The legal limit of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for driving is 0.08%. But, even if a person has a legal BAC, the alcohol still has an effect on the person’s ability to drive. This may be referred to as “buzzed” driving. Further, an individual may still be arrested for suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OVI), even though their BAC is within the legal limit.

Effects of Small Amounts of Alcohol

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website contains a chart that describes the effects of alcohol on a person. A person with a BAC of 0.02% experiences a loss of judgment, decline in visual functions, and a decrease in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time. These effects can make driving while using a phone or changing the radio station much more dangerous.

It is important to keep in mind that a BAC of 0.02% can be attained through the consumption of a very small amount of alcohol. Further, even a small amount can affect a person in fairly significant ways. This, in part, is why there are some people and organizations that believe the legal limit should be lowered to 0.05%. The CDC suggests that more research is needed to determine whether lowering the legal limit would be advisable.

Under the Influence

Being over the legal limit is one way to get arrested and convicted for OVI. But, Ohio law makes it illegal for a person to operate any vehicle, if, at the time of the operation, the person is under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them. Therefore, an arrest may still occur, even though the person was not over the legal limit or was not tested. An arrest may occur if the officer has sufficient evidence. Examples of evidence that could lead to a person getting arrested includes poor driving, slurred speech, or the smell of alcohol.

For further context on driving under the influence, it is helpful to examine part of the jury instruction given in OVI trials, derived from The jury instruction includes the following language:

Being under the influence means the accused must have consumed some intoxicating beverage…in such a quantity…that the effect thereof on him was to adversely affect his actions, reactions, conduct, movements, or mental processes, or to impair his reactions, under circumstances then existing so as to deprive him of that clearness of the intellect and control of himself which he would otherwise possess.

It is important to keep in mind that being under the influence of alcohol may be something less than the actual legal limit of 0.08%. While being over the legal limit makes an OVI conviction easier to obtain, it is not a requirement for conviction. Additionally, driving after consuming alcohol puts a person at risk of being arrested, even if a conviction ultimately does not occur.  If you are arrested for OVI you need to hire a Columbus OVI lawyer right away.  Contact our OVI firm at (614) 914-4822.