According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, there were 206 fatal crashes in Franklin County related to alcohol use in 2022. As you can imagine, local law enforcement agencies are working to lower that number.
It doesn’t matter to law enforcement if you had too many beers while at a sporting event like a Columbus Blue Jackets game or if you enjoyed a night at a bar in the Short North. If you’re driving around Columbus, it’s important to understand what operating a vehicle while impaired means and how a charge can affect your life.
Frequently Asked DUI Questions in Ohio
OVIs may seem simple, but they can be nuanced, which may complicate your case. Here’s more about OVI charges around Columbus and Ohio.
What is the Franklin County DUI Taskforce?
Established in 1993 by the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Franklin County DUI Taskforce works to reduce fatal crashes and other accidents caused by impaired drivers. There are member departments from across the county, including the Columbus Police Department.
This group engages in educational efforts, sobriety checkpoints, and DUI patrols. These patrols typically happen around holidays or when there could be many suspected drunk drivers on the road.
What is a Sobriety Checkpoint?
These short-term traffic stops are designed to allow officers to check several drivers without having to patrol. OVI checkpoints are usually announced ahead of time, and drivers can avoid them if they do so without breaking traffic laws. Local law enforcement agencies have increased the number of checkpoints, which seem to be reducing the number of impaired drivers found on the road.
If you’re suspected of driving while impaired, you could be arrested, and law enforcement agents may impound your vehicle.
What Are Columbus’ BAC Limits?
Ohio has set blood alcohol concentration limits that are generally applied. Drivers cannot have a BAC of more than 0.08% if they are older than 21. Commercial drivers cannot have a BAC exceeding 0.04%.
Drivers younger than 21 who cannot legally drink alcohol anyway cannot have a BAC higher than 0.02%. That means college students, like Ohio State University or Capital University students, could face charges for impaired driving.
What is Annie’s Law?
Annie’s Law was enacted in 2017, affecting several statutes related to OVI charges. This law, named for a woman killed in a crash by a drunk driver, updated the “look back” period for suspected impaired drivers from six years to ten.
The look-back period is the time before a new offense. If someone is charged with a recurring charge in a certain amount of time, like a second instance of impaired driving, they will face steeper penalties.
Under Annie’s Law, you could face harsher consequences if you were stopped for subsequent DUIs, like longer license suspensions, higher charges, or bigger fines.
Can You Expunge an OVI From Your Record?
Expungements can be helpful when you’re trying to reclaim your life and move past a criminal charge. Unfortunately, OVIs cannot be expunged. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first offense; you will have the DUI on your public record forever.
Does Ohio Have an OVI Registry?
Yes, Ohio has the Habitual Offender Registry. This database catalogs people convicted at least five times of driving while under the influence. It’s a public registry, meaning it’s available to the public and updated weekly with new case data from courts around the state.
How Can I Get to Work if My License is Suspended?
Reliable transportation is critical to maintaining independence after an OVI license suspension. There are options you can pursue in Franklin County to keep some of your freedom after losing your license.
The Central Ohio Transportation Authority offers bus routes and tools to find the best route for you. You may be able to apply for limited driving privileges that allow you to drive with certain permissions and restrictions.
Can I Operate a Scooter or Bike While Impaired?
Despite their popularity, electric scooters (e-scooters like Lime or Bird) are not good alternatives to driving a car while drunk. It’s possible to receive an OVI charge if you’re found to be operating a scooter while impaired. You could face similar penalties that you’d face if you drove a car while intoxicated or under the influence.
What Counts as Control of a Motor Vehicle?
In Ohio, it is illegal to be impaired and have control of a vehicle. That means your car doesn’t have to move or be turned on. If you’re found to have physical control of a vehicle, you can be charged with an OVI. Physical control means you’re in the driver’s seat and have your keys. They could just be in arms’ reach, or they could be in your pocket.
This can be an issue if your vehicle has a “keyless” ignition. You could have your keys in your pocket, giving you “physical control” of the vehicle, which could lead to an OVI charge.
Does Columbus Have an OVI Pretrial Diversion Program?
There are certain offenses in Ohio that allow you to mitigate your sentence through a pretrial diversion program designed to educate and deter future offenses. However, an OVI is not eligible for a pretrial diversion, even if it is your first offense. You’ll have to go through the normal trial and sentencing procedure.
Get Help with Columbus, Ohio OVI Charges
An OVI conviction in Franklin County can lead to strict punishments and consequences. Not only could you be sentenced to incarceration, but you could be forced to pay fines or lose your license. Then, there’s the social stigma attached to drunk driving.
OVI law is complicated, and it’s easy for you to be confused about your charges. You can review other FAQs here. But you should understand you’ll have the best chance at reducing or beating your charges with the help of a knowledgeable defense attorney.
At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we are ready to hear your story and help you create the best defense strategy. Remember that you’re innocent until proven guilty. Let our Columbus OVI/DUI lawyers help you take control of your story.
Call (614) 350-2115 to set up a free consultation.