Can You Still Be Charged If Your BAC Is Below .08% in Ohio?

In a word, yes.

Police can charge you with driving under the influence even if your breath, blood and urine test results show a blood alcohol concentration that is well below the generally enforced legal limit of .08. Keep reading to understand why and how, but also know that a low or inconclusive BAC test result gives a criminal defense attorney immediate grounds for building a strong defense against a DUI conviction.

A law enforcement officer who stops a driver for suspicion of DUI can make an arrest and issue a charge for impaired or intoxicated driving for many reasons other than BAC. First, officers take several factors into consideration when deciding whether to charge a driver. Next, an officer may see evidence or behavior that suggests drug use in addition to, or separate from, any suspected drinking. Last, most states set different legal limits for the legal BAC of commercial drivers and for drivers who are younger than 21.

Factors Other Than Blood Alcohol Concentration

During traffic stops and at checkpoints, officers will look through a vehicle’s windows for bottles and open containers, smell for alcohol, watch for clumsy movements, and listen for slurred speech. Officers also have the authority to ask drivers to step out of their vehicles and perform field sobriety tests.

As a DUI defense attorney based in Columbus, Ohio, I can assure Ohio readers that they have the right to refuse requests to do tests like walking a straight line or standing on one leg. Simply saying no to field sobriety tests will not prevent an arrest or charge, however.

An officer will use everything he observes, sees, and understands to be true to inform their decision about how to handle a driver. Losing your balance for any reason could be interpreted as being as incriminating as not being able to stay steady with one foot raised off the ground.

Suspicion of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

An officer will check a driver’s eyes and look in a vehicle for drug paraphernalia such as pipes and needles. Pinpoint or dilated pupils are interpreted as telltale signs of recent drug use. And having drug paraphernalia out in the open puts a driver at risk for a criminal charge regardless of whether they have ingested any substances.

The state of Ohio (and nearly all others) sets legal limits for blood and urine concentrations of the active, intoxicating components of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and heroin and other opioids. Those types of tests cannot be conducted by the side of the road or at a DUI checkpoint. Consequently, a person who is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs will be taken into custody and brought to a hospital or police station for sample collection that will be sent to a lab testing.

If that happens, a driver should know whether refusing to provide blood and urine samples will bring a charge separate from any official accusation of driving under the influence.

In Columbus, Ohio, and most other places across the United States, a driver is allowed to call and consult with a criminal defense attorney at any time while dealing with law enforcement. Exercising that right to discuss your legal options can be a good idea. Politely asking to call a lawyer is important. Becoming argumentative will be interpreted as evidence for being drunk or high.

Different Per Se Standards for Commercial Drivers and Teens

The .08 BAC limit for driving legally is called a “per se standard.” A driver who registers that concentration of alcohol in their bloodstream is considered intoxicated and impaired per se, and no other evidence is needed to support an arrest, charge and, potentially a conviction.

The same per se standard does not always apply to everyone. Guidelines from the federal government have led nearly every state to adopt a per se standard of .04 for the BAC of commercial drivers. This lower legal limit applies to truck drivers, bus drivers, taxi drivers and delivery drivers. In a similar way, plane and helicopter pilots are held to a BAC limit of .02.

Ohio also sets a lower legal limit for drivers who are not yet old enough to purchase beer, wine, or liquor. In my state, no one under the age of 21 can drive when their BAC is .02 or higher. This is a very low concentration, achievable by many people who drink just one beer or less.

Every type of alcohol and drug test has a margin of error. Also, state-specific rules dictate how tests must be conducted. An experienced DUI defense attorney will explore whether test results showing a BAC below the applicable legal limit can be challenged on the grounds that they are unreliable or inadmissible.

Posted in DUI

What Does a Felony Theft Charges Mean in Ohio?

Before diving into details, it is essential to understand that getting charged with felony theft in Ohio means that the accused offender faces real jail time and stiff fines. Effective defenses against a felony theft charge exist, but you must take the accusation very seriously.

How Does Ohio Law Define Theft?

Section 2913.02 of the Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) makes it a crime to take property or to obtain services

  • Without the consent of the owner or service provider,
  • By deception,
  • By threat, or
  • By intimidation.

This statutory definition covers a wide range of potential offenses. Everything from using someone else’s credit card and stealing cable to refusing to check out of a hotel room or stealing a car can be prosecuted as theft. Often, theft and fraud charges are filed together. One act of fraud very frequently associated with theft is misrepresenting one’s identity.

Theft is distinguished from the similar alleged criminal acts burglary and robbery by the way the property or service is illegally obtained. A charge of burglary requires evidence that the accused perpetrator was trespassing, such as by breaking into a store or home. A robbery offense involves the use or threat of physical force. Mugging someone with a club or gun would be treated as a robbery.

What Makes an Alleged Theft a Felony?

Generally, the cash value of the item taken or the service obtained is the difference between whether the alleged offense is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. As spelled out in O.R.C. 2913.02, a theft becomes a felony when the item or service is worth at least $1,000.

The theft of an item or service worth between $1,000 and $7,500 is treated as felony of the fifth degree, which is the lowest level felony. The severity of the charge increases as the value rises, as shown in the following table.

Felony Theft Charge

Value

Fourth degree Felony Theft Columbus, Ohio

$7,500-$150,000

Third degree Felony Theft Columbus, Ohio

$150,000-$750,000

Second degree Felony Theft Columbus, Ohio

$750,000-$1.5 million

First degree Felony Theft Columbus, Ohio

More than $1.5 million

The Ohio statute also specifies certain charges for particular acts of theft, for instance, stealing something from an elderly person, a person with disabilities or an active duty member of the military will be prosecuted as a fifth degree felony even if the value of the illegally obtained property or service is less than the $1000 amount.

Similarly, theft of a motor vehicle is automatically considered a fourth degree felony. The theft of a firearm is considered a third degree felony. When more than one item is stolen, the person accused of committing the crime can be charged with multiple felony theft offenses.

What Are the Penalties for Felony Theft in Ohio?

Blanket state sentencing guidelines call for a jail sentence of 6-12 months and criminal fines up to $2,500 for a conviction on a fifth degree felony charge. Those basic penalties increase with each level of felony.  A first degree felony conviction can bring a prison sentence of 11 years and a fine of up to $20,000. People convicted of theft can also be ordered to pay restitution to those who had property taken from them.

The defense used to try to get a theft charge reduced or dismissed will depend on the facts of the case. Often, an alleged theft is actually a misunderstanding over whether permission to use an item was granted or what the terms of use for a service were. The value of an item or service, as well as its ownership or administration, are usually open for debate. Good-faith efforts to return an item or pay for services when asked to do so can serve a defendant well. Partnering with an experienced Columbus Ohio criminal defense attorney will help with selecting and executing an appropriate strategy.

Colin Maher of the Columbus-based Maher Law Firm handles criminal defense throughout Franklin County. He offers free quotes to prospective clients, and he takes most cases on a flat-fee basis. To receive a free quote, call (614) 205-2208 or reach out online.

Tips on Choosing an OVI Defense Lawyer for Your Columbus Drunk or Drugged Driving Case

First Tip: Do not go through a drunk or drugged driving case in central Ohio without securing advice and representation from an experienced Franklin County defense attorney. Police, prosecutors, and judges take the charge of what state laws call operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI) very seriously. If you do not have a dedicated OVI attorney in your corner, you can face stiff penalties even if the evidence against you is not very strong.

Which defense lawyer you choose is up to you, of course. But following these next three tips should guide you to a Franklin County OVI attorney who will do the best job possible.

Tip: Prioritize Experience

Police must follow strict rules when doing traffic stops or operating DUI checkpoints, while conducting field sobriety tests, and when requesting and handling breath, blood, and urine samples. Similarly, prosecutors have limits on how they can use all types of evidence that purportedly “prove” an OVI defendant was diving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A Columbus OVI attorney who has helped many defendants will know all the applicable rules and hold police and prosecutors responsible for complying with each of them. The more evidence that the defense lawyer can get thrown out or called into question, the higher the likelihood that the OVI charge will be dismissed or reduced.

An experienced Franklin County OVI attorney will also know all the ways to get a driver’s license reinstated, how to recognize an advantageous plea deal, and when to insist on procedures like having blood samples retested.

Tip: Demand Responsiveness

Even a first-time OVI conviction can land you in jail for six months and get your license suspended for a full year. Simply getting arrested can result in a long ban on driving and may lead to you losing your job. Regardless of what happens, you will end up spending a good deal of time of money dealing with the case.

Since a drunk or drugged driving charge will seriously disrupt your life, you need a legal ally who takes your case as seriously as you do.

Only hire a Columbus, Ohio OVI attorney who responds quickly to your first phone call or email. Fire any Franklin County OVI attorney who stops taking your calls or ignoring your messages. Demand full, factual responses to your questions, and get rid of an attorney who ignores your instructions. In short, stay away from any lawyer who treats dealing with your concerns as anything less than a top priority.

Know, too, that as the person who employs the lawyer, you can fire and replace him or her at any time. Exercising that option can be particularly important if you find it necessary to request a public defender for your arraignment right after your arrest.

Tip: Do Not Shy Away From Asking What This Will Cost

Again, you are your lawyer’s employer. If nothing else, you deserve to know up front how, and how much, your Ohio OVI attorney will charge you.

Ask if you will pay a flat fee or pay by the hour. If the lawyer offers a flat fee, does he or she then charge extra for making copies of court documents and providing other services? Does the law firm arrange payment plans?

Do not make cost your sole reason for selecting a Franklin County OVI attorney, but do make sure that receiving the final bill does not feel like an unexpected penalty.

Colin Maher of The Maher Law Firm regularly ranks among the best drunk and drugged driving defense attorneys in Ohio. He offers free consultations to all OVI defendants, and he takes on most clients for a flat fee. You can speak to him now by calling (614) 205-2208 or by completing this online contact form.

Posted in DUI

Can You Be Charged With A Crime in Ohio Without Knowing?

You would think you can’t be charged with a crime without knowing, but it happens all the time. Officers and prosecutors have a choice, in most cases, to file charges based on a warrant or on summons.  Charges based on a warrant mean you are subject to arrest whereas charges on a summons give you the opportunity to appear in court.  You can face criminal penalties without ever getting arrested. Police, prosecutors and courts handle certain types of cases differently, but they are required to inform you of the charges against you. Continue reading “Can You Be Charged With A Crime in Ohio Without Knowing?”

What Does It Mean to Be Charged With 5th Degree Felony Drug Possession in Ohio?

The biggest thing to understand about being charged with fifth-degree felony drug possession in Ohio is that you could spend several months in jail and be ordered to pay thousands of dollars in criminal fines and court fees. The maximum penalties for the alleged offense are 12 months in a local jail and a $2,500 fine. Continue reading “What Does It Mean to Be Charged With 5th Degree Felony Drug Possession in Ohio?”

Things You Need to Check Before Pleading Guilty to Speeding Ticket in Ohio?

Few Ohio drivers make it through their lives without receiving a speeding ticket. Some people can’t make it through most years without getting pulled over and ticketed. But that is not what keeps a Columbus speeding ticket lawyer like me in business. Continue reading “Things You Need to Check Before Pleading Guilty to Speeding Ticket in Ohio?”

What Happens When Someone Files Criminal Charges Against You in Ohio?

What Happens After Criminal Charges Are Filed Against Me in Ohio?

The first important thing to understand is that the filing of a criminal charge differs from simply having a police officer arrest you by taking you into custody. You can be detained, booked and even locked up for some period without ever facing an official charge. In both circumstances, you have undeniable rights to seek advice and representation from a Columbus criminal defense attorney. Continue reading “What Happens When Someone Files Criminal Charges Against You in Ohio?”

Should I Tell My Criminal Defense Lawyer That I’m Guilty?

Should You Tell Your Criminal Defense Lawyer If You Are Guilty?

Don’t stress yourself out over the question of whether you should tell your lawyer if you’re guilty. Instead, understand that you will benefit from sharing the full story of how you wound up facing a criminal charge. The more your defense attorney knows about you and your case, the better he/she will be able to argue to have the charge against you dismissed or reduced. Continue reading “Should I Tell My Criminal Defense Lawyer That I’m Guilty?”

How Long Do You Have to Pay a Speeding Ticket in Ohio?

How long do you have to pay a traffic ticket?

You have a limited amount of time from the date on which it was issued to pay a speeding ticket in Ohio. You also have that same amount of limited time to challenge the speeding ticket. The deadline for challenging or paying the ticket will be listed on the bottom of the ticket as your court appearance date. Continue reading “How Long Do You Have to Pay a Speeding Ticket in Ohio?”

What happens if you get caught underage drinking in Ohio?

Ohio, like every other state, sets the legal drinking age at 21. The state also makes it a criminal offense for anyone younger than 21 to:

  • Order alcohol,
  • Pay for alcohol,
  • Share the cost of alcohol,
  • Attempt to purchase alcohol,
  • Possess alcohol,
  • Consume alcohol, or
  • Go out in public after becoming intoxicated by alcohol.

Continue reading “What happens if you get caught underage drinking in Ohio?”