Like most states in the U.S., Ohio has very specific criminal laws when it comes to drinking and driving. In Ohio, operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is called OVI. Many people don’t realize this type of criminal offense is broken down into two categories. The first category is OVI Per Se – it’s what most people think of as drunk driving, where the operator of the vehicle has a blood alcohol content (BAC) higher than .08 based upon specific tests.
The second category is called OVI Impaired and does not require any breath or blood tests. Being arrested for this type of OVI only requires that a law enforcement officer believes you are impaired based upon that officer’s observations and experience with you. The officer may have you perform field sobriety tests, such as walking a straight line, if the officer suspects you have been drinking. Obviously, this is much more subjective than a breath or blood test.
Since an OVI Impaired stop is more subjective, you should know about the following ways to help protect yourself during such an investigatory stop:
1. Pull over and stay calm. When you see blue lights flashing behind you, safely pull your vehicle over, turn on an interior light, roll the driver’s side window down and place your hands in plain view, such as on the steering wheel. You want to appear non-threatening towards the officer, showing the officer that you intend to be compliant and aren’t flustered by a police presence.
2. Have identification and paperwork handy, such as license and registration. Hunting around in your vehicle for ID or having a glove compartment box crammed with junk will make you appear disorganized. This is a time when you want to appear calm, cool and collected.
3. Always be polite during your interactions with the officer. Do not swear, yell or be sarcastic at him or her, if you do, the officer will take greater interest in you.
Remember: Create a positive, well-put together impression of yourself for the officer. If you find yourself with legal questions about the state of Ohio’s OVI/DUI laws, contact Soroka & Associates, LLC, in Columbus. We’re here to help you solve your legal issues.