First DUI Offense
What Is A First DUI Offense?
DUI IS AN abbreviation for driving under the influence. In Ohio, we use the abbreviation OVI, which means operating a vehicle while impaired. Other common abbreviations people use are DWI and OMVI. These abbreviations essentially mean the same thing. Most people associate a DUI charge with drunk driving, but driving impaired can also include illegal and prescription drugs.
A first dui offense under the Ohio Revised Code means that you have had no other DUI convictions within the last 6 years. This is the main look back period used in Ohio. A first DUI / OVI offense is not as serious as a second or third DUI / OVI offense. Under some city codes, like the City of Columbus, there is a lifetime look back for prior DUI / OVI convictions. The officer can charge you with OVI / DUI if you have a 0.08 level or higher on a breath test.
You can also be charged if the officer witnessed signs of your driving being impaired and then determines that you failed the field sobriety tests. If your breath test is a 0.17 or higher you will be charged with a high test OVI / DUI charge that has a stiffer penalty than a regular first OVI / DUI charge.
First DUI Offense Penalties
IF YOU ARE CONVICTED of operating a vehicle under the influence for the first time in the state of Ohio, then you can spend anywhere from 3 to 180 days in jail. There is a mandatory minimum penalty of 3 days in jail or a 72 hour driver intervention program (DIP). The minimum fine is $375 plus any court costs. Additionally, there is a 6 month minimum license suspension for driving under the influence. You can obtain driving privileges for work and school. There are also increased penalties provided if you refused the breath, or other test, or if you had a high test and you have had a prior DUI / OVI conviction within the past 20 years. Additional penalties include 6 points on your license and probation is possible within the Judge’s discretion. Most people choose to do the DIP so they can avoid any jail time. The DIP occurs usually at a hotel or treatment center. There is also a reinstatement fee due to the BMV to get your license reinstated after the suspension is over. Unfortunately, the current amount for this reinstatement fee is $475.00.
DUI/OVI Case Process
INITIALLY, THE OFFICER will more than likely put you under an administrative license suspension (ALS). It may be possible to get a stay on this suspension pending resolution of the case. Your DUI attorney will submit a discovery request and take a look at any evidence the prosecutor has. This includes the police report, witness statements, and in many cases a video of the field sobriety tests (FSTs). Your DUI lawyer will properly evaluate the case and determine whether a Motion to suppress evidence can be filed as well. The officer has to follow certain guidelines when conducting the FSTs, and must have probable cause to pull you over. Also, the equipment that is being used, such as the breath test machine, must be working properly as well.
ARRAIGNMENT IS YOUR initial court appearance. Cases can be resolved at this stage of the case if a plea bargain is reached. Your OVI attorney may be able to negotiate a reduced charge such as physical control or reckless operation of a motor vehicle. If a plea bargain cannot be reached then a not guilty plea will be entered and the matter will be set out for another court date.
PRETRIAL WILL BE your next court date if a not guilty plea was entered in arraignment. This is still a preliminary court date where your attorney will be able to obtain any additional discovery (any evidence they have against you), and talk to the prosecutor about the case. The case can be resolved at the pretrial phase if a plea bargain is reached. If a proper resolution cannot be reached then the matter will usually be set out for a trial date.
THE TRIAL DATE IS usually the last court date for your case unless a prior deal was reached and the matter was set out for a sentencing date. At the trial date a plea bargain can still be reached without the need for an actual trial. If a trial is necessary, the trial would usually start in the afternoon depending on the Court’s schedule.
SENTENCING DATE – sometimes it is necessary and in your best interests to schedule a sentencing date. This date can be set at any stage of the case in order to give you time to complete certain requirements of your case. One example would be if you plea guilty to an OVI it would give you time to complete your driver intervention program thereby avoiding any probation on your case.