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Whether you are facing your first driving under the influence (DUI) charge or a subsequent offense, the situation can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming. For most people, losing your license even temporarily can have a devastating effect on your professional and personal lives. Ohio defines the act of driving drunk as operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI). There are strict penalties associated with a drunk driving conviction, even for first timers. At the Law Office of A. Dale Naticchia, our Cleveland DUI attorneys have assisted drivers arrested in Akron and throughout Cuyahoga County in seeking fair treatment during a DUI / OVI investigation, particularly when it comes to ensuring that the field sobriety tests were administered appropriately. If you are facing a DUI / OVI charge, contact us to start learning about the defenses that may apply to your situation.Field Sobriety Tests in Ohio
When an officer pulls a driver over on suspicion of DUI / OVI, there are a number of ways in which the driver’s sobriety can be evaluated. The officer can administer a breath test with a machine that measures the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The officer can also observe the driver’s behavior and demeanor. Another option is to administer a series of field sobriety tests. There are three field sobriety tests that Ohio law enforcement officials typically use when assessing whether someone is driving under the influence: the one leg stand test (OLS), the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN), and the walk and turn test (WAT). Each of these tests are meant to determine the level of mental and physical impairment that the driver may be suffering as a result of alcohol consumption. According to Ohio law, law enforcement must adhere to National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration laws when administering the tests, which involves providing clear instructions on how to perform each test and a demonstration to show the individual how the test works.
The HGN assesses movements in the eye to determine whether the individual has consumed alcohol. The officer will look for an involuntary jerking as the individual is asked to look from one side to the other without moving his or her head, typically while following the officer’s finger or pen. The officer must hold the pen or finger roughly 12-15 inches from the individua’s face and make 14 passes to assess the presence of involuntary jerking.
The WAT test involves asking the individual to walk along a straight line with his or her arms at his or her side while placing each foot heel-to-toe. The officer will position the individual at the start of the test and provide a verbal cue to begin walking. The individual will typically be asked to take nine steps before turning. During the turn, the individual must keep the front foot on the line and turn by taking a series of smaller steps with the other foot.
The OLS test requires the individual to raise either leg roughly six inches off the ground while keeping the raised foot parallel to the ground. Both arms must be held straight at the individual’s side. The individual will then be asked to count out loud while holding this physical position without looking at his or her raised foot.Asserting a Defense Based on Field Sobriety Testing
Although law enforcement officers undergo training to learn how to administer these tests appropriately and accurately, there are still instances where the test results are recorded improperly or where the officers fail to administer the tests correctly. If the officer fails to perform the test correctly, you may have grounds to have the charge against you thrown out or mitigated, and a skilled DUI / OVI attorney can help. The tests are not meant to be flexible, and are intended to be administered in the same manner each time. The information that the officer obtains during the test will be recorded in his or her police report and potentially admitted at trial as evidence of your intoxication. If there is an issue with how the officer performed the test, it is critical to challenge it early in the proceedings. Although you have the right to refuse to submit to a field sobriety test, you can still be arrested for driving while intoxicated. After being arrested, law enforcement can require you to submit to a chemical test such as a blood or urine test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC).Knowledgeable Cleveland Lawyers for DUI / OVI Charges
Having provided legal counsel to numerous individuals facing drunk driving charges, we know how overwhelmed you probably feel and how difficult it can be to know the best way to proceed. Although you may be tempted to speak with the law enforcement agency in an attempt to clear your name, sometimes this can make the situation worse, and you may be facing severe penalties. Our Cleveland attorneys offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and whether you may be able to assert a defense to have the charge dropped or reduced. We have substantial experience handling DUIs involving many different scenarios, which enables us to develop a strong defense on behalf of residents in Parma, Bedford, Rocky River, Berea, Garfield Heights, Stow, and Barberton. Schedule your free consultation by calling us at 216-520-5297 or contact us online to get started.