Do I really need to hire an attorney if I have been charged with OVI? The short answer is “maybe.” The first thing you do need to do however, is to meet with an attorney who is knowledgeable about: the current OVI laws, the court that you will be going to and who isn’t just another greedy lawyer looking to make a quick buck.
There are many websites for attorneys that can provide you with some fundamental information about Ohio’s OVI laws. However, every court is different so it is important to know what to expect from the prosecutor that will be prosecuting your case, the judge who will be ruling on certain issues and possibly sentencing you if you are convicted, and finally, any probation department that you may have to deal with if convicted. Most of this information will only come from talking to an attorney who regularly practices in the court you will be going to.
An aggressive (and honest) OVI attorney will be able to assess the facts of your case and indicate whether they think the case is worth fighting. Fighting an OVI can be a lengthy and very costly adventure if you have the right attorney. But as the credit card commercial says, something are “priceless,” such as hearing a jury say “Not Guilty.”
If it is your first lifetime OVI offense, many judges will give the minimum mandatory sentence upon a plea of guilty or no contests, but again, you will want to talk to a local attorney to get an understanding of how your judge normally sentences first offenders. Also, if you have a breath test of 0.17 or higher, there are additional sanctions such as extra jail and the “special license plates” (aka, scarlet letter, or party plates).
There have been many clients that I have met with and told what to expect if they plead guilty and have also told these same potential clients that if they aren’t interested in fighting the charge, then as a first offender they very well may not need an attorney. This is a determination that I make on a case by case basis and is NOT applicable to every situation.
For those who are facing a second offense OVI, no matter if it’s a second within 6 years or a 2nd withing 20 years, I will always recommend that you have counsel present at ALL phases of the case.