For legal purposes, the Ohio state government has transitioned away from more conventional terms like driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated. The term for impaired driving in the state is operating a vehicle under the influence, or OVI. Here is what you should know about OVI laws in Ohio.
What are the criteria for OVI?
OVI laws in Ohio are stricter than many drivers might realize. While tests to detect alcohol on the breath are still employed routinely in traffic stops, all that is actually required for an officer to make an arrest is a failed field sobriety test.
Officers administer field sobriety tests by requiring drivers to do a series of physical and mental tasks to measure their driving capabilities. If you refuse a breath test and fail a field sobriety test, you might still be arrested.
What drugs are included in OVI laws?
Alcohol is by no means the only substance included in OVI laws. Operating a motor vehicle in Ohio under the influence of illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or others is a criminal offense. The law also includes legal drugs such as medical marijuana, even if you have a prescription, along with benzodiazepines, like Xanax and Valium, and sleeping pills.
What are the penalties for OVI?
The penalties for OVI in Ohio can include jail time, fines and license suspension. Your license will be automatically suspended, even without a criminal conviction, if you refuse a breath, urine or blood test upon request. You might also be on the hook for higher insurance premiums.
Drivers in Ohio should be aware of the potentially severe criminal and civil penalties for driving under the influence of any substance, even legal drugs, that compromises driving ability. Always practice responsible driving habits; if you are unable to drive safely, call a cab or a friend for help.