COLUMBUS DUI DEFENSE

Columbus DUI lawyer

Riddell Law is a leading Columbus DUI and criminal defense firm.  Columbus DUI attorney Douglas Riddell has been repeatedly recognized in the field of DUI and criminal defense in Ohio, including:

If you would like to schedule a Columbus DUI attorney consultation, please give us a call or fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

Having practiced DUI and criminal defense in both the Franklin County Municipal Court and Columbus-area mayor’s courts for many years, Columbus DUI attorney Douglas Riddell compiled the following list of Frequently Asked Questions about DUIs in Columbus.  

DO I NEED TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY TO HELP WITH MY COLUMBUS DUI CHARGE?

Columbus DUI attorney FAQs

A DUI in Ohio is a very serious charge — even for a first offense.  Penalties could include mandatory jail time, fines, loss of your driver’s license as well as other consequences to your employment.  Whether your case is in the Franklin County Municipal Court or in a mayor’s court, speaking with an attorney about your options for your Columbus DUI charge is highly recommended.  

Many Columbus DUI attorneys (including our firm) provide free initial consultations.  You should at the very least speak with an attorney so that you understand the potential penalties you are facing and your possible options going forward.  Even if you don’t decide to hire a Columbus DUI attorney, it is at the very least empowering to know your options in court. 

 

WHAT ARE SOME POTENTIAL DEFENSES TO A COLUMBUS DUI CHARGE?

When a new DUI client walks into our office, one of the first things we ask is what happened.  We want to know the facts underlying the stop, any search performed, any tests taken, any conversations between our client and the police, as well as examine any paperwork given to our client by the police.  With this information, we begin to analyze potential defenses to the OVI charge.  A few examples of possible OVI defenses include:

 (1) The Initial Stop or Search. One of the first things we look for is whether the initial stop by the police violated in any way our client’s constitutional right to be free of unlawful search or seizure.  In the case of a traffic stop, did the officer have reasonable suspicion that you had committed a traffic or criminal offense?  Was there an anonymous tip or another insufficient reason to stop you? Click here for more information about when the police are allowed to stop, pull you over, and/or question you

If not, the stop may have violated your Fourth Amendment rights. The police are not allowed to pull you over just because they have a hunch that you look suspicious.  They have to be able to point to specific facts supporting their suspicion that you have committed a traffic or criminal offense.  If they can’t, then anything that happened once they stopped you cannot be submitted into evidence (including, for example, any field sobriety test results or breathalyzer results).

(2) Breathalyzer Machine.  Was there a problem with the administration or calibration of the breathalyzer machine?  If the breathalyzer was not properly calibrated before or after your test, the result could be invalid.  

(3) Urine or Blood Tests.  Driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs is an increasing focus of Columbus police and Ohio State Highway Patrol.  An increasing number of cases involve urine tests, which present unique issues to be examined by defense counsel.  Were the urine or blood tests properly collected?  Were they contaminated in any way?  Was there any other food or medication that could have influenced the result?

(4) Field Sobriety Tests.  Was the officer properly trained in field sobriety testing? Did the officer demonstrate and administer all of the tests correctly?  If the officer made a mistake in explaining or demonstrating the tests, the results could be thrown out. 

(5) Video, Reports and other Evidence.  Once we obtain a copy of the video of the stop, does it clearly show the field sobriety tests?  Was there some reason that the field sobriety tests were not recorded?  

If field sobriety tests were performed, but not corroborated by video evidence, this may be another potential area of defense.  Video evidence is often the key to establishing a strong defense – as in this OVI case, which was dismissed based on video evidence.

 

CAN I LOOK UP MY COLUMBUS DUI CASE ONLINE?

Yes.  If your case was filed in the Franklin County Municipal Court, you can look up your case record online here.   Just type in your information and the website should pull up the court docket in your case.  This will let you know the status of your case, whether a warrant has been issued and any other relevant facts about your case.  There can be some legalese.  If you have any questions, you can always call one of our Columbus DUI attorneys at (614) 361-2804.

SHOULD I JUST GO TO COURT ON MY OWN AND PLEAD NO CONTEST?

The “no contest” plea is often misunderstood.  In almost every case, if you plead no contest to your DUI charge, the judge will find you guilty almost immediately thereafter.  A “no contest” plea means you are admitting to all of the facts alleged in the complaint.  What’s more, you give up your right to a trial and your right to put on witnesses in your defense. 

For example, in the case of a DUI, the complaint might allege that you had glassy eyes, that you had a strong odor of alcohol, that you were slurring your words, that you failed the field sobriety tests, or that you blew over the legal limit.  If you plead “no contest,” then you are admitting that all of these facts are true.  The judge will in almost every case have no choice but to find you guilty. 

For a more detailed explanation of no contest pleas, take a look at our articleShould I Just Plead No Contest”?

WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM SENTENCE FOR AN OVI CONVICTION IN OHIO?

The maximum penalties for an OVI conviction vary depending on whether you are a first time offender or have prior OVI convictions on your record.

If you are a first time offender and you are found guilty of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI), it is usually charged as a first degree misdemeanor.  That means that it would carry a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a $1000 fine.  Other penalties could include probation, community service requirements, ignition interlock, license suspension, higher ago insurance rates as well as could impact your employment or educational opportunities.

If you are found guilty of a second OVI, the penalties increase.  Ohio law requires that if you are convicted of a second OVI offense, you must serve a mandatory at least 10 days in jail, with a maximum sentence of 6 months.   If you have a “high test” (a BAC of .17 or higher), penalties may double as well.

IF I HIRE YOUR LAW FIRM FOR MY COLUMBUS DUI, WHAT WILL YOUR ATTORNEYS DO TO HELP DEFEND AGAINST MY DUI CHARGES?

First, remember that we do offer a free initial consultation.  At that initial meeting, we will discuss the details of your Columbus DUI case and begin to identify potential legal issues based on your recollections.   If you decide to hire us, the case will likely proceed like this:

(1) ARRAIGNMENT: YOUR FIRST COURT APPEARANCE

Columbus DUI arraignment court

After you are arrested, the court is required by law to formally tell you the charges the prosecutor is bringing against you.  This is also the time in which you must plead “guilty” or “not guilty.”  Ideally, you will have obtained a Columbus DUI attorney prior to your arraignment so that he or she can either appear on your behalf (they can often waive your appearance so you don’t have to take off work) or go with you to the court.  

If you hire Columbus DUI attorney Douglas Riddell for your Franklin County DUI, he would likely enter a not guilty plea on your behalf in front of one of the Franklin County Municipal Court judges.   At this first appearance, if you hire our DUI firm, we would also likely address your Ohio Administrative License Suspension also at this time.  In other words, we would either seek an appeal of the suspension, a stay of the suspension, or relief through driving privileges.  

(2) DISCOVERY: WE FIND OUT WHAT EVIDENCE THE PROSECUTOR HAS IN YOUR CASE. 

Your case will now enter the discovery phase.  Attorney Douglas Riddell will likely then ask the prosecutor for all of the evidence his or her office has against you.  The Columbus or municipal (if transferred from an Ohio mayor’s court) prosecutor’s office is required to give us everything they have–including any evidence showing that you were not impaired.

(3) OUR ATTORNEYS BEGIN EVALUATING THE EVIDENCE

Now is when having a Columbus DUI attorney is really important.  For our clients, in this phase, we start digging into the evidence the Columbus City Prosecutor has provided, as well as talking to witnesses in our own investigation.  The police report, the cruiser video, witness statements, results from the breathalyzer or urine test could all have possible weaknesses that we could exploit.  

Here is where we identify all possible defenses and start really building your case.

(4) PRETRIAL CONFERENCE

The pretrial is chance to meet with the judge and the prosecutor to discuss the status of the case and any pending issues.  For example, we might discuss whether all discovery, videos, and other evidence have been handed over. Also, we may discuss pending motions (see below), continue negotiations with the Columbus or municipal prosecutor, and address our client’s eligibility for driving privileges (if this was not already covered at the arraignment).

(5) OUR DUI ATTORNEYS FILE AND ARGUE MOTIONS

Once we identify weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, we may need to file a motion to suppress or other motion to the judge or magistrate to argue that the results of the breathalyzer or other sobriety test should be excluded at trial. Whether and how motion practice will be used in your case will depend on the details of your arrest.  Motion practice can be quite effective in helping to bring along negotiations with the prosecutor’s office.

(6) NEGOTIATION WITH THE PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE

At this stage, Attorney Douglas Riddell will take our arguments to the prosecutor and explain why their office should dismiss or reduce the charges given the flaws in their case.  Depending on the evidence, the prosecutor will sometimes agree to dismiss or reduce the charges. Other times, the prosecutor will refuse to budge and that brings us to our final step.

(7) TRIAL 

If the case cannot be resolved by negotiation, it will proceed to trial.  In the Franklin County Municipal Court, you can have your case heard to the judge or to a jury of eight.  The prosecutor must prove you were impaired beyond a reasonable doubt and all eight jurors must agree on your guilt. 

Attorney Doug Riddell regularly represents clients facing DUI charges in Franklin County, Ohio.  In Ohio, a DUI charge is called an “OVI” – meaning “operating a vehicle under the influence.”  

 

MY TICKET SAYS I WAS CHARGED WITH AN “OVI.”   IS THAT DIFFERENT THAN A DUI?

DUI and OVI are essentially interchangeable terms, but there is a reason why they are called OVIs here in Ohio.  See our FAQs explaining OVI v. DUI if you would like to know more.

 

MY TICKET SAYS MY CASE IS IN THE FRANKLIN COUNTY MUNICIPAL COURT.  WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Columbus traffic sign - DUI attorney

If you have been charged with a DUI (OVI) in Columbus, your case will likely be filed in the Franklin County Municipal Court.  The Court is located at  375 South High Street in downtown Columbus, Ohio.  Nearly every day, Columbus DUI Attorney Doug Riddell is at the Franklin County Municipal Court representing his clients facing DUI / OVI and other misdemeanor charges.

Doug Riddell regularly appears before all of the Franklin County Municipal Judges, including Judge Barrows, Judge Brandt, Judge Glaeden, Judge Green, Judge Herbert, Judge Hummer, Judge O’Grady, Judge Peeples, Judge Pollitt, Judge Salerno, Judge Taylor, Judge Tyack, Judge VanDerKarr and Judge Young.

The Franklin County Municipal Court (located in the heart of Columbus) is one of the largest and busiest municipal courts in the state of Ohio.  In 2011 alone, more than 125,000 criminal, traffic and environmental cases were filed in the municipal court.

For defendants, this means that the process in Franklin County can be very stressful and overwhelming.  For example, there are frequently long lines and often cattle call appearance times.  Hiring an attorney to help you navigate this fast-paced and hectic court system is invaluable.

Columbus DUI Attorney Doug Riddell has significant experience defending clients facing DUI / OVI charges in the Franklin County Municipal Court.  He knows the system inside and out and can offer unique insight into your best options for beating or reducing your charges.

I WOULD LIKE A FREE CONSULTATION WITH A COLUMBUS DUI ATTORNEY.  WHO SHOULD I CALL?

Fill out the questionnaire below and one of our attorneys will contact you as soon as possible to discuss the details of your case.  If you would like to speak with a Columbus DUI lawyer right away, call 614-361-2804.  We are on call 24/7 to answer questions about DUI cases in Columbus.   

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NOT GUILTY DUI Jury Verdict.  Our client was pulled over at 2:44 AM for expired tags. Upon pulling him over, the officer testified that our client’s eyes were glassy and that he smelled an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the car . . . Read More


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