Columbus DUI Lawyers
If you’ve been arrested and charged for operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) in Columbus, often called a DUI or DWI, you may think your situation is hopeless. When the prosecutor’s case includes incriminating chemical test results and the arresting officer’s testimony, it may seem like there is no way to refute the charges. But by having a team of skilled Columbus DUI lawyers by your side, you have a good chance of having the charges reduced or dismissed.
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Arrested for OVI / DUI in Columbus: What to Do?
If you’re pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be questioned, arrested, detained, and forced to appear in court. However, even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit in Columbus, you have rights.
You should immediately:
- Remain silent – Do not give an oral or written statement or sign anything until your Columbus DUI lawyer is present.
- Ask for an Attorney – Make sure the police know that you want an attorney. They should not continue to question you until your lawyer arrives.
You have other optional rights as well, including the right to:
- Refuse a chemical test – You may refuse a breathalyzer, urine, and/or blood test if the police do not have a warrant. However, if you refuse, you will face an administrative license suspension. A Columbus DUI lawyer may be able to help you regain driving privileges for school and work if your license is suspended.
- Refuse to answer incriminating questions – You do not have to answer questions from the officer such as “How much have you had to drink?” You must provide basic information, including your name, driver’s license, and car insurance to the officer.
You can find information and Franklin County OVI/DUI arrest records by visiting:
- Franklin County Ohio Sheriff
- Columbus Police Department
- The Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS)
- Franklin County Clerk of Courts
- Columbus Car Impound
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Difference Between DUI / DWI / OMVI / OVI
Essentially, they are all different ways of saying the same thing: operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In Ohio, OMVI was the acronym used prior to 2004. OMVI stands for Operating a Motor Vehicle while under the Influence of alcohol or drugs of abuse.
Ohio law changed and the requirement that a vehicle be motorized was removed. Currently, you will be charged with an OVI. It stands for Operating a Vehicle while under the Influence of alcohol or drugs.
How Long Will a DUI Conviction Stay on My Record?
How Long Will a DUI Conviction Stay on My Record? | LHA
Columbus DUI/OVI Charges & Penalties
Your Columbus DUI lawyer will review the prosecutor’s evidence and ask for your side of the story. It may be necessary to perform additional investigative work, seek witnesses, or even hire an expert to testify.
Even if the evidence seems difficult to overcome, a DUI attorney nearby can help you defend your rights and minimize consequences in your specific situation.
Know your rights if you face any of the following:
- First DUI offense — 3 days to 6 months in jail, fines between $375 to $1,075, criminal license suspension of 6 months to 3 years, no possibility of obtaining limited driving privileges within 15 days of conviction
- First DUI offense under 21 — Up to 30 days in jail but no mandatory minimum sentence, up to $250 in fines, license suspension for 90 days to 2 years, no limited driving privileges for 60 days
- First DUI offense with high test — 6 days to 6 months in jail, fines between $375 to $1,075, license suspension of 6 months to 3 years, no possibility of obtaining limited driving privileges within 15 days of conviction, required to use yellow OVI plates
- Second DUI offense — 10 days to 6 months in jail, fines between $525 and $1,625, required to attend alcohol/drug treatment, license suspension between 1 and 5 years, no possibility or regaining limited driving privileges for 45 days, vehicle immobilized for 90 days, required to use yellow plates and ignition interlock device
- Second DUI offense under 21 — Up to 60 days in jail but no mandatory minimum sentence, up to $500 in fines, license suspended for 1 to 5 years, no limited driving privileges for 60 days
- Second DUI offense with high test — 20 days to 6 months in jail, fines between $525 and $1,625, required to attend alcohol/drug treatment, license suspension between 1 and 5 years, no possibility or regaining limited driving privileges for 45 days, vehicle immobilized for 90 days, required to use yellow plates and ignition interlock device
- Multiple DUI offense — 30 days to 1 year in jail, fines between $850 and $2,750, required to receive alcohol or drug treatment, license suspended for 2 to 5 years, no limited driving privileges for 180 days, revoked vehicle registration, obligation to use yellow license plates
- Multiple DUI offense with high test — 60 days to 1 year in jail, fines between $850 and $2,750, alcohol or drug treatment, license suspended for 2 to 5 years, no limited driving privileges for 180 days, revoked vehicle registration, obligation to use yellow license plates
Your specific situation may mean that you face different consequences if convicted of an OVI / DUI.
Penalties for a DUI / OVI charge in Columbus may be different for you if any of the following apply:
- College Student DUI
- DUI with a CDL
- DUI with a BAC under .08
- DUI with a Concealed Weapon
- DUI with No Insurance
- Professional License DUI
- DUI on Probation
Collateral Consequences of a Columbus OVI/DUI
A conviction for OVI / DUI in Central Ohio can cause a ripple effect that touches your life for many years to come. The criminal penalties you face if convicted include possible jail time, fines, loss of your driver’s license, impoundment of your vehicle, and having to use yellow license plates or an ignition interlock on your car.
However, criminal penalties aren’t the only consequences of an OVI / DUI conviction. You may find that your conviction, and the resulting criminal record, create many unexpected obstacles in your life. An OVI / DUI conviction can’t be expunged in Ohio, meaning it will follow you permanently.
These are just some of the ways an OVI / DUI conviction might affect your life:
- Employment — Many employers perform criminal background checks before hiring someone. If a potential employer sees an OVI / DUI in your history, you may not be offered the job, especially if it involves driving at all. Even if you already have a job, when there’s any driving done for the job some employers regularly check employees’ driving records and have internal policies about suspending or terminating someone for an OVI / DUI conviction even when your offense happened on your personal time and in your personal vehicle.
- Housing — People who own or manage rental properties may perform criminal background checks prior to renting to a possible tenant. An OVI / DUI conviction could be a barrier to renting an apartment or a house.
- College Admissions — College applications often will ask whether the applicant has any criminal history. A criminal OVI / DUI conviction may be the difference between an acceptance or a denial in a competitive applicant pool.
- Military Enlistment — If you were planning to join the military, an OVI / DUI conviction may prevent you from enlisting or being inducted.
- Security Clearances — If you are trying to get a government job or contract that requires a security clearance, you may be denied when the background check turns up your OVI / DUI conviction. The conviction could be deemed evidence that you lack sound judgment and can’t be trusted with sensitive or classified material.
- Professional Licenses — A criminal background check is part of the process for many types of professional licensing applications. A conviction on your record could prevent you from being approved for a license to practice law, medicine, nursing, or other professions.
- Immigration — An OVI / DUI by itself may not affect your immigration status, but when coupled with another charge such as driving under suspension, or a vehicular assault or homicide, you could find yourself facing problems with your green card, resident status, or citizenship application.
- Custody — An OVI / DUI conviction and/or the associated driver’s license suspension could cause issues for you if you’re separated or divorced and in the midst of custody proceedings, especially if your children were in the car when you got pulled over.
- Travel — You could have problems trying to travel internationally with an OVI / DUI on your record. Some countries won’t allow you in if you have a criminal conviction, including for an OVI / DUI.
- Increased Insurance Rates — Every insurance company has its own internal policies about setting rates, but you may find that your insurance company raises your rates or even decides to drop you as too high a risk after an OVI / DUI conviction. You also may need an SR-22 insurance bond after a conviction, which is much more costly than regular insurance.
Columbus OVI Laws
he bulk of Ohio’s drunk and drugged driving laws are contained within section 4511.19 of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) . This statute lays out in detail the amounts of alcohol and other mind-altering substances that can legally be present in a person’s blood while he or she is in control of a vehicle.
For drivers over the age of 21, the legal limits are as follows:
- Alcohol — 0.08 percent in blood; 0.08g in breath; 0.11g in urine
- Amphetamine — 100ng in blood, 500ng in urine
- Cocaine — 50ng in blood; 150ng in urine
- Heroin — 50ng in blood; 2000ng in urine
- LSD — 10ng in blood; 25ng in urine
- Marijuana — 2ng in blood; 10ng in urine
- Methamphetamine — 100ng in blood; 500ng in urine
For drivers under the age of 21, the legal limits for drugs remain the same. But for alcohol, the legal limit is reduced to .02 percent in blood, 0.02g in-breath, and 0.028g in urine samples respectively.
Ohio OVI law contains different penalties for “low” and “high” test results for alcohol. You will receive a “high test” sentence for your OVI if your test results equal or exceed 0.17% in blood, 0.17g in-breath, or .238 grams in urine samples.
DUI Tests in Columbus
There are four types of tests used in Ohio OVI cases:
- Field sobriety tests
The prosecutor will use the results of these tests to prove that you were under the influence while driving. Your Columbus DUI attorney will attempt to have these test results excluded from the prosecution’s case by requesting a suppression hearing. The motion to suppress the evidence may succeed when the police or the medical personnel administering the test did not follow proper procedures, or when there was no legal basis for asking you to submit to a test.
A police officer will have a legal basis to ask you to submit to a test if he or she has reason to believe you are driving under the influence. Upon pulling you over, if the officer notices the smell of alcohol or that you have glassy eyes, slurred speech, erratic behavior, or slow responses, he or she may request that you submit to any of the following tests:
- Field Sobriety Tests — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed three field sobriety tests: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Walk and Turn, and One Leg Stand. Studies indicate a strong correlation between failing these tests and being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is no legal obligation to submit to a field sobriety test, so it’s advisable to politely decline these tests to avoid giving the authorities more evidence against you.
- Portable Breathalyzer Tests (PBT) — Just like a field sobriety test, you may refuse to submit to a PBT without having your license suspended. A PBT gives a loose estimate of your blood alcohol content based on the amount of alcohol in your breath. The purpose of the roadside Breathalyzer test is to give the police the probable cause necessary to arrest you, at which point they can give you a more accurate test.
If you fail the field sobriety or portable Breathalyzer test—or if your behavior, appearance, and smell are strongly indicative of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs—the police may arrest you for OVI. The arresting officer can then compel you to take a breath, blood, or urine test to provide the prosecutor with the evidence necessary to prosecute your OVI case. If you refuse to submit to a test at this point, you will face the administrative suspension of your license in addition to the license suspension you might receive later on from a judge. The tests you may face after getting arrested may include:
- Breathalyzer Test — At the police station, there will be breath test machines that are far more accurate than the portable ones used at the roadside. To be admissible at trial, the test must have been administered within two hours of your arrest.
- Urine Test — Another way of collecting proof of your intoxication is through the collection of a urine sample within three hours of your arrest. The sample must be collected in front of a witness, then labeled, stored, and analyzed according to strict procedures. Otherwise, the sample cannot be used against you at trial.
- Blood Test — When you refuse a Breathalyzer or urine test, the police may request a warrant from a judge to obtain a blood sample against your will. If the police obtain the warrant, they can take you to a medical facility where a licensed medical professional must collect your blood sample. Just like with urine samples, the blood sample must be collected, labeled, stored, and analyzed according to stringent regulations.
Going to Court for a Columbus DUI
If you are charged with OVI in Franklin County, Ohio your case will be heard in one of several types of courts. OVI charges are handled in either Mayor’s Court, Municipal Court, or the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
If you are charged with a felony OVI, your case may start in Municipal Court where an initial appearance and preliminary hearing will take place. Following that, the case will move to Common Pleas Court. Either way, you should not delay in getting the best DUI lawyer possible.
The Ohio DUI court process can be complex, and the prosecutor will likely try to give you the harshest penalties possible. But your attorney can take action early-on to protect you and help you deal with charges the right way.
Why Hire a Columbus OVI Lawyer
It’s essential that you invest in an experienced and local drunk driving attorney if you’re facing OVI / DUI charges because the consequences are so severe. In fact, a skilled Columbus DUI lawyer can actually save you money.
They will fight to have your charges dropped and negotiate to reduce your penalties so that your attorney fees may actually be less than what you would owe in court costs, fines, ignition interlock device fees, alcohol treatment program costs, and work time lost. Our defense attorneys are experienced in handling OVI cases in Franklin County and can help with your case. Don’t take our word for it though. Read our 400+ 5-star reviews on Google.
What Will a DUI Lawyer in Columbus Cost Me?
Every OVI / DUI case and circumstance will vary. After an initial consultation with one of our experienced Columbus DUI lawyers, you can learn more about your options.
How to Defend Against DUI Charges in Columbus
If you’re charged with an OVI in Columbus, the prosecution must prove that you were operating the vehicle and that you were impaired. If they cannot, they do not have enough evidence to prove you’re guilty of a DUI.
Our Columbus DUI lawyers have the skills and knowledge to build a solid DUI / OVI defense and poke holes in the case against you.
Common issues to consider are:
- You were not “operating” a vehicle – Even if the car was not running, the prosecution may try to show that you were operating the vehicle. We may be able to prove that you did not have the keys in the ignition or there was no actual motion of the vehicle.
- You were not “impaired” – Impairment may be shown through drug and alcohol chemical tests, field sobriety tests, or officer witness testimony. We can work to show that the methods used were faulty and you were not actually intoxicated.
- Arresting officer lacked reasonable suspicion – The police need a valid reason – more than a hunch – to pull you over. If the arresting officer cannot articulate what they observed in your driving that gave rise to reasonable suspicion, certain evidence may be suppressed.
- Roadblocks must be legal – Roadblocks are often used to catch drunk drivers in Columbus; however, they must follow guidelines and be set up according to state and federal regulations. If not, evidence may be inadmissible in court.
- Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) must be conducted precisely – Our attorneys are familiar with the evidence the prosecution uses against alleged offenders. Attorney Benjamin Luftman has received training in the administration of field sobriety tests.
- Breathalyzer tests and chemical tests are prone to error – Our attorneys have the knowledge to build a strong defense against inaccurate and faulty tests that may be used to incriminate you.
- DUI Expungements – Although a DUI cannot be expunged from your criminal record, you can take actions that minimize the collateral effects of a DUI on your life.
- Defenses to Fight a DUI in Columbus – Our Columbus DUI defense attorneys have extensive experience fighting criminal DUI charges. We may focus on probable cause, coerced statements, improper testing, and factual challenges to have your charges reduced or dismissed.
Below are the top 5 defenses that our DUI attorneys use to defend against OVI charges in Franklin County:
1. Probable Cause
The Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures without warrants. The amendment was written to protect people’s homes, but later was interpreted by the courts to include their vehicles. That means that police need probable cause to make a vehicle stop, which counts as a “seizure” for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. To have probable cause, the police officer, deputy, or trooper making the stop must have a reasonable suspicion that you’ve broken a law, and the officer has to provide “specific and articulable” facts to support the stop.
Just about any kind of traffic infraction can be sufficient for an officer to pull you over — a burnt out headlight or expired license plates, for example. A common reason that police in and around Columbus use to pull drivers over is a marked lanes violation, or in other words swerving over the yellow line. Oftentimes a marked lanes violation will lead to a police officer or trooper administering field sobriety tests and arresting the driver for OVI / DUI.
However, sometimes the facts and the evidence may not support the stop. In that circumstance, a good OVI / DUI lawyer can challenge the stop as unconstitutional and work to get any evidence obtained from the stop — such as your field sobriety test results — suppressed in court. That may lead to a dismissal of your charges, or a reduction to a lesser offense with lighter penalties.
2. Coerced Statements
You have a constitutional right under the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights not to make incriminating statements against yourself. It may be the case that when the officer pulled you over, he or she manipulated you into making statements that are now being used as evidence against you in court. Your DUI defense lawyer may be able to argue that these statements were taken in violation of your constitutional rights and possibly get a judge to agree that your statements should not be used as evidence. Without your statements, the prosecutor might have a tougher time proving the charge and might be willing to negotiate a reduction or dismissal of your charge.
3. Coerced Testing
When your OVI / DUI charge is based on a test you didn’t consent to, you may be able to argue that your were coerced into taking the test. The circumstances under which this defense might be successful are limited, but include being told when you’re not actually under arrest that you no choice but to submit to the test because of the implied consent in your obtaining an Ohio driver’s license. An experienced OVI / DUI defense lawyer can discuss with you whether this defense might be available in your case.
4. Testing Errors
Ohio has complex and detailed regulations for how breath, blood, and urine tests must be administered when a person is arrested for an OVI / DUI charge. When these regulations aren’t followed, the test results may be invalid. A skilled criminal defense lawyer with experience challenging OVI / DUI test results will look at the results in your case with a sharp eye for any mistakes that may open the door to getting your test results suppressed so that they can’t be used as evidence against you in court.
With no test results to support your charge, the prosecutor may be willing to negotiate for a lesser charge such as reckless operation, or to dismiss your case altogether.
Some common problems with DUI testing include:
- The person who administered the test didn’t follow proper testing procedures or wasn’t properly trained to administer the test
- The test wasn’t performed within the time limit mandated by Ohio law
- The samples weren’t analyzed properly
- The results weren’t recorded properly
- The machine wasn’t properly maintained or calibrated under Ohio regulations
5. Factual Challenges
Sometimes the facts of your case just won’t support an OVI / DUI charge. Police officers can be fallible like any other human being, and sometimes they get it wrong. It’s important to discuss with your DUI defense lawyer everything that happened and not to leave out any detail, however minor it may seem. Once your lawyer hears all of the facts, he or she may see problems with the prosecution’s case that could lead to a dismissal or a reduction in charges.
Available 24/7 to Help with Your OVI/DUI Charge
DUIs happen at all hours of the day and night. You can even locate Franklin County DUI inmates here.
Columbus DUI attorney Benjamin Luftman knows that when you need legal advice, the situation may be urgent. We can help get your loved one out of jail, and if necessary assist with posting a bond with the Franklin County Clerk of Courts located at 345 S. High St., 1st Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215.
Our clients have our cell phone numbers and can be reached directly with questions and concerns. If you or a loved one are arrested for a DUI, you need an attorney who can be available right away. Our team of Columbus DUI lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates will be there when you need us.
If you have a pending DUI charge, call our Columbus DUI lawyers now.
How Our DUI Lawyers Fight OVI Charges
Luftman, Heck & Associates have helped thousands of people in Columbus and the surrounding area overcome their OVI and other drunk driving charges. Our Columbus criminal defense attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to defending DUI cases.
Our Columbus DUI lawyers are accomplished in the area of DUI law. Not only are we knowledgeable about current Columbus DUI law and processes, but we teach others about it as well. Founding partner Benjamin Luftman regularly speaks at Certified Ohio Driver Intervention Programs.
Criminal defense attorney Benjamin Luftman has written several pieces focused on criminal law and DUIs in Columbus. He even co-authored jury instructions that were adopted by the Ohio State Bar Association and are now used by courts throughout the state. He also contributed to the book Trends in DUI Discovery (2015 ed.) with a chapter entitled “Using the SFST Results to Develop Successful Defenses in a DUI Case.”
What Can a DUI Lawyer Do for Me?
Central Ohio OVI Lawyers with Local Experience
From our office at 601 S High St, our experienced OVI lawyers have worked with clients throughout Columbus and the surrounding areas. We know that local courts can have specific court procedures and rules.
We help people defend against DUI and OVI charges in any of the cities surrounding Columbus, including:
- Bexley DUI Lawyers
- Circleville DUI Lawyers
- Delaware County DUI Lawyers
- Dublin DUI Lawyers
- Fairfield County DUI Lawyers
- Franklin County DUI Lawyers
- Gahanna DUI Lawyers
- Grandview Heights DUI Lawyer
- Granville DUI Lawyers
- Grove City DUI Lawyer
- Hilliard DUI Lawyer
- Licking County DUI Lawyers
- Madison County DUI Lawyers
- Marysville DUI Lawyers
- New Albany DUI Lawyer
- Pickaway County DUI Lawyers
- Pickerington DUI Lawyers
- Reynoldsburg DUI Lawyer
- Union County DUI Lawyers
- Upper Arlington DUI Lawyer
- Westerville DUI Lawyer
- Worthington DUI Lawyer
When you’ve been charged with OVI / DUI, your future will depend on the legal representation you choose. You can represent yourself, retain the services of the public defender’s office, or you can find and hire a private drunk driving lawyer. It’s never advisable to represent yourself in a serious criminal case, and the public defender’s office may be too busy to give your case the kind of thorough review necessary to get you the best results possible.
Therefore, if you want to avoid the harsh consequences of an OVI / DUI conviction, your best bet is to hire a top DUI attorney. It goes without saying that the experience and skill of your lawyer will go a long way in getting the results you want.
Work with DUI Defense Lawyers to Protect Your Rights
Lawyers are not just highly trained professionals—they’re highly focused in vastly different areas of the law. For example, a lawyer that successfully resolved an insurance claim or property dispute is probably not the best DUI lawyer to defend you. Conversely, great OVI lawyers are rarely authorities in divorce, bankruptcy, or contract law.
This means that when you’re facing an OVI in Franklin County or the surrounding areas, you need a local lawyer with a significant background in DUI law. Better yet, find an attorney with so much OVI experience that he or she is an authority in Columbus DUI cases and intimately familiar with the local court. This can make the difference in a dismissal or drastic reduction.
There are several Columbus criminal defense lawyers who primarily handle OVI cases, and the one you choose should give you confidence in his or her ability to advocate on your behalf. Most law firms offer free initial consultations, so you should call any lawyers that catch your attention and ask them questions about their background and experience.
Here are some questions you should ask any attorney you are looking to hire to represent you on your OVI / DUI charge.
How Luftman, Heck & Associates Defend OVI Cases?
The government and its agents are under a constitutional obligation to respect the rights. A violation is not just morally wrong—it also could have a practical effect on your OVI case. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we carefully review all of the evidence to determine whether the authorities trampled your rights in any way.
The prosecutor cannot use evidence obtained in a way that violates your rights. Without evidence to prove your guilt, the prosecutor will have trouble obtaining your conviction. Better yet, the prosecutor’s remaining DUI evidence may be so weak that your lawyer can ask the court to dismissal your charges.
Here are some examples of violations that often come up in OVI / DUI cases:
- The arresting officer made an illegal traffic stop—The police must have a reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime when they pull you over. If not, any evidence obtained from that traffic stop cannot be used at trial against you. If you got stopped at an OVI roadblock, it may be possible to have evidence of the stop suppressed if the roadblock was not announced in advance and did not respect NHTSA standards.
- The police did not have probable cause—Once you get pulled over, the police need probable cause to arrest you, to compel you to submit to a chemical test, or to search your vehicle—unless you give them your consent. If your lawyer can show that the facts available to the officer did not add up to the probable cause, the evidence obtained from your search, arrest, and the chemical test may be excluded from the prosecution’s case.
- The arresting officer failed to read your Miranda rights—Once you’re under arrest, the police must inform you of your rights to remain silent and to obtain a lawyer. Once you request a lawyer, the police must stop questioning you. Any statements you make while these rights are being violated cannot be used against you at trial.
- Your blood or urine test was performed improperly—If the police legally obtain a blood or urine sample from you, and the test returns a positive for drugs or alcohol, your case still stands a chance. Strict regulations apply to how your blood or urine samples must be collected, labeled, or stored. Any deviation from the proper procedure may result in the suppression of your test results.
At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we can help you confront the Ohio court system from start to finish. By advocating for your rights and thinking strategically, we will maximize your chances of obtaining a positive case result.
Charged with a DUI or OVI? Call a Top Columbus DUI Lawyer Today.
With the help of an experienced DUI lawyer near you, you can be sure to understand all of your options during an OVI case. We will protect your rights and make sure law enforcement and the courts respect them throughout the criminal justice process.
The Columbus criminal defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates protect people charged with an OVI / DUI on a daily basis, and we can do so for you.