The term OVI (Operating a Vehicle while Impaired) is the latest acronym for the universally understood DUI; they mean the same thing. Often you will find yourself charged with two DUI type offenses: the first is for testing over the per se limit, and the second charge for operating a vehicle while impaired. In Ohio, driving under the influence includes driving while intoxicated with too much alcohol, or driving under the influence of a drug of abuse. The traditional offense is "driving under the influence of alcohol" (DUI). Ohiohas also enacted a second, so-called "per se" offense: driving with an excessive blood-alcohol concentration (.08%). In Ohio, BOTH offenses are usually charged.
A jury instruction which is given at every D.U.I. trial states,
- UNDER THE INFLUENCE. "Under the influence means that the defendant consumed some (alcohol)(drug of abuse)(alcohol and a drug of abuse), whether mild or potent, in such a quantity, whether small or great, that it adversely affected and appreciably impaired the defendant's actions, reactions, or mental processes under the circumstances then existing and deprived him of that clearness of intellect and control of himself which he would otherwise have possessed. The question is not how much (alcohol)(drug of abuse)(alcohol and a drug of abuse) would affect an ordinary person. The question is what effect did any (alcohol)(drug of abuse)(alcohol and a drug of abuse), consumed by the defendant, have on him at the time and place involved. If the consumption of (alcohol)(drug of abuse)(alcohol and a drug of abuse) so affected the nervous system, brain, or muscles of the defendant so as to impair, to an appreciable degree, his ability to operate the vehicle, then the defendant was under the influence.
Driving with a prohibited concentration of alcohol in your blood breath or urine is a separate offense under Ohio law. If you have ever heard anyone refer to "blowing above a .08" they are referring to the most common test administered by law enforcement today, the breath test. Revised Code section 4511.19 sets forth the elements of Ohio’s tough DUI law (Note: The Ohio legislature has changed the universally understood “DUI” with the acronym “OVI). In Ohio, the legal limit for persons 21 and over is any of the following:
- .08 or more by weight of alcohol in blood;
- .08 of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath;
- .11 of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of urine;
- .17 of one per cent or more by weight of alcohol in the person’s blood:
- .17 of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of the person’s breath:
- .238 of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of the person’s urine.
The .17 threshold is used to enhance the penalties for “higher test” offenders, doubling the jail time at each tier of the sentencing.
As can be seen from the definition provided to the jury, some subjectivity does come into play. A skillful prosecutor will attempt to narrow this definition. It will be up to your attorney to demonstrate to the jury that your ability to drive was not impaired at the time of arrest. It is important to understand that you can be in violation of the law by simply being under the influence. The officer does not need to test your blood breath or urine if he/she believes that sufficient evidence exists for your arrest. Current Ohio law makes driving with above a .08% concentration of alcohol a separate offense for which you can be convicted. The law prevents "operation" of a "vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley" "anywhere in the state." "Operation" of the vehicle can include pulling over to the side of the road to "sleep it off" while the car is running and can include simply sitting behind the wheel of the vehicle with the motor off and the key in the ignition. Besides a car, truck or van a person can be found guilty of D.U.I. in Ohio by "operating" a bicycle, a snowmobile, or a golf cart. Unlike other laws which require operation of the vehicle on public highways or areas open to the public, DUI. convictions can come "anywhere in the state." Convictions have been upheld for operation on a private shopping center parking lot, a private driveway or your own property.