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Chemical Testing of DUI in Ohio

Ohio is an implied consent state which means that the State of Ohio presumes that by operating a vehicle within the state you have agreed to a chemical BAC test should a law enforcement officer request one. Should you refuse a chemical BAC test certain penalties will be harsher such as longer administrative license suspensions and the twenty-year look back rule. Both of these are discussed thoroughly in the topic below on implied consent.

A law enforcement officer will request a chemical BAC test sample if he has reasonable grounds to believe that the driver was operating the vehicle while under the influence. A chemical BAC test measures the amount of alcohol in one of your body fluids such as your blood, urine or breath. Law enforcement offices have the choice of which method they will use but most use a breathalyzer to measure alcohol on the breath. There are certain regulations that must be followed in order to have the chemical test be admissible in court. There is a three-hour time window from the time of your violation (when the officer pulls you over, NOT when you are arrested) where the law enforcement officer can collect your blood, breath or urine sample. If the test is not completed in that three-hour period then it cannot be used to support the prosecution’s case against you. The breath test has to be conducted on a breath-testing device approved by the Ohio Administrative Code and by a certified operator. A senior operator must calibrate it properly and it must be checked for accuracy at least once a week. The solution used in the device must be kept refrigerated and less than three months old. If the equipment is not kept up to the Ohio Administrative Code’s standards, then the results of any tests conducted on the device are inadmissible in court. Food and gum can skew the results of a breath-test so before your BAC can be tested on the breathalyzer, you (as the driver) must be observed for twenty minutes to make sure that nothing you’ve placed in your mouth can render the test inaccurate. There are similar standards and rules for urine and blood testing. A qualified OVI attorney will be able to investigate and inform you whether or not these regulations were followed.

If you have not been convicted of an OVI previously, you may refuse the chemical BAC test. Should you refuse the chemical BAC test the requesting law enforcement officer must read you a statement on the consequences of refusing the BAC test (longer license suspensions and longer look back rule). After he tells you the consequences he will ask you again to comply with the chemical BAC test. If you refuse again, then your refusal will go on the record and you will face the penalties associated with that refusal. You cannot refuse the chemical BAC test if, in the last twenty years, you have been convicted of an OVI offense or if this is the third or more OVI offense in the last six years. If the law enforcement officer asks you to comply with a chemical BAC test and you have a prior OVI conviction then while you may attempt to refuse the test, the officer is authorized to use any reasonable means to obtain a sample from you. He is not required to tell you of the consequences you will be facing having refused the test though he does have to advise you that he is allowed to employ any reasonable means to obtain the sample.


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