WBNS-TV reported on September 13, 2020, that a Columbus man was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) after police said his blood alcohol level tested for more than three times the legal limit. The alleged offender not only had a breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.281, but he also had three prior arrests for OVI.
If four OVI arrests sounds excessive, then keep in mind that WCMH-TV reported on December 4, 2019, that a Columbus man was facing aggravated vehicular homicide charges and his 16th OVI charge after a single-vehicle crash that resulted in the death of his 51-year-old wife. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office described Robert Ellis as a “habitual drunk driver.”
Ellis has a total of 13 prior convictions dating back to 1985 and 36 past driving suspensions. Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin said two prior charges were reduced to reckless operation.
In the October 16 fatal crash, Ellis had a blood alcohol level of 0.185, over twice the legal limit. A press release stated that charges against Ellis included aggravated vehicular homicide, a first-degree felony, aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony, operating a vehicle under the influence, a third-degree felony, and another operating a vehicle under the influence, a third-degree felony, for being a repeat offender.
Even first-time OVI arrests can still be somewhat harrowing. WKBN-TV reported on August 12, 2020, that a Franklin County judge arrested for OVI was publicly reprimanded by the Ohio Supreme Court. Judge Monica E. Hawkins had a blood-alcohol level over twice the legal limit.
In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court reprimanded Judge Hawkins, whose arrest came shortly after taking office in January 2019 as a newly elected member of the domestic relations and juvenile branch of the Franklin County Common Pleas Court. Hawkins failed several field sobriety tests but refused to provide a breath sample at the police station, so a warrant was issued for a blood draw at a local hospital, which was completed although four security guards were required to hold Hawkins down for the blood draw.
Hawkins pleaded guilty to OVI and was sentenced to 90 days in jail with 87 days suspended. She had to complete a driver-intervention program in lieu of three days in jail and also paid a $375 fine, had her license suspended, and was placed on probation for one year.
It is incredibly important to remember that the Richland Source reported on September 8, 2020 that the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported eight fatal traffic crashes which claimed 10 lives over the Labor Day Holiday. Troopers arrested 538 drivers for OVI, made 477 drug arrests, and there were 170 felony apprehensions.
Franklin County had far and away the highest number of incidents in the Labor Day Holiday Recap document from the Ohio State Highway Patrol with 2,118. This was more than double the second-highest in Hamilton County at 1,046. All other counties had fewer than 1,000 incidents, including Lorain with 952, Delaware with 930, Portage with 895, Clermont with 884, Warren with 874, Wood with 873, Sandusky with 855, and Montgomery with 851. There were 30,936 other combined incidents.
Counties with single fatalities included Portage County, Stark County, Marion County, Clermont County, and Scioto County. Montgomery County was the only county with multiple fatalities, which were three.
The BACs of the alleged offenders listed above are demonstrative of the importance of getting such tests performed for the police officers on Ohio highways. In most cases, the BAC is the single most important piece of evidence for a prosecutor, the supposed proof of the committing of a crime.
It is important for people to remember that higher BACs can lead to additional penalties for an alleged offender. When you have a BAC test of 0.17 or more, you will likely have a longer suspension period and could face other consequences.
A couple of the stories we referenced related to repeat OVI offenders, and people who are repeatedly arrested for this crime will often face enhanced penalties for repeated violations of state law. When a person gets their fourth or fifth OVI in 10 years or their sixth in 20 years, they can face fourth-degree felony OVI charges. A second felony OVI lifetime offense is a third-degree felony.
If you happen to be involved in an accident like the man mentioned above, any person who causes serious physical harm to another person while operating a motor vehicle in violation of the state OVI law commits aggravated vehicular assault, a third-degree felony. Causing the death of another person while operating a motor vehicle in violation of the state OVI law is aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony.
Most first OVI offenses are first-degree misdemeanors. Jail sentences are six months maximum and fines cannot exceed $1,075.
It is important to remember that operating a vehicle under the influence relates not just to alcohol, but also to drugs. Drugged driving arrests can be very challenging cases for prosecutors because it can be extremely challenging to prove that alleged offenders were under the influence of a specific drug at the time of an alleged offense.
Drug cases are much more complicated because different drugs have different detection times, which frequently makes many drug tests somewhat inconclusive for testing purposes. Cocaine and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) only remain in a person’s system for one day, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, Ecstasy, or Molly) and ketamine last two days, and amphetamine, codeine, fentanyl, and hydrocodone all last three days but methadone lasts a full week, phencyclidine (PCP) lasts eight days, and marijuana can remain for as much as 30 days when a person uses heavily.
Drugged driving is a phrase used to describe many illegal drug offenses, but it is important to remember that drugs that can affect driving also include prescription drugs. These are some of the more unfortunate cases because individuals who were only using licensed prescriptions end up charged with OVI for legal drug use.
All OVI charges in Ohio require strong legal counsel capable of defending your rights. You will want to be sure that you are working with somebody who has a proven record of success.
If you were arrested for OVI in Columbus or a surrounding area of Franklin County, it will be extremely important for you to get yourself a lawyer as soon as you can. Make sure your first phone call is to the team at Sabol | Mallory.
Our firm takes great pride in handling OVI cases all over the state and we vigorously pursue only the most favorable of outcomes for every client so they can return to a normal life as soon as possible. You can have us provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (614) 300-5088 or contact us online to set up a completely free consultation.