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An OVI Operating a Vehicle while Impaired is how it’s defined by statute. The two main OVI sections are what’s known as the 451119(A)(i)(a) charge, the Ohio Revised Code, which is an opinion-based OVI. So, in other words, when you are on scene, and the officer places you under arrest, they are saying based on their opinion, observation, and experience, you were appreciably impaired and should not have been operating a motor vehicle. You are arrested on-scene before you’re allowed to take a breath test, and that’s probably another significant misconceptions about OVIs. So you’re arrested on-scene, and then they will take you back to the station after you’ve been arrested and offer to allow you to take a breath test. If you’ve never been arrested for an OVI before and you refuse to take a breath test, you don’t get any additional charges, and it’s just the A1a charge.
If you take a breath test and are over the prohibited level, which is a 0.08 in Ohio, you get a second OVI charge, the per se limit charge.
In Ohio, an OVI or DUI could apply to any impairment, so it could even include marijuana or other drugs (legal and illegal). Most of the prohibited drugs also have a per se limit, so if you should be arrested on-scene, then offered a urine or blood test, and if those prohibited levels came back over, then you’d be cited for a second charge.
When it comes to alcohol, typically, the first thing they do is have you get out of the vehicle if they smell alcohol after making the stop. Then the officer will put you through the standardized field sobriety testing or the SFSTs. One of the 3 tests is known as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. People refer to that test as the Pen test or the Eye test. Essentially, the officers are looking for an involuntary jerking in your eye. The second test they will do is a Walk and Turn test where you take nine steps up and nine steps back. The third standardized field sobriety test is the One Leg Stand test, where they’ll have you stand on one leg and time you for approximately 30 seconds.
Those are the only standardized field sobriety tests for alcohol, and sometimes they’ll also have you do an alphabet test or numbers test where they have you recite part of the alphabet or numbers or things like that. Those are not standardized testing. The biggest thing that the potential clients need to know about all of these test including standardized field sobriety tests, is they are OPTIONAL! I always recommend that people decline to take standardized field sobriety testing. The reason being is there are numerous reasons why somebody may not do well on these tests that have nothing to do with alcohol whatsoever.
Now, if you refuse to take these standardized field sobriety tests in an alcohol-related case, the officer will likely arrest you, but they have less to present at trial. So, you generally have a stronger case if a person refuses to take these standardized field sobriety testing.
When it comes to a drug impairment case, there are other tests they can do, which a drug recognition officer generally handles. They are much more precise and sophisticated, but if an officer is trying to arrest you for a drug-related OVI and they’re putting you through the standardized field sobriety testing for alcohol, there’ve been no tests at all that correlate standardized field sobriety testing to drug impairment. So, although officers will do them a lot for drug-impaired cases, these standardized field sobriety testing are not applicable because there is a whole different set of tests that they can run on you for the drug impairment cases. Similar to the standardized field sobriety tests for alcohol, I would not do any testing at all for drug impairment either. They are optional, which the officers will never tell you.
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