Ohioans have likely seen the acronyms OVI, DWI, DUI, OMI and perhaps several others (like OMVI).

What do these acronyms mean? While the acronyms may appear to be referring to different activities, they all actually refer to the same thing: driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. DUI refers to “driving under the influence”; DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated”; OVI means “operating a vehicle impaired”; and OMVI (sometimes shortened to OMI) stands for “operating a motor vehicle impaired.”

Although the acronyms refer to the same activity, not all of the acronyms are in current use. DUI and DWI were used in Ohio until 1982 when the Ohio Legislature enacted laws that prohibited “operating a motor vehicle while impaired.” And even more recently, Ohio removed the requirement that the vehicle be “motorized.” Therefore, the current “correct” acronym is OVI – operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

What Activity is Prohibited?

Under Ohio law, “operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs” is operating a vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley when the driver:

  • Is under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of the two;
  • Has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 but less than 0.17;
  • Has a blood plasma or blood serum alcohol concentration of 0.096 but less than 0.204; or
  • Has a urine alcohol concentration of 0.11 but less than 0.238.

If the driver’s alcohol concentration, blood plasma/serum alcohol concentration, or urine alcohol concentration exceeds these limits, the minimum penalties imposed on the driver can be doubled.

In addition, there are levels of certain drugs (such as marijuana and methamphetamine, for instance) that are prohibited for drivers to have in their systems.

Can I Be Found Guilty if I Refuse a Breath or Blood Test?

A person can be found guilty of operating a vehicle under the influence even without proof of any specific blood, breath, plasma, or urine concentration. All that the prosecution would need to show is that the driver was operating a vehicle while he or she was impaired by alcohol, drugs, or any combination of alcohol and drugs. This can be established through testimony of the officer’s observations about how the person was driving before being pulled over, his or her performance on standardized field sobriety tests, the presence of open alcoholic containers or illegal drugs in vehicle, and testimony of witnesses who observed the driver consume alcohol or take drugs.

Contact Our Columbus OVI Defense Attorney

Regardless of what you call it, the fact remains that OVI is a serious charge that can severely impact one’s life. If you find yourself charged with OVI in Columbus, you need the assistance, experience, and zealous advocacy of Suhre & Associates, LLC. We will hold the prosecution to their burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and have the experience and knowledge to attack the prosecution’s witnesses and evidence. Contact our Columbus DUI attorneys today at (614) 914-4822.