The 2020 holiday season may see a decrease in partying, but there will still be a seasonal increase in enforcement of DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio). The Ohio State Highway Patrol plans an increased presence in December, and the federal government has proclaimed December of 2020 to be ‘National Impaired Driving Prevention Month’. You may be avoiding holiday parties and other large gatherings this season, but if you are on the road at night, officers will be watching closely to see if you should be stopped. There are ways to avoid being stopped, charged with, and convicted of OVI in Ohio.
The Holiday Season Means Increased Traffic Stops
During the seasonal increase of OVI enforcement, including the ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over‘ campaign, law enforcement officers look for reasons to make traffic stops. The officers don’t know if you are coming from a holiday party or a Bible study. To investigate your level of sobriety, an officer needs a legal justification to pull you over. Any traffic violation will do.
The most common traffic violation which leads to an OVI investigation seems to be a Marked Lanes violation. If you drive over a lane line, even slightly, you can be stopped. Another frequent justification for pulling over a motorist is running a red light or stop sign. Traffic stops are often made even when there is no moving violation. If your vehicle has a burned-out tail light or license plate light, you can be stopped.
Traffic Stops Can Lead To OVI Arrests
Once a driver is stopped for a traffic offense, the officer looks for clues of intoxication during their interaction with the driver. Those clues include the odor of alcohol, bloodshot/glassy eyes, and slurred speech. Officers also take notice of a driver’s difficulty producing identification and insurance, incoherent conversation, and physical evidence of alcohol or drugs in the vehicle.
If, based on that personal contact, an officer reasonably suspects a driver may be under the influence, the officer typically administers field sobriety tests. Many people perform poorly on field sobriety tests, whether their poor performance is due to intoxication or some innocent reason. Based on the field sobriety tests and the officer’s observations, the officer may then arrest the driver, charge them with OVI, and ask the driver to consent to a blood, breath, or urine test.
If You Are Arrested For OVI
If you are charged with OVI, you will go to the initial court appearance, the arraignment, within five business days. You will then need to decide whether you are going to plead guilty to the OVI or contest the charge. If you choose to contest the OVI, you will likely want to hire an OVI defense lawyer.
A skilled lawyer can help you avoid an OVI conviction. However, avoiding an OVI conviction is much easier, and cheaper, by being especially careful when driving during the holiday season: make sure your lights and turn signals are working; don’t drive out of your lane, don’t run a stop light/stop sign; and don’t violate any other traffic laws. Most importantly, don’t drink too much alcohol before driving. Have a safe and happy holiday season!