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What's the difference between OVI and Physical Control?

Why do I have to pay a Reinstatement Fee? #OhioLegalGroup #OhioDUI #OhioOVI

Ohioans facing an OVI or DUI charge are often overwhelmed by the specifics of the complicated OVI statute, R.C. 4511.19. Every Ohioan facing an OVI charge should be represented by counsel to help them navigate and understand the process, whether it is a first offense or a twentieth offense.

As part of the criminal process, an Ohioan facing an OVI charge can expect to appear in Court at least once for arraignment and once for a pretrial. A pretrial is an opportunity for the Prosecutor and Defense to meet and discuss the evidence, and for both parties to inform the Court of how the case will proceed.

Depending on the strength of the evidence and the defendant’s individual background and criminal or traffic history, the Prosecutor may offer to amend the charge from an OVI charge to a Physical Control charge. But what does that mean, and is it a good deal?

An OVI under R.C. 4511.19(A) is defined as operation of a vehicle, while at the time of that operation, an individual is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, or there is a particular concentration of alcohol or a controlled substance in the breath, blood, blood serum or plasma, or urine.

“Operate” is defined by the statute as to cause or have caused movement of a vehicle.

A first OVI offense is a Misdemeanor of the 1st degree, with criminal penalties including: 3 days in jail or a driver’s intervention program; up to six months in jail; fines up to $1,000; court-ordered drug or alcohol treatment, and 6-month license suspension and 6-point license penalty. The first offense distinction is relevant because this conviction is enhanceable, meaning that future charges would carry automatically increased penalties. Any related BMV reinstatement fees and insurance premium hikes are non-criminal penalties.

In contrast, Physical Control While Under The Influence, under 4511.194, is defined as being in the driver’s position of the front seat of a vehicle and having possession of the ignition key while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a combination. Physical Control is a misdemeanor of the 1st degree and carries potential criminal penalties of: 0-180 days in jail; fines up to $1,000; court-ordered drug or alcohol treatment; and an optional license suspension of up to 1 year and no point license penalty. Any related BMV reinstatement fees or insurance rate hikes are non-criminal penalties.

Unlike either charge under OVI’s section 4511.19, Physical Control is not an enhanceable charge. Because there is no “operation” of a vehicle, there is no moving violation, and therefore, no points. In some respects, Physical Control is a lesser included offense of the more serious OVI charge. In others, it is distinct in that it is not a conviction for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, nor is it a moving violation. Perhaps most importantly, Physical Control is not enhanceable should there be another OVI charge in the future.

A Defendant’s personal history; needs for transportation to work, school, or for childcare; ability to comply with probation; and short-term and long-term goals will factor into the decision to accept a bargain. The strength of the evidence and whether the evidence is subject to suppression due to Constitutional violations will also factor into the decision to accept a Physical Control charge. How do you know if there were Constitutional violations in your case? Call the Law Office of Brian Jones, LLC today for your OVI consultation.

Finally, a Defendant must keep in mind that there will be non-criminal penalties associated with the traffic charge, whether it is OVI or Physical Control. For example, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles requires a $475 license reinstatement fee regardless of whether the suspension occurred under an OVI or a Physical Control Charge.

For more information, call the Ohio Legal Group today!

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