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Zukerman, Daiker & Lear Co., L.P.A.

Attorneys at Law

Dui / Traffic

DUI / OVI Law in Ohio

DUI’s / OVI's in Ohio are governed by the Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.19.  It is listed under Operating a Vehicle while Impaired or “OVI.”  This statute prohibits the operation of a vehicle while impaired.  Impairment may be a result of excess consumption of alcohol and/or controlled substance, prescription drugs, street drugs, or illegal drugs, or any other substance that can cause impairment. To be convicted, the State must prove first that a defendant was in fact operating a vehicle and secondly that the defendant was impaired to an appreciable degree such that he/she cannot reasonably operate a vehicle. The State must prove both elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to sustain a conviction for OVI. 

To prove operation of a vehicle, the State will typically rely on the arresting officer’s observation of the defendant driving the car. If the officer did not witness operation of the vehicle, the State may still be able to prove operation if the defendant made any admissions regarding driving the car, or through any witnesses which may have observed the driving. If no operation of the vehicle can be proven, the State will likely be unable to sustain a conviction for OVI.

In Ohio, a chemical test of the defendant’s Blood Alcohol Concentration or “BAC” which measures at or above .08 percent alcohol content by volume is considered to be a per-se violation. If the defendant is under the age of twenty-one (21), the age limit for consuming alcohol, impairment can be proven by a measurement of only .02 percent alcohol by volume. These measurements can be taken via blood, urine, or more commonly by breath test.

If no BAC measurement is taken, the State may still prove impairment using the observations of the arresting officer.  This evidence is not weighted as heavily as a chemical test but can still warrant a conviction.  Such observations include the odor of alcohol about the defendant, whether or not the defendant has slurred speech, or bloodshot eyes, and whether or not the defendant admits to consuming alcohol or a controlled substance. Most importantly, the officer’s observation of the defendant’s performance of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, or “SFST’s,” are considered substantial evidence in determining the defendant’s level of impairment. The tests typically include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, the Walk and Turn test, and the One Leg Stand test. A poor performance on SFST’s will weigh as heavy evidence in favor of conviction for OVI. To see how well you did on the tests, and to find out if the arresting officer administered these tests appropriately, click on ZDL’s Top 10 Ways to Beat a DUI or, call (216) 696-0900 or 1-888-DUI-OHIO (384-6446) immediately!

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