What is the different standard for underage OVI?

Ohio drivers younger than the legal drinking age of 21 can be arrested and convicted for operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) if they register a blood alcohol content of .02 or higher. The official charge is operating a vehicle after underage consumption.

How much do I need to drink to raise my BAC to .02?

Finishing off a single 12-oz. beer in one hour puts most teen girls and young women over the legal limit. Boys and young men may be able to consume two beers in an hour and stay legally sober because they weigh more. Heavier people can drink more alcohol without raising their BAC.

How do beer, wine and liquor compare in terms of raising BAC?

The rule of thumb is that a can of beer equals a shot of liquor, a shot of liquor equals a glass of wine, and a glass of wine equals a can of beer. Basically, any normal serving of alcohol produces the same effects as any other.

How will police know I've been drinking and driving?

Police cannot know for sure if you have taken the wheel after drinking. They may, however, pull you over for suspicion of OVI if they see you speeding, going way below the posted speed limit, ignoring stop signs, drifting back and forth in your lane, crossing over lane markers, or stopping well back from red lights.

But I'm a college student and drive mostly on campus? Can I still get arrested for OVI?

Of course. Ohio law permits private and public colleges and university to operate police forces that have the same powers and authorities as state and local law enforcement departments. Many educational institutions also collaborate with city and county police forces to enforce laws like OVI.

Do young drivers get screened at DUI/OVI checkpoints?

Anyone can be selected for screening at a checkpoint. While speaking with you, the officer will sniff for alcohol, look for alcohol containers and drug paraphernalia, listen for slurred speech, try to detect signs of confusion, and watch for lack of coordination.

Drug paraphernalia? Don't I just have to worry about drinking and driving?

No. OVI laws cover impairment by drugs as well as alcohol. During a traffic stop or in the course of questioning you at a checkpoint, officers will suspect impairment if he or she smells marijuana smoke, detects agitation, or notices that your pupils have contracted to pinpoints or opened wide.

Do legal limits exist for drugs?

Yes. If you get taken into custody after driving and your urine and blood show specific concentrations of amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, methamphetamines, and PCP/phencyclidine, you will be arrested for being impaired even if you display no physical signs of being stoned.

What tests do police use to detect alcohol and drug use?

Police use a combination of field sobriety tests, breath tests, urine tests, and blood tests to collect evidence of intoxication and impairment. Click the links in the preceding sentence to learn more about how each is conducted, what the results can mean, and how the tests can be challenged in court. An experienced Ohio underage OVI attorney with Campbell Law can also answer more in-depth questions when you call or contact us online.

Do I have to take the alcohol and drug tests?

No. Be aware, however, that refusing to take part in field sobriety tests will not prevent your arrest. Also, if you decline requests to provide breath, urine, and blood samples, you will probably be subject to an administrative license suspension.

What is an administrative license suspension?

Following an OVI arrest, a police officer can seize and immediately suspend your driver's license for several months. This happens automatically if you are under 21 and register a BAC of .08 or higher. You will also lose your license on the spot if you have a prior drunk or drugged driving conviction, have previously refused OVI testing, or drive professionally and were taken into custody while behind the wheel of your commercial vehicle.

Can I appeal an administrative license suspension?

Absolutely, and you can request limited driving privileges even if your license remains under suspension. You must appeal quickly, though. Reach out to a Columbus DUI lawyer as soon as possible if you are younger than 21 and cannot afford to go without your license for three months or more.

What penalties can I face from an OVI conviction?

Potential criminal OVI penalties do not differ for older and underage drivers. They include the following, with the severity increasing for multiple convictions:

  • Fines
  • License suspension with or without restricted driving privileges
  • Jail or prison time
  • Required drug and alcohol education
  • Required drug and alcohol treatment
  • Use of an ignition interlock device, which is essentially a Breathalyzer connected to your car's starter
  • Use of specially designed offender plates
  • Surrender of personal vehicles

Will an OVI conviction get me in trouble at school?

Possibly. High schools and colleges often enforce codes of conduct that include penalties for criminal behavior, especially when the offense occurs on campus. If you get contacted by your school's administration or student leadership following your drunk or drugged driving arrest, contact a college student DUI lawyer in Columbus. Even if you cannot have legal representation during a school disciplinary hearing, a knowledgeable OVI attorney may be able to provide valuable advice throughout any investigation or prehearing procedure.

Can any drunk driving attorney in Columbus, Ohio, handle my OVI defense?

No. Even though many of the legal consequences for drunk and drugged driving are the same for adults and teens, the types of cases involve different standards for evidence and each can create unique problems outside the courtroom.

As a former prosecutor, April Campbell learned how underage OVI charges get investigated, tried, and punished. She knows where police make mistakes that hurt young suspects and whole families. If you need a criminal defense attorney who will fight for the rights and interests of a younger person accused of driving under the influence, reach out to Campbell Law.