DUI Laws in Ohio: What’s considered ‘Operating’ in a Drunk Driving Case?

Getting behind the wheel of your vehicle after consuming alcohol is a severe crime in Ohio and other states as well. Commonly referred to as driving under the influence (DUI) or OVI (operating a vehicle while under the influence), drunk driving involves operating any type of vehicle while your BAC (blood alcohol content) exceeds 0.08%. You can be charged with criminal offenses.

To get a drunk driver convicted for a DUI or OVI, the prosecutor must prove that the driver was in a vehicle, illegally intoxicated, and was operating or in charge of the vehicle in question. Sure, these elements seem pretty straightforward. However, there are many cases in which disputes might arise, especially when trying to establish if an offense occurred. If you’re facing similar charges, it’s best to seek the services of a knowledgeable DUI lawyer in Toledo, OH, who can defend your rights.

The definition of vehicle

According to the Ohio Revised Code (Section 4511.01), ‘vehicle’ refers to vans, trucks, cars, and all other similar automobiles. Beyond this basic definition, the statute covers all other motorized vehicles. In fact, you can be charged with a DUI or OVI in Ohio if you operate a motorized golf cart, a boat, or an ATV while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances.

Note that for the most part, the evidence in nearly all OVI cases is the same whether you’re operating a car, a motorcycle, and all other types of motorized vehicles. So, you should be aware of your condition and avoid operating a golf cart, bike, cars, and trucks if you consumed a substance that could make you fail a sobriety or chemical tests.

BAC limits

Similar to almost all other jurisdictions, Ohio’s maximum legal limit is the BAC level of 0.08%. For certain drivers, particularly those under the age of 21 and commercial operators, the BAC legal limit is less than 0.08. In case a driver is found to be excessively intoxicated (BAC at or more than 170), he or she will be subject to harsh penalties.

‘Movement’ is necessary

According to the Ohio State law, a driver can only be charged with a DUI or OVI if he or she was operating the vehicle. That means the driver must have caused the movement of the car, truck, van, or any other type of vehicle. If the drunk individual is just seated in the driver’s seat and not operating the car, he or she cannot be charged with a DUI.

The burden of proof

As with many cases, the burden of proof in a DUI/OVI case is always on the prosecution. You (the accused or defendant) will be presumed innocent until you are proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. Therefore, it is the duty of the prosecution to prove all the relevant elements of the alleged crime. This doesn’t mean you don’t need an attorney. Remember, these experts have been in this industry for a long time and can help protect your rights.


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