Operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI) charges are relatively common. People often get arrested after random traffic stops and collisions either because they demonstrate visible impairment or they fail field sobriety and/or chemical tests.
After an OVI arrest in Ohio, many people consider their options only briefly before deciding to plead guilty. Those who have never had any legal challenges in the past might assume that they can avoid the most serious penalties possibly by pleading guilty and showing remorse. Yet, it is important to understand what someone can expect after entering a guilty plea or getting convicted of an OVI offense in Ohio before committing to any particular legal approach.
A judge will decide how to sentence the driver
Although people expect that a judge will treat them leniently if they plead guilty, there is no assurance when entering a guilty plea that someone can avoid specific criminal penalties. A judge will decide what sentence to hand down based on an individual’s criminal and driving records, as well as the details of the situation that led to their arrest.
The OVI law in Ohio allows a judge to impose multiple penalties for OVI offenses, including incarceration, fines and license suspension. Someone’s blood alcohol concentration and other factors can increase the penalties possible. A first OVI without any aggravating factors can lead to between $250 and $1,000 in fines. A judge can also suspend someone’s driver’s license for six months, possibly longer. There is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of three days, but a motorist could spend up to 180 days in jail.
Despite people’s pessimism, a defense is possible
One of the reasons people plead guilty so quickly after an OVI arrest is that they give up hope. Even while asserting that they did not break the law, they may acknowledge that the state seems to have evidence that would lead to a conviction. However, there are actually many people who successfully fight OVI charges. Sometimes, they challenge the legality of a traffic stop or arrest. Other times, it may be the accuracy of the evidence that forms the foundation of their defense strategy. For some people, there might even be medical records that help them avoid a conviction.
Recognizing that serious penalties are still possible after a guilty plea to an OVI charge, even if it is someone’s first offense, may inspire someone to fight back against their charges and attempt to avoid a conviction altogether.