Recent Ohio Supreme Court Ruling Impacts OVI Suspensions

on a case out of Hamilton County

Short for “operating a vehicle impaired,” the term OVI refers to any charge pertaining to driving a motor vehicle while impaired. This is very similar to a DUI (driving under the influence). In the state of Ohio, the law recognizes both OVI and DUI charges separately. In addition to motor vehicles, you can also receive an OVI if you’re riding a bike, a carriage and other types of “vehicles” in a similar condition. Just because there is no motor present doesn’t mean an OVI doesn’t apply to you.

While a DUI is fairly straightforward (you were driving a car with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or more), there is still a lot of confusion surrounding what an OVI is and how you can get one. Thankfully, a recent decision from the Ohio Supreme Court has shed a bit of additional light on this that you should be aware of moving forward.

OVI Changes to Be Aware Of

In the state of Ohio, the law dictates that anyone who has previously received an OVI suspension cannot operate any motor vehicle on public roads or highways within Ohio for the mandated amount of time. In most situations, this is roughly one to three years for your first conviction. If you receive a second conviction, the period may be anywhere from one to seven years. The third conviction would result in a suspension period of between two and 12 years, with penalties naturally increasing thereafter.

The key point of confusion in all of this, however, seemed to be the word “operate.” In a recent 4-3 ruling on a case out of Hamilton County, the Ohio Supreme Court formally indicated that you are not actually violating the terms and conditions of your OVI suspension if the vehicle in question isn’t moving.

The case had to do with a woman in the area who was accused of violating her OVI suspension. She was sentenced to three days in jail and had to pay a $250 fine. All of this occurred even though there was no tangible evidence that the woman had moved the car at all.

Justice Jennifer Brunner indicated that the word “operate” is defined as “to cause or actuate the working of” in relation to something like a car. The entire point of owning a car is to move it around and drive it on roads. If those conditions have not been met, the car was not in “operation” – thus the woman was not in violation of her OVI suspension. To violate it, someone can’t just have “physical control” over the motor vehicle. They would have to be causing or have been proven to cause movement.

In the aforementioned case, that was not proven to have happened and therefore her situation was successfully appealed. It has also set a precedent that many in the legal profession will be following moving forward, with the criminal defense attorney Bowling Green team at Potter Law being chief among them.

Potter Law: Your Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’re looking for a DUI attorney Bowling Green for a situation like the one outlined above, or if you’d just like to speak to a criminal lawyer Findlay about your own situation in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact the team at Potter Law today.