Most traffic cases in Ohio are classified as misdemeanor offenses, including OVI and DUI cases. The most serious traffic misdemeanors carry penalties that include a maximum jail sentence of six months in jail, and a $1,000 fine. However, depending on the circumstances of an OVI citation, the case may be classified as a felony offense instead of a misdemeanor.
I WAS CITED FOR AN OVI/DUI AND THE OFFICER STATED I WAS FACING FELONY CHARGES
FELONY OVI AND DUI CASES IN COLUMBUS
An OVI or DUI in Ohio becomes a felony case when someone cited for OVI or DUI has three or four prior OVI or DUI convictions in the past ten years. When a driver finds himself or herself in this situation, their case is not heard in the local municipal court, but the court of common pleas of the county the case originated in. In Columbus, the case will be brought in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
PENALTIES FOR FELONY OVI AND DUI CASES
Someone found guilty of a felony OVI or DUI faces a fourth-degree felony, and the judge on the case can impose significant sanctions including:
- $1,350 fine
- A minimum of 60 days, with the possibility of up to 5 years if a defendant has 5 prior OVIs or DUIs in the past 20 years
- Forfeiting your vehicle to the state
- A license suspension with a minimum of three years, and the possibility of a life time driving ban
- Mandated alcohol or addiction treatment
Any prior OVI or DUI felony convictions could result in being charged with a third-degree felony OVI or DUI which can lead to all of the same penalties as a fourth-degree, but a likelihood of substantial prison time.
CAN THE COLUMBUS OR HIGHWAY PATROL OFFICER FORCE ME TO TAKE A BLOOD TEST?
Someone charged with a felony OVI or DUI may believe it is in their best interest to decline a chemical test. Either from past experience or previous advice from an attorney, it is considered advantageous to decline chemical tests. Felony OVI’s would take the decision out of the driver’s hands.
Ohio law states that, “the police officer who made the arrest can use whatever reasonable means are necessary to make sure that the individual submits to the required test of the individuals blood.” Ohio Revised Code 4511.19(A)(5)
This means that an officer has the right to restrain a driver in order to obtain a blood sample to be tested for possible impairment. This law was challenged in Ohio when a Defendant appealed his OVI conviction on the grounds that a forced blood test violated his fourth amendment right against police intrusion.
- In State v. Slates, 2011-Ohio-295, The Ohio Court of Appeals ruled that forced blood draws were constitutional in Ohio because the need to determine if the driver was impaired following multiple OVI and DUI convictions outweighed the drivers expectation of privacy and police intrusion.
FIGHTING A FELONY OVI OR DUI CASE IN COLUMBUS
If you have been arrested and charged with a felony OVI or DUI, it is always recommended to speak to an attorney. An experienced attorney can present various defenses to OVI and DUI cases.
Some defenses include:
- Other explanations for the alleged “clues” of impairment
- Medical conditions the officer mistakes for impairment
- The officer incorrectly administering other field sobriety tests
It is important to contact an attorney who is knowledgeable about all possible defenses available to you. If you have questions about your Columbus criminal or OVI / DUI related charges, talk to our DUI defense attorneys at 614-361-2804.