DISCLAIMER:  This site and any information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  Seek competent counsel for advice on any legal matter.

What types of penalties might I be facing if I am convicted of OVI?

When it comes to OVIs, you will find that the penalties can differ greatly depending on a number of factors such as prior history, a chemical test, a refusal or other aggravating circumstances. OVIs further mandate certain minimum penalties based upon some of these same factors. And since OVIs are enhance-able offenses, meaning your penalties are enhanced by certain relevant factors, a large part of what dictates your potential penalties is based upon your prior history, or lack thereof. (OVI Chart)

If I’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, what types of penalties can I expect if convicted?

While there are certain exceptions to the general rule, typically speaking, the penalty range for a particular misdemeanor is as follows:
  • First degree misdemeanor: Punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1000 fine.
  • Second degree misdemeanor: Punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.
  • Third degree misdemeanor: Punishable by up to 60 days in jail in a $500 fine.
  • Fourth degree misdemeanor: Punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.
  • Minor misdemeanor: No jail or probation possible. Maximum penalty is a fine of $150, yet also carries the potential for community service.
  • Unclassified misdemeanor: This typically depends on the type of charge however generally, an unclassified misdemeanor will not carry the potential for any jail time.

What’s the difference between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

Generally speaking, felonies are more serious than Misdemeanors. While the maximum penalty you can receive for the most serious misdemeanor is capped at 180 days in jail and a fine of $1000, felonies can potentially carry significant prison sentences or even death.

What happens if I'm convicted of a felony?

That depends on a number of factors. Judges, when determining an appropriate penalty on a felony, are asked to consider the purposes and principles of the sentencing guidelines. The overriding purpose is to punish the offender and protect the public from future crime by that offender and others by using the minimum sanctions that the court determines necessary to accomplish the purposes, without imposing an unnecessary burden on the state or local government resources. The statute dictates that the sentence should be commensurate with, and not demeaning to, the seriousness of the offender’s conduct and its impact on the victim and consistent with sentences for similar crimes by similar offenders. The felony sentencing statutes also dictate that a judge is not to sentence an offender based upon that offender’s race, ethnicity, gender or religion. In general though, the more serious the offense, the more likely it is that a convicted defendant will serve prison time on a felony.

Generally speaking, lower-level felonies carry with them a presumption of community control sanctions and against prison. While some of the more serious offenses carry the presumption for prison. Also, there are a number of offenses that carry mandatory prison terms. The general felony sentencing guidelines are as follows:
  • Felony-5: 6-12 months in Prison and a fine of $2,500.
  • Felony-4: 6-18 Months in Prison and a fine of $5,000.
  • Felony-3: 9-36 Months in Prison OR 12-60 Months in Prison for certain higher F-3s and a fine of $10,000.
  • Felony-2: 2-8 Years in Prison and a fine of $15,000.
  • Felony-1: 3-11 Years in Prison and a fine of $20,000.

I wasn't read my Miranda rights. Can my case be thrown out on that basis?

The short answer that question is no. While a prudent officer will often times advise a defendant of their Miranda rights in conjunction with their arrest, it is not mandatory for officers to do so, and their failure to do so will not result in a dismissal of your charges. The lack of Miranda warnings, however, could affect the admissibility of statements against you at trial. For example, if the arresting officer were to conduct a custodial interrogation of you while asking specific investigative questions, after you’ve been placed under arrest, and without providing Miranda warnings, those statements would likely be precluded from being introduced against you a trial.

What are the chances my case will actually go to trial?

The vast majority of criminal and traffic cases do not proceed to a jury trial. Many cases are resolved through plea bargaining. However, the decision to try a case or accept a plea bargain is often dependent upon the unique facts and circumstances of each individual case. It’s typically not until after a complete investigation of the matter that a determination can be made as to the appropriate strategy to obtain the best results.

What is plea-bargaining?

Plea-bargaining is essentially the process of negotiation and mediation of your case between your attorney and the prosecuting attorney. During play negotiations, the defense attorney and prosecutor typically discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases and explore the opportunity or possibility of an agreed resolution that will oftentimes provide a benefit to both parties. And while plea-bargaining often times necessitates a give-and-take scenario, your attorney’s primary interest should be getting the best positive result for you and your case, regardless of the prosecutor’s desires.

What is the difference between a guilty plea and a no contest plea?

A guilty plea is a complete admission of your guilt. This is the most common plea entered as a result of a negotiated plea resolution. A no contest plea is not a complete admission of guilt, but rather an indication to the judge that you are not contesting the facts as stated in the complaint or on the ticket. And since a no contest plea is not a complete admission of guilt, it therefore cannot be used against you at any further civil or criminal court proceeding. The most common situation in which a no contest plea is entered, is when there's an automobile accident, where the defendant has been cited for causing the accident, however does not feel as though he or she should be held responsible for civil damages. If a no contest plea is entered in that scenario, the other party cannot use that plea against the defendant in a future civil lawsuit.

I'm a commercial driver’s license holder, what happens to my CDL if I am convicted of OVI?

In addition to any other penalties imposed pursuant to the relevant statute, a CDL holder will face a disqualification of his or her commercial driver’s license. Upon a first conviction for OVI a CDL holder will be disqualified from operating a CDL for a period of one year. A subsequent conviction for OVI will result in a lifetime disqualification of one's ability to drive a commercial vehicle. Furthermore, a CDL disqualification will result from any OVI conviction, even if it is in your personal vehicle.

If I refuse to take a chemical test requested by a police officer, will I lose my license, and if so, for how long?

Generally speaking, in Ohio, as in most other states, if an officer has reasonable grounds to ask a driver to submit to a chemical test of their blood breath or urine, and the driver refuses to submit to the requested test, they will be penalized in the form of a license suspension.

The length of the license suspension will often times depend on the person's history, prior convictions, or prior refusals. (OVI Chart) For example, a first refusal results it in an immediate one-year license suspension. This however, does not mean that a defendant cannot drive for an entire year. Typically, courts are willing to grant limited driving privileges after the applicable hard time suspension. Meaning for example, on a first offense refusal, a defendant can request limited driving privileges from the court after a 30 day waiting period. A driver will also be subject to an administrative license suspension if they agree to submit to a chemical test, and that chemical test comes back over the legal limit. Once again, the length of the license suspension, and the duration of the hard time prior to being eligible for driving privileges, depends largely upon the defendant’s relevant history.

Do I have the right to a jury trial if I've been charged with a minor misdemeanor? And can I get a free, Court-ordered attorney on a minor misdemeanor?

The answer to both of those questions are no, and for the same reasons. In Ohio, there is no right to a jury trial in a situation where jail time cannot be imposed. Also there is no right to court appointed counsel in that situation either.

What is an Ohio Certified Driver Intervention Program?

An Ohio Certified Driver Intervention Program (DIP) is a 72-hour jail alternative for individuals convicted of a first offense OVI in Ohio. There are many DIP programs throughout the state, and most Ohio counties offer a number of different DIP options. These DIPs are typically held at hotels, and require the person to stay at the hotel for an entire weekend. During the program, individuals are educated on drug and alcohol-related issues and making better decisions when it comes to drinking and driving.

What is a Mayor’s Court?

Ohio is one of the only states in the nation that actually has a Mayor’s Court system. Mayor’s Courts are state courts of limited jurisdiction that are established and maintained by certain Ohio municipalities. Mayor’s courts are technically not a court of record, and therefore there is no right to a jury trial in Mayor’s Court. If an individual with a pending Mayor’s Court case desires a jury trial, the case must be transferred to the local jurisdiction’s municipal or county court.

Can I really afford to hire an attorney?

The better question may be “can you really afford not to hire an attorney?” Hiring a good, competent attorney who's familiar with both the subject matter and the jurisdiction of your case, can make all the difference in the world. Even in cases that seem like a slam dunk conviction for the prosecutor, there may be ways in which an attorney can help to minimize your punishment or other court sanctions. And in those cases where there's a legitimate question of guilt, a good attorney, can often times be the difference between a conviction and a more positive resolution.

So how much is this going to cost me?

That depends. You will likely discover that legal fees to defend an OVI or criminal offense case vary greatly across the legal community in Central Ohio. Fees are often based upon a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the attorney’s reputation in the legal community, his or her expertise, experience and knowledge of the subject matter, as well as the facts and circumstances of the particular case. My practice aims to provide a premium legal service to you and therefore you can expect that I will not be the cheapest option out there. But as with many products or services, cheaper doesn’t mean better when it comes to your freedom and your future. I believe, however, that you will find my fees are fair, and certainly competitive in the legal marketplace in Columbus, yet commensurate with my level of experience, skill and expertise. I also charge a flat fee for my legal services, so you know from the beginning of the case how much my representation will cost.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About OVI / DUI and Criminal Law Issues in Columbus and Central Ohio

Through every stage of your case, Attorney Steve Fox is here to help you to feel knowledgeable and comfortable about your legal situation.  To find answers to frequently asked questions, browse below.  If you still have questions, feel free to contact Steve directly to discuss your OVI/DUI or Criminal Law defense matter.

614-569-4919