Thanksgiving Eve is the most popular bar night of the year outside of New Year's Eve. Tonight, many return to their hometowns here in northeast Ohio, as students come home from college towns and professionals from cities across the country and globe return to Northeast Ohio to booze it up at their hometown bars with high school friends, cousins and siblings on the night before Thanksgiving.
This also means that the suburban law enforcement agencies are salivating to make arrests for operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OVI) tonight (actually I'm confident that law enforcement would rather people simply refrain from driving drunk, but I wanted to use the word "salivating" because this is a Thanksgiving post). Don’t be "that guy" or "that girl" seen on the side of the road touching your nose because simply being pulled over and arrested for operating a vehicle impaired (OVI) is serious business.
The sentencing law for OVI is one of those that requires for mandatory minimum penalties for an offender. Even a first-time offender is looking at serving at least 3 days in jail and paying at least $375 in fines plus court costs (which can be even more expensive themselves). Notably, an offender whose blood alcohol content tests at higher levels (i.e., breath test at .17 BAC or higher), can expect a minimum of six days in jail, three days of which must be actual jail. The first three days can be done through a 72-hour driver’s intervention program -- where the wheelman stays at a hotel for three days and attends alcohol treatment programs -- but he or she will then have to serve 3 more days in actual jail.
So, if the driver blows and test low, he or she not have to serve any actual jail time. If the driver tests high or has a prior conviction stemming from a refusal to take the chemical test, then he or she can will have to spend at least 6 days in jail and intervention if convicted of the OVI as charged.
When a driver fails a chemical (breath, blood or urine) test after arrest, the said driver’s license will be immediately confiscated by the arresting officer and will be placed under an administrative license suspension. If convicted, he would face a court-ordered driver's license suspension of six months to three years, beginning on the date of arrest.
During the administrative license suspension (ALS), an OVI defendant can obtain limited driving privileges after a certain period of time, depending on the amount of prior OVI convictions and whether the charge resulted from a failed chemical test or refusal to take the chemical test. As conditions for limited driving privileges, a judge has discretion to require that the driver equip his or her vehicle with the so-called yellow plates, sometimes known as "party plates" in slang terms.
In addition, if a charged driver shows a very high blood alcohol level, the judge may require that their vehicle be affixed with a tube that tests the alcohol level of his or her blood before it will allow the vehicle to start. This is called the ignition interlock device, and it is expensive to purchase and attach to a vehicle. A judge may also choose to order an accused person to wear an alcohol monitor as a condition of bail in some circumstances, normally a high alcohol test result or due to prior offenses.
If there is a conviction, the Court may put the offender on probation with zero tolerance for alcohol consumption or the requirement to seek court-ordered treatment for substance abuse. If you think spending Thanksgiving dinner with your drunk uncle is annoying, then you haven't seen anything yet. Wait untile probation gets you in their grips.
The point is that being arrested for OVI is serious and you need an experienced attorney to defend your rights and advocate for you. If you do get stuffed with OVI this Thanksgiving Eve, call me, Attorney Mark S. Ondrejech at 440.271.1737 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.