Big Changes Coming to Ohio’s DUI / OVI Law

April 6, 2017 marks a big change in OVI law in Ohio and how your case will be handled by the court. There are several changes that I will outlined below.  This change in the law was brought about by House Bill 388 and 436.  It was commonly referred to as the Ignition Interlock Bill or Annie’s Law.  An ignition interlock device is a breath testing unit that is installed on a vehicle and is meant to prevent anyone who has been drinking from operating that vehicle.  This is a device that is installed on the ignition of a car and it requires the driver to blow into it to start the vehicle.  The driver will also be prompted to continue to submit to breath tests while the vehicle is running.  If a minimum amount of alcohol is detected, the car will either not start or will shut down.

Prior to the April 6, 2017, if you take a breath test on your first OVI charge in a six-year time frame and test over the limit, you would be eligible to apply for limited privileges after 15 days or 30 days if you refused to take a breath test.  You would be facing a minimum suspension of six months with limited privileges.  For multiple convictions, the penalties increase significantly. 

After April 6, 2017:

  • The court can still grant limited privileges without an interlock device, but courts now can grant privileges for any purpose the court determines to be appropriate.
  • Prior to April 6, 2017, the mandatory suspensions that apply are:
    • First OVI Offense: 6 months to 3 years
    • Second OVI Offense: 1 to 5 years
    • Third OVI Offense: 2 to 10 years

After April 6, 2017, the mandatory suspensions that apply are:

  • First OVI Offense: 1 to 3 years
  • Second OVI Offense: 1 to 7 years
  • Third OVI Offense: 2 to 12 years
  • As an alternative to limited privileges, the court may grant “unlimited driving privileges” with an ignition interlock device. If the court does this, your ability to drive is not restricted at all.
  • If you are granted unlimited privileges with an ignition interlock device, you must also get a special driver’s license from the BMV that indicates you are required to have an interlock device.
  • While the minimum suspension for a first OVI doubled under the new law, the court may cut the suspension back to 6 months if the person is granted unlimited privileges with an ignition interlock device.
  • If you choose to install an interlock device and have unlimited privileges, any mandatory jail time related to the OVI must be suspended.
  • If you are granted unlimited privileges with an interlock device and you violate the terms of your privileges or attempt to drive after you have been drinking, the court shall impose the suspended jail time and double the license suspension or time without any driving privileges.
  • If you violate the terms of your privileges or the device reports the driver to have too much alcohol in their system in the last 60 days of their suspension, and the judge does not double the suspension, the judge is required to extend the suspension 60 days from the date of the violation.
  • Prior to April 6, 2017, if a person is convicted of two OVI offenses in a six-year time frame, they are subject to increased mandatory minimum penalties. After April 6, 2017, this time frame is extended to 10 years.
  • Prior to April 6, 2017, if a person is convicted of two OVI’s in a six-year time frame, they must have special yellow license plates on their vehicle designating them as a DUI driver in order to be able to exercise any driving privileges. After April 6, 2017, a person with a second OVI can be granted privileges without special plates.
  • However, if on a second OVI, that person is convicted of an OVI with a BAC in excess of .17 or a refusal of the test, they will still be required to have yellow DUI plates on their car in order to drive.
  • Prior to April 6, 2017, if a person is convicted of two OVI’s in a six-year time frame while operating their own car, that car is subject to a 90-day immobilization and it will be impounded, clubbed, or booted for three months despite that person’s eligibility for driving privileges after 45 days. After April 6, 2017, a person with a second OVI can have their car released from immobilization after 45 days when granted driving privileges at the court’s discretion.

The new law corrects a few problems in the law, but it also creates a few new issues.  Ignition interlock devices are not perfect and when a driver has one installed they are given a list of substances that can register a violation despite not having consumed alcohol.  These substances range from mouthwash to various food items.  This is concerning due to the new law’s requirement that if such a violation occurs the suspended jail time shall be imposed.  While “unlimited privileges” sounds nice to many people, it creates an issue for many areas of employment where the mere sight of such a device will cause someone to lose their job.  For this reason, it is essential to hire a DUI attorney who is up to date with all of the nuances of this frequently changes area of law.


The Role Of An Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney

In the state of Ohio, a criminal defense attorney plays several roles for their clients and can do a lot to help them avoid legal troubles. The attorney will let their client know what their rights are and explain to them how the legal process will play out in detail. They should also answer their client’s questions and make sure the client fully understands the answers.

Since attorneys have a better grasp of the state laws and procedures than almost anyone else, their experience plays an important role in getting the best results possible for those who hire them. Capable defense attorneys are the best protection average citizens have in their quest to defend themselves and without them, prosecutors and government officials would have no formidable opposition.

It is not the attorney’s job to decide if the individuals they represent are guilty or not, it is their duty to defend them to the best of their abilities since innocent people get charged with crimes as well. Those who are actually guilty of the crime they have been accused of still need protection from being hit with excessive penalties when they are sentenced.

Without good legal counsel, the guilty party does not stand a very good chance of making a case for themselves to be given the lightest sentence possible. The defense attorney does not have the burden of proof that the state has and they should do their best to keep their clients out of harm’s way and avoid having them testify or give unnecessary statements if there is any chance it will hurt their case.

Building a strong defense and getting all relevant information from the defendant and their witnesses, is another way an attorney can defend the client. Choosing the right witnesses to make contributions to the defense and showing the good qualities of their clients, is an important task that they attorney has been trained to accomplish.

Negotiating with the state prosecution team on the severity of the charges and doing their best to dismiss jurors that they feel will hold unfavorable views of their client, are jobs the defense attorney can do to turn the odds in your favor. The attorney should be able to convince the jury to judge the case based on the facts and not any outside opinion they may have about the defendant. If the attorney has a good relationship with the judge and everyone else involved it can go a long way towards getting their client the best outcome possible.

If a criminal defense lawyer in Ohio has a significant amount of experience, a strong awareness of state laws and procedures, and works hard to get their client out of a jam, then they can make the best out of a tough situation.