When you’re driving and see police lights signaling you to pull over, it’s easy to get anxious. But it’s important to keep your wits about you, especially if you might face questions about your capacity to drive safely due to suspected impairment.
Operating a vehicle impaired (OVI), also known as driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious charge in Ohio and if convicted, the consequences are considerable. That’s why the worst mistake you can make is to try and resolve an OVI charge without the help of experienced defense counsel.
Review our list of the worst mistakes to avoid if you’re dealing with an OVI, and let the Columbus OVI attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates help. Contact us at (614) 500-3836 24 hours a day to set up a free consultation.
Five OVI-Related Mistakes to Avoid
- Talking too much: In the law we call this “making admissions against your own interests” and what you say can dig you into more legal trouble. Never admit you’ve been drinking (even “one or two”) or that you have taken any drugs, even lawful prescriptions. Any admission could give officers the right to administer further testing. Don’t acknowledge you were breaking any driving rules either. In fact, remember that silence is golden other than to tell the officer you are invoking your constitutional right to refuse to answer questions.
- Being a jerk: While you don’t want to talk with officers, absolutely refrain from being a aggressive or abusive during the stop. Being argumentative, cursing, threatening, or other poor behavior might be used as evidence that you were impaired. In addition, your chance to have the charges dismissed or reduced through plea bargain could be hindered if the officer felt you were abusive.
- Taking roadside sobriety tests: Sobriety tests like saying the alphabet backwards starting at Q or walking three steps and pivoting on a certain foot, are designed to give officers reason to arrest you. Don’t do them. Typically, it’s nighttime, you’re nervous, and cars are rushing by. Anyone would have a hard time with them. The same goes for the roadside breathalyzer, which is known to be unreliable. More about testing, below, but as for roadside tests, politely refuse (see tip 2, above).
- Driving “suspiciously” or with expired tags, lights out, suspended license: The quickest way to draw the attention of the police is to drive a vehicle with expired tags, with a headlight or taillight out, or far below the speed limit for conditions. Make sure that your vehicle stays maintained and your registration is up to date. Watch your speed and don’t ever drive while sleepy. It should go without saying but driving on a suspended license is a bad idea. If you get stopped for OVI and have a suspended license, the matter can be more difficult to resolve.
- Representing yourself: There’s an old saying that someone who represents himself has a fool for a client. When you’re facing an OVI, failing to get qualified counsel is a huge mistake. No matter how smart you are, how persuasive, or how charming, you are at real risk if you try to go it alone. Penalties for conviction of OVI include incarceration, fines, suspension of license, higher insurance rates, and additional collateral consequences. Our OVI attorneys may be able to get your charges dismissed or reduced.
A Word About DUI Testing
Under Ohio law, refusal to take an evidentiary test, which could be breath, blood, or urine, will result in OVI charges and penalties, including an automatic suspension of your drivers’ license – the length of which is determined by how many OVI charges you’ve had in the past. Whether you submit to testing is very fact specific.
Consider whether you’ve been drinking and how much. Do you have prior OVIs and could any professional licensing be at risk, such as for holders of a CDL? Refusal of roadside testing is generally advised, but you’ll have to make some decisions based on your circumstances.
Avoid OVI Pitfalls and Call LHA
Facing an OVI charge is scary. If stopped, remember to avoid making mistakes that could hurt your case. The most important pitfall to dodge is trying to go it alone. Let our experienced Columbus OVI lawyers advocate for you. We know the law and how to work with prosecutors to eliminate or reduce the consequences of OVI charges.
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.