite and respectful to the police, even if you feel like you’re being treated unfairly.  Police officers rarely want to see you get into more trouble.  They just want to do their jobs. We may disagree with their decisions and conclusions, but it doesn’t have to get ugly.  Act like a jackass, and they will certainly treat you like a jackass.  Act with courtesy and respect, and you will likely be treated with the same.


There’s a lot to worry about when defending an OVI or DUI in Ohio.  The best advice is to get advice as quickly as possible.  As always, we are here to help.  Any time of day or night.


Steve Palmer


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