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Can drivers face OVI charges for sleeping it off?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2021 | DUI / OVI

Many states call drunk driving DUI, but others call it OVI, or operating a vehicle under the influence. Regardless of the terms that states use, the purpose of the laws is to combat drunk driving. In West Chester Township, Ohio, a driver can face charges for OVI even if they’re trying to “sleep it off” rather than actively driving.

Basic OVI laws

In Ohio, DUI and OVI laws set a few parameters that define an OVI, but each case is subjected to officer reasoning. A driver found with a BAC of 0.08 or greater or urine test of 0.11 or more may face a DUI or OVI charge. A BAC of 0.08 is called a per se OVI charge, meaning the officer doesn’t need proof that the driver had been under the influence.

A driver who shows impairment under the influence of drugs, controlled substances or a combination may face an OVI. State laws also consider drivers under the influence if they have a certain amount of a controlled substance in their bloodstream.

Physical control

One important aspect of OVI law in Ohio is physical control, or being in control of a vehicle even if it’s not in operation. This means that a driver can get charged just sitting in the vehicle with the key in the ignition if they are impaired by drugs or alcohol.

However, many courts often use the totality of circumstance to decide if the driver had control of the vehicle. Some important factors include location of the keys, location of the vehicle and location of the driver. A motorist found in the backseat of a vehicle parked in safe place will not likely face charges, for example. However, if they had the engine running to stay warm or they were parked on the side of a busy road, they could face charges.

Sleeping in a vehicle does not guarantee that a driver gets out of an OVI. If a driver thinks that the arresting officer made mistakes, a defense lawyer may help them fight the charges.