A drunk driving arrest can be a very confusing ordeal. Whether you recognize that you were driving after drinking too much or you believe you were not too impaired to drive, a charge of operating a vehicle under the influence can disrupt your life and leave you with a difficult road ahead. While you may want to think about the situation as little as possible, the most effective way to build a solid defense begins by understanding as much as possible about Ohio drunk driving laws.
To begin with, you should know what evidence authorities need to charge you with OVI. Police must present evidence of your impairment to support their case for arrest. However, that evidence is not always reliable, and you have the right to challenge it in court as you fight the charges against you.
.08 per se limit
Ohio, like most other states, has a legal limit for the concentration of alcohol in a driver's system. A blood alcohol concentration of .08 or above is legally impaired per se. Per se laws mean that if your BAC is .08, police do not need other evidence that you are intoxicated in order to arrest you. It does not matter how few or how many drinks you had, whether you pass any roadside tests, or if you did not show any signs of impairment. A .08 BAC by itself is enough.
Of course, the methods police use to measure your BAC will be an important factor to investigate. BAC devices may be poorly calibrated, officers administering the tests may be untrained or any number of other factors may affect the validity of your test results. Just because your BAC measures .08 does not mean you have no room to fight the charges. You have every reason to build a strong defense.
Lower per se limit for young drivers
If you are younger than 21, which is the legal drinking age in Ohio, you can expect the consequences of an OVI to be much more severe. To start, the per se BAC limit for an underage driver is .02, not .08. This may amount to drinking a single beer. A conviction for underage OVI means losing your license and a host of other penalties that can jeopardize your future.
Per se laws are complicated. In fact, your BAC may measure well below the per se limit, but if police determine your actions or behavior indicate impairment, you may still find yourself facing OVI charges. No drunk driving charge is minor. They all carry serious penalties, and you would be wise to seek legal assistance as early as possible after your arrest.