What Happens If You Get Charged with a DUI or OVI in Ohio?

In Ohio, a DUI is called an OVI. It is governed by Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.19. Generally, if you are stopped and arrested for a DUI or an OVI in Ohio, you can expect the following parts of the process.

Arrest, Charges, and Summons

The first step is for a law enforcement official to issue a ticket. It must give you notice of the exact offenses with which you were charged. It should also have the corresponding municipal or state code that was violated. If you refused a chemical test or tested over the alcohol limit the police officer will give you an Administrative License Suspension(ALS). The ticket will contain a summons. That summons will require you to report to a specific court and time. If you fail to show up, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest.


The arraignment which is the first step in the process, should be within five business days of receiving the ticket. At that time, you can be represented by an attorney and if unable to afford one, one will be appointed. At this time, you can plead either guilty or not. If you plead guilty, the court will sentence you and you will have an OVI permanently on your record. Pleading not guilty will give you an opportunity to review the evidence against you. At this time you can orally appeal to the ALS. If not, you can appeal the ALS up to thirty days from the arraignment. Your attorney should also file for discovery in order to obtain all the evidence from the prosecutor’s file.


After a not guilty plea, the next step will be a pretrial. Before that date, your attorney should obtain all the evidence against you. That would include, but is not limited to, police reports, witness statements, chemical test results, and video recordings. Once reviewed, your attorney may file motions to suppress certain evidence. After the arraignment, a pretrial hearing will be scheduled with the prosecutor. At this meeting, all the evidence will be reviewed by the prosecutor who will make an offer to resolve the case. This is known as a plea bargain. Depending on the evidence, she may recommend a certain sentence, reduce the OVI to a lesser offense, or dismiss the charges. If the offer is accepted, the court will have a hearing to confirm the agreement and proceed to sentencing.

Motion Practice

If not settled at the pretrial hearing, the case will be scheduled for any motions filed by your attorney. These motions may include: lack of probable cause to arrest you, incorrect administration of the field sobriety tests and alcohol tests. If these motions are successful, certain evidence will be inadmissible at the trial. Settlement negotiations can still be discussed at this hearing.


If unsuccessful, your case will proceed to trial. At trial, the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. As incarceration is part of sentencing, you are entitled to a jury. Once the evidence is presented, either the court or the jury will render a verdict. If you are found guilty, the case will proceed to sentencing. During sentencing, the court hears from you, your attorney, and the prosecution. The court then decides what sentence is appropriate. Under the OVI statute, the court has a lot of sentencing discretion. There are a wide range of penalties available to the court depending on the case.
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Dennis P. Sawan

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Christopher A. Sawan


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