What Happens Before You’re Arrested for a DUI/OVI in Ohio?

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or more recently known as Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated (OVI) is a serious crime in Ohio. Specifically, in Ohio, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration(BAC) of .08 or above. This limit is lower for commercial drivers and drivers under age of 21. OVI means “Operating a Vehicle Intoxicated”. In addition, it is also illegal to drive with any amount of controlled substance such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or meth present in the driver’s blood over certain limits. If you are facing DUI or OVI charges in Ohio, contact a DUI defense attorney from our team today. 

Initially as the first step, an officer must make observations while your car is in motion. They are taught to look for certain clues that you are impaired. Weaving, driving outside the lanes, making wide turns, causing an accident, erratic speed changes, unsafe lane changes, driving without headlights, or recklessly driving are among a few clues that officers look for. An officer can also get a “tip” that you are intoxicated, stop you for a simple traffic violation such as speeding, an equipment violation or seriously violating the marked lanes of the road. (Courts have held that minor marked lanes violations are not enough to make a stop). The officer must have probable cause to believe you committed and offense and have reasonable suspicion that further investigation will show you are impaired. An attorney must look at the report and cruiser video to determine if the initial traffic stop was justified. Many suppression motions are filed on this initial step in the process.

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Further Investigations

The next stage of an OVI investigation is the officer’s observations when he first makes contact with you. He will make notes of any problems you have safely stopping your vehicle or responding to the cruiser lights. When he/she approaches you they will be looking for clues of impairment ie: the odor of alcohol, the condition of your eyes, your coordination when providing you driver license, your attitude, your speech, the condition of your clothes, and other factors. The evidence must give the officer a reasonable suspicion that you are under in influence. Again your attorney, will review the evidence the prosecuting attorney provides to evaluate whether the extended detention was legal. To support an officer’s suspicion of impairment, you may be asked to perform “field sobriety tests.” They are designed to confirm that you are under the influence or likely to test over the limit. The standardized tests are the walk and turn (walk nine steps, turn, walk nine steps back), the one leg stand (stand on one leg for thirty seconds), and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (follow a pen or other stimulus with your eyes). Remember you are not legally required to perform these tests but there are pros and cons to taking/refusing the tests. Again your attorney will review the video recording of the field tests to see how well you performed and will see how well the officer administered the tests.

The Arrest

If the officer concludes you are under the influence, he will place you under arrest. He will handcuff you and take you to the station for a breath test. To justify this arrest, the officer must have probable cause to believe you operated the vehicle under the influence. His decision will be based on the totality of the circumstances and will include all the evidence supporting the determination that you are impaired.

Hiring a DUI OVI Defense Lawyer

Did you know that intoxication results are not always correct? Did you know that an officer’s perception of intoxication can often be successfully placed in doubt? This is entirely fact specific, but depending on which kind of test was used, you may be able to successfully challenge the test results. Experienced attorneys get the maintenance records for the equipment used in the testing and know police standards and practices with respect to DUI/OVI arrests. Our Ohio DUI and OVI attorneys have years of experience in the courtroom. After all of this experience navigating Ohio DUIs and Ohio OVIs, we’ve heard this question asked more than anything else. To be candid – the answer is not always yes. However, if you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, there are some potentially life altering consequences. We do not write this to scare you, but it is critical to your determination to seek counsel that you understand what consequences you are facing. Potential consequences of conviction of a DUI in Ohio include license suspension, large fines, potential employment implications, CDL implications and even incarceration.


Dennis P. Sawan


Licensed in Ohio and Georgia


Christopher A. Sawan


Licensed in Ohio and Michigan

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