Facing an OVI (operating a vehicle impaired) in Ohio is scary. The good news is that few cases go to trial as most OVI/DUIs are resolved through plea agreements.
But before accepting a plea agreement to an OVI charge. it’s important to understand everything that’s involved. And never plead guilty to an OVI without first consulting a Columbus OVI attorney. By having an experienced lawyer advocate for you, you can understand the long-term implications of an OVI plea or possibly have the charges dismissed or reduced.
Call the Columbus OVI attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP at (614) 500-3836 for a free consultation. We’re available 24 hours a day.
Resolving an Ohio OVI
Once you have defense counsel, you can start working on your OVI case. After reviewing the evidence, if it becomes clear the prosecutor likely can’t meet the burden of proof to find you guilty, your attorney will work to get the charges dropped.
If dismissal isn’t an option, we will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the case to reduce your charges as much as possible. This is important because OVI convictions carry so many penalties, including jail, fines, and suspended driving privileges, plus a permanent criminal record.
OVI Plea Agreements
To avoid time-consuming and costly trials, most OVIs are resolved through plea agreements. A plea is a mutual decision made between the prosecutor and defendant where a guilty plea is entered for some concessions made by the prosecutor.
To determine what concessions can be made to secure a plea bargain, prosecutors will evaluate the:
- strength of the evidence
- injuries to innocent victims or property
- your blood-alcohol-concentration (BAC) or level of drugs present
- the location, date, and time (i.e., were you stopped because of swerving and speeding in a school zone, or passing a bus of children that had stopped)
Another significant factor that affects the outcome of an OVI is whether it’s your first offense. First offenders often can secure better pleas if there are not egregious facts like injuries or high BAC. For example, first offenders can avoid the three-day jail stay if they agree to do a “Driver Intervention Program” instead.
Because police often include several lesser charges, there is a chance that your driving while intoxicated charge could be dropped in favor of pleading guilty to an offense with fewer penalties. Even if no other lesser charges were filed at the time, we can advocate for your OVI to be reduced to one of these lesser charges that typically have fines but not jail time:
- Having physical control of vehicle while under the influence – this means you were in the driver’s seat while intoxicated. It’s a first-degree misdemeanor but unlike an OVI, you’ll not suffer administrative consequences such as points on your license, higher insurance rates, or suspension of privileges. Should you be arrested again on OVI, this charge would not be viewed as a first offense.
- Operation in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property – this covers reckless operation of a vehicle when the safety of others and property was at risk. Although depending on the circumstances, you might face a fine and time in custody, plus points, suspension of your license, and maybe increased car insurance, it is usually not a first offense should you be charged with OVI in the future.
- Disorderly conduct – The statute covering what constitutes disorderly conduct is broad and might be an option for a reduction of your OVI. It does cover bad behavior while intoxicated as well. Minor misdemeanor convictions only have a maximum fine of $150 while a fourth-degree misdemeanor could mean a maximum of 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. None of the required OVI penalties would be assessed and it would not be a first OVI offense either.
Charged with OVI? Call Us Right Away
A conviction for driving under the influence can be devastating. You will face harsh consequences that can be life changing. But if you work with a Columbus OVI lawyer at Luftman, Heck & Associates, we can help mitigate those penalties and help you make a fresh start. We may even be able to get your charges dismissed entirely. What you don’t want to do is represent yourself and simply plead guilty to “put it behind you.” Instead, let us advocate on your behalf and protect your rights.