A recent report published on the WalletHub.com website ranked the 50 states according to their overall strictness of impaired driving laws. The rankings took into consideration minimum sentences, mandatory jail time, fines and ignition interlock requirements, as well as the number of offenses allowed before the incident becomes a felony charge and numerous other factors.
Ohio ranked third most lenient. To some, it may sound as if operating a vehicle under the influence in this state is not too serious when compared to other states. However, here in Ohio, the consequences of an OVI conviction may still wreak havoc in your life. If you are facing an OVI or DUI charge in Ohio, it really doesn't matter how other states handle the same offense.
"Lenient" penalties are still tough
A state police spokesperson defended Ohio's ranking, citing the expense of hiring chemists to analyze BAC levels as one potential reason for the low score. He also disputed the test's conclusion that Ohio is the 47th worst state for DUI prevention. Despite the report's low ranking, there are many reasons why you are right to feel concerned about an OVI arrest and take steps to avoid a conviction, for example:
- Ohio recently extended its time limit for looking back on previous offenses from six years to 10.
- After a second OVI, you will have to install a costly ignition interlock system in your car.
- A third OVI will likely result in law enforcement confiscating your vehicle.
- Ohio law requires mandatory jail time, even for a first conviction.
- Your license will be suspended for 90 days if you are convicted of an OVI offense.
Safety advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) continue to put pressure on judges to exercise their prerogative to hand down the most severe penalties. MADD also urges legislators to tighten laws dealing with impaired drivers.
Can you afford the risk?
Last year, 1,133 people died in Ohio traffic accidents, and 392 of those accidents involved an impaired driver. Because of this, the best advice is always to avoid operating a motor vehicle after you have been drinking alcohol.
Nevertheless, an OVI arrest doesn't necessarily mean a conviction, even if a breath test says you are over the limit. Facing these charges alone may place you in a situation you are not prepared to handle. To ensure you have the best advantage when fighting an OVI charge, you may wish to seek the advice of an experienced attorney.