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If you are facing your first DUI / OVI, chances are that you have many questions and that you are seriously worried about how the charge may affect your future. For the most part, drivers don’t anticipate facing a DUI /OVI charge when they get their license and go about their daily business. In many instances, the driver may have only had one or two additional drinks compared to what they typically have, putting their blood alcohol content over the legal limit. Contrary to what TV shows often depict, you can be fairly coherent and still be charged with a DUI / OVI if your blood alcohol content exceeds Ohio’s legal limit of 0.08. As dedicated Cleveland DUI attorneys serving residents of Akron and other areas of Cuyahoga County, we are prepared to help you protect your rights and your future following a first-time DUI / OVI charge.Understanding Ohio’s DUI Laws
In Ohio, the offense of driving while intoxicated is called operating a vehicle while under the influence, or OVI. A first-time DUI / OVI charge will typically be treated as a first-degree misdemeanor with a mandatory jail sentence of at least three days. You may be able to defer jail if you are eligible to participate in a driver intervention program. The judge has the option of sentencing you to a maximum of 180 days in jail if the circumstances surrounding your charge were particularly egregious. An example of this would be evidence showing that you knew you were too intoxicated to drive but chose to do so anyway.
On top of jail time, you may also be required to pay a fine of at least $375 but no more than $1,075. The court may also require you to install an ignition interlock device in your car and to participate in a probation program.
On top of the penalties that you face from the court, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles will impose a license suspension and assign six points to your driving record. If you accrue a certain number of points, you face repercussions like extended license suspensions or a complete prohibition against your driving privileges.Pleading Guilty or Not Guilty
After you are arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving, you will be arraigned. During this process, the judge will ask whether you plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against you. If you plead guilty, the judge will proceed to determining your sentence. If you plead not guilty, the matter turns to a trial. It is critical to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before entering a plea so that you understand your situation and how your response may impact your permanent record. In some cases, the prosecution may be willing to offer a plea bargain, which is a form of compromise.
You may be tempted to work with the authorities at the time of your arrest or following your arrest, but sometimes talking can cause more harm than good. When you are arrested, you are not required to speak with the authorities, and you have the right to consult a lawyer and to have your lawyer present during questioning. A lawyer may be able to help you identify any defenses that apply in your situation. A defense can result in the charges against you being reduced or dropped entirely. One example of a defense is showing that the breathalyzer equipment that the police were using at the time they arrested you was not calibrated properly, which means that the breathalyzer test results were likely inaccurate. The police must also follow specific procedures when they administer a field sobriety test, and if this process is not followed perfectly then your charge may also be reduced or dropped.Speak with a Seasoned Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer in Cleveland
Whether you are facing a first-time DUI / OVI charge or a subsequent charge, our compassionate and understanding team of criminal defense lawyers are ready to help you defend your rights in Cleveland. We serve individuals facing drunk driving charges throughout the region including in Parma, Bedford, Rocky River, Berea, Stow, Garfield Heights, and Barberton. To schedule your free and confidential consultation, call us at 216-520-5297 or contact us online.