A driving under the influence charge is no mere speeding ticket. A conviction for what the laws of my state call operating a vehicle while intoxicated or OVI can land you in jail and cost you several thousand dollars. You might even lose your job and suffer other serious consequences.
Whatever technical name is used where you live for the alleged offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs—DUI, DWI, OVI, OWI—you must mount a vigorous defense. Hiring an experienced Columbus criminal defense lawyer will help in at least five ways.
Police, Courts and Prosecutors Treat Driving Under the Influence like a Criminal and traffic Offense
In Ohio, where I practice, an arrest for suspicion of drunk or drugged driving results in a misdemeanor charge. Drivers can be taken into custody and held in a cell for a day or longer until they go to an arraignment hearing and get scheduled for further criminal proceedings. At a minimum, you will appear before a judge at least once. The time to start planning a DUI defense with a criminal attorney is as soon as possible following your arrest.
Penalties for a DUI Conviction Go Well Beyond Fines
A first-time DUI conviction for a driver older than 21 in Ohio can include
- Mandatory three days in jail or a driver intervention program and up to 180 days in jail,
- Criminal fines up to $1,075,
- A 12-month license suspension or longer during which driving privileges are strictly limited,
- Six penalty points on your driver’s license,
- Court-ordered substance abuse education and treatment,
- Mandatory use of an ignition interlock device that requires the driver to do a breath test to keep the engine running, and
- Mandatory use a specially designed DUI offender license plates.
The person under penalty must pay for treatment, court fees, and the ignition interlock, and they will see their insurance premiums skyrocket.
Driving Under the Influence Can Cost You Your Job
The license suspension for a DUI conviction also applies to your commercial driver’s license. This will be true even if you got pulled over while driving your own car. Needless to say, losing a CDL often translates into being let go.
People who don’t drive for a living may also need to worry about their employability after they receive a DUI conviction. Employers, as well as colleges, often check for criminal and traffic records.
The Evidence Against You May Not Be as Strong as the Prosecutor Claims
Several effective defenses against a drunk or drugged driving charge exist. While putting together a DUI defense,Columbus dui lawyer, criminal attorney will look into whether police had probable cause to make a traffic stop, as well as how officers conducted and interpreted field sobriety tests.
Other questions your lawyer will ask include
- How were breath, blood, and urine tests conducted?
- Were the testing devices recently calibrated and used correctly?
- Were blood and urine samples handled, analyzed, and stored properly?
- What did retests of blood and urine samples show?
- Did officers explain the right to refuse breath, blood, and urine tests?
- Were the consequences of refusing the tests fully explained?
- Do health conditions explain poor performance on field sobriety tests?
- Are any drugs involved in the case being taken by prescription and as prescribed?
Identifying errors by officers and pointing out inconclusive test results can lead to having a DUI charge dismissed or reduced to a less-serious offense.
Negotiating aBeneficial Plea Deal May Be Possible
Prosecutors often ask the people they charge with driving under the influence if they are willing to plead guilty to another charge in order to avoid a criminal trial and keep a DUI off their record. Accepting the offer may or may not make sense.The benefit of a plea comes down to your specific circumstances. A plea to, say, physical control, Columbus traffic lawyer or reckless operation may or may not be a good option for you. Negotiating a plea with input from a criminal defense attorney will protect you from acting against your own best interest.