Ohio OVI Laws – Arm Yourself with Knowledge

IgnitionIn January, 2005 Ohio’s Physical Control Statute (R.C. 4511.194) went into effect. This statute governs “physical control” of a vehicle and is similar to statutes governing DUI, except that you don’t have to have the vehicle on or even be driving to be charged under Ohio’s physical control statute.

Ohio’s Physical Control Statute states:

“’Physical control’ means being in the driver’s position of the front seat of a vehicle or in the driver’s position of a streetcar or trackless trolley and having possession of the vehicle’s, streetcar’s, or trackless trolley’s ignition key or other ignition device.”

It goes on to say that no person can be in physical control of a vehicle (i.e., in the driver’s seat) if that person:

  • Is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any combination of them
  • Has a blood alcohol content of .08 or more.

What does the Physical Control Law mean for citizens?

Because of this law, it is no longer safe to “sleep it off” in your car, especially if you put the key in the ignition or plan to run the car to heat or cool it. Having car keys “within reach” satisfies the statute’s definition of physical control. While it may seem like another layer of legal maneuvering, the Physical Control statute is a positive step. It offers a reduced punishment for those who drink but choose not to drive. However, your best bet is to not get behind the wheel for any reason if you have been drinking.

Can my attorney help me get the charge reduced?

An effective attorney may be able to help you get a physical control charge reduced to a lesser charge, but many variables will come into play, such as:

  • Your driving and criminal record
  • The officer’s report and the facts surrounding the charge(s)
  • Your blood alcohol content at the time
  • The judge’s feelings toward physical control charges
  • Whether or not you drove or caused an accident in advance of the physical control issue

Because Ohio courts have a low to no tolerance attitude toward OVI/DUI cases, it is crucial that you find a Cleveland criminal attorney who is experienced in handling DUI, OVI, and Physical Control cases.

If you have been charged with a DUI/OVI or Physical Control crime in Cleveland or Northeast Ohio, you need an experienced criminal attorney to help you navigate the criminal process. For more information and a free consultation, please contact Jeff Hastings, experienced Cleveland Criminal Defense Attorney.