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DUI Arrests in Ohio

An officer will first pull your car over for a traffic stop. Certain behaviors are used as cues for law enforcement officers, triggering a suspicion of driving under the influence. These cues are laid out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and include: turning with a wide radius, straddling the lane divider , almost striking another vehicle or an object, weaving or swerving, speeding or driving more than 10 mph below the speed limit, stopping inappropriately, turning abruptly or illegally, following too closely or drifting. If the law enforcement officer sees any combination of these behaviors, he will pull you over under the suspicion of driving under the influence. He will also be watching you as you pull over since stopping requires several tasks at once (turn signal, pulling over and deceleration).

When the officer approaches your vehicle he will look for certain indications that you have been drinking. He will put his face close to yours to see if there is an odor of alcohol on your breath or clothes. He will observe the tracking of your eyes and take stock of your coordination while handing him your license and registration. He will probably also glance in the car, looking for open liquor containers. The officer will ask you questions to see if your speech is slurred or if you are nervous providing the answers. You are not required to answer any possibly incriminating questions. However you should know that by doing so you will probably be arousing the officer’s suspicions. If the officer concludes that it is likely you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol he will likely ask you to step out of the car and perform some standard field sobriety tests.

Field sobriety tests are designed to give standardization to the determination of driving under the influence. All law enforcement officers use variations of these tests. The most commonly used field sobriety tests are the walk and turn (walk a few steps one way then turn and walk a few steps the other way), the one leg stand (stand on one leg and balance for thirty seconds) and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (tracking objects with your gaze). You may refuse the tests and if you are driving under the influence, it might be in your best interest to do so. If you suspect you will fail the tests it behooves you not to take them. The results of these tests can be used as evidence against you if you are arrested for drunk driving and if you fail the coordination tests, the officer will arrest you for driving under the influence. If the officer has reasonable grounds to believe you were driving under the influence he will arrest you and you will be transported to the police station. The officer will be asking you questions about the incident such as “Where have you been? How much have you had to drink tonight?” but you are under no legal obligation to talk to the police. However, if you choose not to cooperate with the police you should still be polite and simply ask for an attorney. Your lawyer can speak with the police on your behalf if that is your preference.

You will be asked to submit a sample of your breath, blood, or urine so that the police can test for alcohol and drugs of abuse. Ohio has an implied consent law, which means that by obtaining a driver’s license you have implicitly consented to submitting to these tests. If you refuse, the administrative license suspension (ALS) you will receive will be greater (see below on Penalties of DUIs. Ex., for a first offense your ALS is 90 days for a prohibited BAC but one year for refusing to take the test). The administrative license suspension begins as soon as you fail or refuse the chemical test. You cannot refuse the chemical BAC test if, in the last twenty years, you have been convicted of an OVI offense. The officer is not required to tell you of these consequences of refusing the test but he does have to notify you that should you refuse he will be permitted to use any reasonable grounds to ensure that you submit to a chemical test of your blood. You have two hours from the time of the violation to agree to the chemical tests. If you don’t agree with the test results you have the right to an independent test at your own expense.

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