The most common drinking and driving charges that we hear about are Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), and Operating Vehicle while Intoxicated (OVI). But in Ohio, you can also face charges if you’re in your vehicle, intoxicated, and not driving.
This is known as physical control, and although it doesn’t carry as harsh penalties as other related crimes, it can still result in fines and more.
If you’ve been charged with a physical control charge in Ohio, contact our defense attorneys today by calling (614) 500-3836. We offer free consultations and have experience handling DUI and physical control cases.
What’s a Physical Control Charge in Ohio?
Physical Control, according to Ohio Revised Code 4511.194, is when you’re in the driver’s seat of your vehicle with the keys or ignition devices in reach while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both. You’re not operating the vehicle, but you could at any point.
So, you can be charged if you decide you’re too intoxicated to drive and sleep in your car while you have the keys on your person.
When Can You Be Charged with OVI vs. Physical Control?
If you turn on your car to run the heat or air conditioning while you sleep, you have crossed over into OVI charges since you’re technically “operating” the vehicle.
This is because Ohio doesn’t have safe harbor laws. These laws allow someone who doesn’t feel like they’re in the right position to operate a vehicle to still use their vehicle as shelter.
What Penalties Are There for Physical Control Offenses in Ohio?
With your first conviction, you can expect between zero and 180 days in jail. But you might be able to keep your license and won’t get any points since physical control isn’t a moving violation.
But the judge might still impose court-ordered drug or alcohol treatment and hefty fines. These penalties will get steeper each time if you continue to offend.
Defending Against Physical Control Charges in Ohio
There are defenses that your physical control attorney can use to either reduce or drop your charges.
You Didn’t Have Physical Control
You can prove that you weren’t in the driver’s seat and didn’t have direct access to operate the vehicle. Also, if you didn’t have the keys, that can be used to your advantage.
Challenging Breath/Sobriety Test Results
You can prove that your breathalyzer and/or sobriety test results were hampered because of medical issues or improper administration of the tests.
Challenging Probable Cause
You can prove that the traffic stop was unwarranted and/or that the officer didn’t have probable cause to inspect the vehicle.
Let LHA Help Defend Against Your Physical Control Charge
If you think you weren’t in the right position to operate a vehicle and are now facing physical control charges for doing what you thought was right, contact Luftman, Heck & Associates. They’re the Columbus physical control lawyers who can give you the defense that you deserve.