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What are the basics of Ohio's drunk driving laws?

There's a dizzying array of potential charges related to drunk driving in Ohio and many people -- even those living within the state -- are unaware of the changes in the terminology or how the rules work.

Here are a few of the most important things that you need to understand about drunk driving in Ohio:

1. Ohio's new terminology for drunk driving is actually "operating under the influence," (OVI). This language reflects the fact that you can be charged for driving under the influence of many things, not just alcohol - including drugs.

2. The police can generally obtain a warrant for blood or urine testing if you refuse to willingly consent to testing on your own. If you have drugs in your system in a specific concentration that's higher than what's legally allowed -- and many common drugs have strictly defined legal limits on those concentrations.

3. You do not have to be legally impaired according to any chart or specified concentration of drugs in your system to be arrested on an OVI charge. The only criteria for the arrest is whether or not you were operating the car in an impaired manner with any quantity of drugs or alcohol in your system.

4. Many attorneys recommend that drivers decline to take roadside sobriety tests, which are not mandatory. Those tests are filmed and exceptionally hard to pass even when sober if you have any degree of physical disability. For example, even age and osteoarthritis can make standing on one leg without swaying difficult! Film of you failing a roadside sobriety test, however, can be used as evidence that you were too impaired to be driving even with the tiniest amount of drugs or alcohol in your system.

5. Ohio is absolutely intolerant of drunk driving by those who are under the legal drinking age. "Operating a Vehicle After Underage Consumption," (OVAUC), is a serious offense. If you have a blood-alcohol content of more than .02 percent, you'll be arrested and charged. If convicted, you'll face up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine on your first offense. You'll also lose your license for anywhere between 90 days to 2 years and may have to have an ignition interlock device put on your car.

If you're charged with OVI or OVAUC in Ohio, get legal representation as quickly as possible.

Source: FindLaw, "Ohio OVI (DUI) Laws," accessed June 23, 2017

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