Physical Control in Ohio


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Physical control of a vehicle while under the influence is defined in Ohio Revised Code section 4511.194.  It is being in the driver’s position of the front seat and having possession of the keys.  If you are parked somewhere away from your home, the officer’s will often assume that you were under the influence prior to parking and will charge you with a DUI/OVI.  To avoid being charged, don’t sit in the driver’s seat.  To be safe, get in the back seat if your only option is to sleep it off in the car.

 

This charge commonly comes when people decide they cannot drive home and it is cold enough to need the heat.   If you can, try to avoid getting in the driver’s seat at all.  Bundle up in the back seat or call for a ride.  Your ride will be much happier to pick you up from a parking lot rather than a police station.

 

Unlike a DUI/OVI, there is no mandatory minimum of 3 days in jail and no mandatory license suspension.  The penalties for a physical control include potential jail time up to 180 days, a fine of up to $1000, and an optional license suspension up to 1 year.

 

Upon discovering some weaknesses in an OVI case, a common resolution is a reduction from the OVI to a physical control.   A physical control is still an alcohol related offense, but a conviction won’t result in any points on your license.  If you are close to your 12-point limit in a 2-year period, this may be a good option.  If you don’t have a point problem, a reduction to reckless operation may be more favorable.