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A drunk driving charge is always a serious affair. You face the possibility of fines, jail time, suspended driving privileges, and legal costs. In some scenarios, you might even face a felony charge for driving drunk, which will involve more serious criminal penalties and severe consequences for your personal and professional life. In addition to reduced employment and professional opportunities, for example, felons face restricted voting and gun ownership rights.
You may be charged with operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) / DUI if there is evidence that you were driving while:
Usually a misdemeanor charge, you will face felony charges for OVI when any of the following apply to your case:
According to the Columbus City Code, however, there are no time restraints on considering prior OVI convictions. This means that if you get arrested for drunk driving within the city of Columbus, a judge may take into account OVI convictions that occurred decades in the past. Thus, you may face felony charges in Columbus upon your fourth OVI, regardless of when the previous convictions took place.
Felonies and misdemeanors are different categories of crimes. Misdemeanors are the less serious category of offense, with sentences being carried out in the county jail as opposed to a state prison. Felonies also involve harsher fines, and are almost impossible to have removed from your criminal record.
Convicted felons face restricted voting rights. They cannot own firearms and will receive serious criminal penalties if they get caught. Felons have severely diminished employment prospects and cannot qualify for most professional licenses. As a felon, your reputation within your community will likely suffer too.
The penalties for a felony DUI conviction are as follows:
Owing to the staggering penalties that result from a felony OVI conviction, you should spare no expense in hiring the most experienced legal representation possible for the defense of your case. With your freedom, finances, and reputation on the line, you need to work with a Columbus criminal defense attorney who will take a detailed look at your case and develop an aggressive defense strategy.
Every case is different, but in general, the most effective OVI defense strategy is to file a motion to suppress. When the police obtain evidence by violating your rights, your defense lawyer can ask the judge to remove that evidence from the prosecutor’s case. If the motion to suppress is successful, the prosecutor may not have enough evidence to prove your guilt. Below are examples where filing a motion to suppress might be an option:
When suppressing the prosecution’s evidence is not an option, the prosecutor will be able to use all the available evidence to prove your guilt at trial. In such cases, it may be best to avoid the expense of a trial and to negotiate a plea deal. If you are facing felony OVI charges, it may be possible to plead guilty to a misdemeanor OVI charge. Obtaining a beneficial plea agreement depends on the skill and perseverance of your Columbus criminal defense attorney.
At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we have a proven track record of achieving positive case outcomes for our clients facing OVI charges. We will ensure that your rights are respected during the criminal justice process and formulate the best defense strategy available under your circumstances. If you need to defend against a felony OVI charge, call us today at for a free and confidential consultation of your case.
If you’ve been charged with a OVI / DUI, it’s important to know what you’re up against. If you have any questions left unanswered by this page, or if you need a competent, experienced Columbus DUI lawyer to fight for you in court, please contact us at or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* If the offense was committed in Columbus, then there is no six- or 20-year look back period. Any prior OVI / DUI offense is considered, no matter how long ago it was committed.
“Low” or “high” test refers to testing at a blood alcohol content of 0.08 to 0.17 or greater than 0.17, respectively.
A simple OVI is when in the officer’s subjective opinion the way the person is driving, the way they pull over, how they look, how they smell, what they say to the officer and how they perform on the roadside standardized field sobriety tests indicate that they are too impaired to operate a vehicle.
“Drugs” refers to driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
Finally, “refusal with prior in 20 years” refers to when a person refuses the breath test and has had a prior OVI / DUI conviction in the last 20 years (or, if they’re in Columbus and sentenced under the Columbus City Code, a prior OVI / DUI conviction, period).
This is something that would have to be negotiated with a prosecutor and accepted by a judge. It also depends on the facts and circumstances. The ultimate question is whether the prosecutor has enough evidence to get a conviction. If the prosecutor ultimately feels the evidence is insufficient to get one, a misdemeanor plea reduction may be negotiated.
It is of utmost importance that you seek an attorney immediately, so he or she can meet with the prosecutor to negotiate your charge. Otherwise, the prosecutor may take the police report at face value.
A felony will cancel your voting registration, and you cannot vote while still incarcerated. You can, however, re-register and vote upon release.
Barring appeal at the court of common pleas, you will also not be able to possess firearms or explosives.
Other rights not granted to felons include holding public office; serving in a jury; witnessing documents; enlisting in the military; participating in many contracts; working in certain federal jobs, such as the police; and traveling to other countries (though this is temporary).