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Ovi Attorney Columbus | Eric Willison | Of Counsel to Nobile & Thompson CO, Attorneys at Law | Serving Franklin County

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Ovi Attorney Columbus

My firm concentrates its practice on defending those accused of drunk driving in the state of Ohio. At the outset of the case I will move for Limited Driving Privileges so that you can drive back and forth to work. As for defending the case, just because you took the breath, blood, or urine test and tested over the limit does not mean that the results of that test are necessarily admissible. At my firm I examine the police report and any video of the stop closely to discern whether the police violated your constitutional rights allowing us to move to suppress certain types of evidence against you. Further, I check to see if the testing equipment was properly calibrated, for if it was not, the results of the testing can be suppressed. I check to see if the police officer who administered the test was certified to do so at the time of the test, and whether calibration officers testing the equipment were similarly certified. Lastly, if there is no way to avoid a conviction, I argue for the imposition of minimal penalties, along with more limited driving privileges.

Preventing a DUI

Before driving, make sure that your license, registration and present insurance card are paper clipped together in one place (like in your visor).

Remember that you are being videotaped by the police dashboard camera and audio recorded by the officer’s body microphone at all times, including by the side of the road. Act accordingly.

Always be polite and respectful with the police (even when the police are being rude to you), but don’t admit to drinking and/or driving (not even “1 beer”). Don’t lie, just don’t answer questions about whether you have been drinking or driving.

If the officer asks you to get out of the car, you should get out of the car. Never take any breath test by the side of the road. Never take road side coordination tests like walking a line (Walk and Turn Test), counting backwards, fingers to the nose, standing on one leg (One Leg Stand Test), or following anything with your eyes (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test). Politely and respectfully refuse all tests by the side of the road. There is no penalty for this.

Don’t’ try to bargain or argue with the police at the scene. Call me from the scene at 614.580.4316. I take calls late at night from you while you are at the road side. Understand that you are going to be arrested, but that an arrest does not equal a conviction nor a night in jail. Most DUI suspects are issued a ticket with a court date in the near future and released that same evening.

The police officer will pressure you to disregard this advice. He will tell you he will let you go if you just pass his roadside tests. If you smell like you have been drinking, he will never let you go, no matter what you do or how well you perform on the tests. There is no penalty for a police officer who lies to you.


If you smell like you have been drinking, the police are going to arrest you. It’s no big deal. Don’t try to talk your way out of it. Be friendly and respectful. Don’t argue with or resist the police. Remember that in most every DUI case, the police will release you later that evening with a ticket and a court date.

Generally the best advice is to not take the breath, blood or urine test back at the station. It gets more complex if you have a CDL license or if you have been previously convicted of DUI before. In those cases, you taking the test back at the police station may be required.

If you refuse the test at the station, your license to drive will almost certainly be suspended for one year. But in most cases, an attorney can get you limited driving privileges during the period of that suspension so that you can get back and forth to work.


Your primary defense against a drunk driving charge is to get an attorney who, after reviewing the evidence against you, may make a motion to suppress the evidence. Suppression of the evidence means that the Court will not allow it at the trial. If enough evidence is suppressed, the case falls apart and is dismissed. If some evidence is suppressed, then it may be enough to plea bargain the case down to a lower level of offense.

Evidence can be suppressed if the police gathered it in a way that violates your Constitutional Rights under the Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendments. Testing results can be suppressed if the government can’t show that the testing equipment was properly maintained by properly certified officers, and that testing procedures were administered correctly by properly certified officers.


Almost all DUI stops are video recorded by the police officer’s dashboard video camera and audio recorded by a body microphone he or she is wearing. A DVD of the encounter will be made and it will find its way to the prosecutor and the judge unless it is suppressed by a motion from your attorney.

Your breath may be tested by one of four testing devices in Ohio, but the most common device is the BAC Datamaster.

Blood Alcohol Content

Breath Testing: This is the most common type of test. Right now, the legal limit is .08. If you are under 21, the legal limit is .02. If you test above .170 there are enhanced penalties (High Test).

Ignition Interlock Device

A judge may require you to have an Ignition Interlock Device on your car as a condition for getting limited driving privileges. You have to blow into this device before your car will start.

Toxicology Expert

It may be necessary for the prosecutor to bring in a toxicology expert to testify about your level of intoxication if the testing of your blood alcohol content was not performed within three hours of your driving.

Accident Reconstruction Expert

Just because you may have been drinking, that does not mean that you (or your drinking) were the cause of the accident. Hiring an accident reconstruction expert can illustrate this to the judge or jury hearing your case.

DUI LAWS Ohio Revised Code Subsection 4511.19

Zero Tolerence

This term is a political buzzword for police and elected officials, especially around election times. But the United States Constitution and the other defenses outlined on this site will always prevail over tough talk from politicians.

License Suspension If you are convicted of drunk driving, on a first offense your driving privileges will typically be suspended for 6 months, retroactive to the date of the stop. If you refused to take the test back at the station, your license will typically be suspended for one year. But a lawyer well-versted in drunk driving defense can get you limited driving privileges so that you can go back and forth to work.

Open Container Laws

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a container filled with alcohol that is not sealed. The fact that there was an open container in your vehicle at the time of the stop is powerful evidence against you at trial.

Under age DUI

Though the normal breath testing limit is .08, if you are under 21, your limit is .02.

Pleading “No Contest” to a DUI

A plea of “no contest” is not an admission of guilt. Rather, it is an admission that the allegations against you are true, but that you think that these allegations do not amount to a violation of the law.

There are two reasons to plead “no contest” to a drunk driving charge. First, if you and your attorney have moved to suppress certain evidence, the judge has denied that request, and you and your attorney think that the judge was wrong on the law, then you can plead “no contest” and move on to an appeal of your case. Were you to plead guilty instead, you would have waived your right to appeal.

Second, if there was property damage or personal injury as a result of your driving, a plea of “No contest” cannot be used as evidence against you in a civil case that the injured person or property owner might bring against you later.


Generally speaking, there are two types of crimes in Ohio. Felonies and Misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies and carry less jail time and smaller fines. There are five types of Misdemeanors, 1st Degree Misdemeanors (6 months in jail and $1,000.00 fine max); 2nd Degree Misdemeanors 90 days in jail $750.00 fine max) 3rd Degree Misdemeanors (60 days in jail $500.00 fine max); 4th Degree Misdemeanor (30 days in jail, $250.00 fine max); and Minor Misdemeanor (no jail time, $150.00 fine max). Drunk driving is a 1st degree misdemeanor unless it is your fourth conviction (felony).


If you are on your fourth drunk driving conviction within 6 years, you are facing felony charges, and prison time is a possibility.



Loss of license, criminal record which can’t be sealed; higher insurance costs, possible jail time, fines and court costs, disruption of your life.


A judge can sentence a person convicted of drunk driving to up to $1,000.00 plus fines and court costs.


A judge can sentence a person convicted of drunk driving to up to 180 days in jail and probation after that jail term.


Punishments for first time offenders can also involve court ordered alcohol treatment.


A person convicted of drunk driving can be sentenced to a maximum of 180 days in jail and up to $1,000.00 in fines plus court costs. Having a good attorney to persuade the Court to give you the minimum punishment is sound advice.


Those convicted of drunk driving are often put on probation for a period of time, up to 2 years. The person on probation usually has a portion of his/her sentence suspended on the condition that the person have no other convictions within that two year period. If the person violates probation, then the suspended sentence is enforced and the person will have to go to jail for that period of time, as well as any time on the new charges if convicted.



There are two types of testing in DUI cases: First, the field sobriety testing at the side of the road, the purpose of which is to show the judge that the police have sufficient probable cause to arrest you without a warrant and bring you back to the police station for more testing.

The second is the test back at the station when you are asked to blow into a machine, or to give a blood or urine sample.

Field Sobriety Tests

There are several types of field sobriety tests. These are administered at the road side or close to where you were stopped. The three tests approved by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration are the 9 Step Walk and Turn, the One Leg Stand, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test. Police officers may give you other tests like placing your finger on your nose with your eyes closed, saying the alphabet from one letter to another, counting backwards from one number to another, and so on. Never take tests by the side of the road under any circumstances. No exceptions. Politely and respectfully refuse.

Breathalyzer Test

Back at the station you will likely be asked to blow into a device which will measure your blood alcohol content. Refusing this test is a good idea for someone who has been drinking and driving and never been charged with this offense before, unless the person has a CDL license.

HGN Test

This is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test. The person administering the test to you is looking for nystagmus (slight involuntary jerking of your eyeballs) as you follow an object back and forth). Never take this test under any circumstances. No Exceptions. Politely and respectfully refuse.

One Leg Stand Test

The person administering this test to you will have you stand on one leg for 30 seconds with your hands at your side without putting your other foot down. Never take this test under any circumstances, No Exceptions.

Walk and Turn Test

The person administering this test will have you walk down a line, nine steps, heel to toe, turn to the right, and then walk the nine steps back again, heel to toe, without lifting your hands from your side for balance. Never take this test under any circumstances. No Exceptions. Politely and respectfully refuse.

Ignition Interlock Device

If this device detects alcohol in your breath it will disable your ignition.



You will be taken to a police station and offered a chance to blow into their breath testing device after the police read you a series of warnings from a BMV 2255 form. If you refuse this test your license will be suspended for one year. If you take and fail this test, your license will be suspended for 3 three months. You will be issued a ticket charging you for drunk driving, and in most every case, you will be given a chance to call someone to come and pick you up at the police station that same evening. If you are taken to jail, you will be brought before a judge at the next available court date to plead not guilty and to seek release pending trial. Your car, unless legally parked, will usually be towed and impounded.


At the arraignment, you get to tell the Court whether you feel you are guilty or not guilty. No testimony will be given to the Court at this time. It is almost invariably sound advice to plead “not guilty” at the arraignment. You can always change your plea to something else later once your attorney sorts through the evidence against you.

Preliminary Hearing

After the arraignment, a preliminary hearing (also referred to as a “pre-trial conference”) will usually be set for a few weeks later (some courts require you to make a motion to have a preliminary hearing). At this preliminary hearing, you and your attorney will meet with the prosecutor, review the evidence against you, and try to work out a plea to a lesser charge or possibly a dismissal of the charges if the facts and/or the law warrants it. You must attend the preliminary hearing.

If no deal can be worked out and your attorney and the prosecutor disagree about the admissibility of evidence, your attorney will likely make suppression motion and that will be set for a hearing date as well.

Pre-Trial Motions

This is any motion filed before trial.

Just because the police have evidence against you, that does not mean that all or even a part of that evidence is admissible. If the police violated your Constitutional Rights or if the alcohol testing was administered incorrectly, the evidence may have to be suppressed. As such, your attorney will make the pre-trial motion to suppress and that will be set for a hearing.

Another type of pre-trial motion is a request for limited driving privileges so that you can get back and forth to work.

Bench Trial

If you take your case to trial, one way to do it is to have a bench trial, where the judge determines the law and the facts.

Jury Trial

If you take your case to trial, one way to do it is to have a jury trial, where the judge makes all the rulings on the law, but the jury makes all the rulings on the facts. If you don’t feel that the judge will make fair findings about the facts, then you will want a jury trial.


If you feel that certain evidence was inadmissible but the judge let it in anyway, you can file an appeal on this issue provided you are convicted or have pleaded no contest. If you feel that there was insufficient evidence to support your conviction, you can appeal that as well. In an appeal, the appellate court does not retry the case, Rather, the appellate court looks at the procedure used to convict you and makes sure that it was fair and within the rules for conducting such cases.


An expungement is a sealing of a criminal record so that it will not appear on any normal records check. Very few people have access to expunged records (law enforcement usually). Anyone else checking for your conviction records will not find it. Unfortunately, DUI convictions cannot be expunged.

Eric Willison, Ovi Attorney Columbus, represents clients in Franklin County.