Avery H. Fromet, Attorney at Law

Ohio's DUI Law

Changes Effective January 1, 2004

Dispelling the Myths

Recent Developments Impact Those Convicted of DUI


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Changes Effective January 1, 2004

"Family" plates required during period of suspension

Added to the law beginning January 1, 2004 is the requirement that "family" plates be placed on all vehicles owned by the offender during the period of their suspension if the offender is given limited driving privileges. Normal white and blue plates are confiscated and destroyed and new, red and yellow plates are substituted during the suspension period. Even first time offenders are required to display these plates. Therefore, if you are given limited driving privileges, you are required to use these plates for a minimum period of six months. AND these plates must be used even if other members of your family drive the vehicle.

Index to this Page:

"Family" plates

OMVI changed

New "Physical Control" law

A glitch in the law requires that plates be placed on all cars OWNED by the offender. Since the law requires that normal plates be confiscated and the use of yellow and red plates be required if limited driving privileges are given, does this mean that you can not drive your vehicle if you lease your vehicle (since the offender must be the owner)? Stay tuned!!

"OMVI" changed to "OVI"

For years, the law identified the offense as Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence (OMVI). For years, the courts in Ohio recognized the fact that you could be driving under the influence in non-motorized vehicles, i.e., bicycles, sleds, horse-drawn carriages, etc. Therefore, the term Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence (OMVI) was a misnomer. The law has changed the title to Operating a Vehicle under the Influence (OVI) to correct this disparity.(Go to Top)

New "Physical Control" law added

For many years, law enforcement agencies and the Ohio legislature wrestled with the idea of encouraging those who are drinking to "pull off the road." A minority of courts in Ohio also attempted to encourage this behavior by refusing to convict a person if the vehicle was not being driven. But, the majority of courts held to the rule that if the car was "capable to being driven," even though not moving, the offender was still guilty of OMVI (now OVI).

The Ohio legislature has now dealt with this controversy by enacting a new physical control law. This new law recognizes that one can be in physical control of a vehicle, but not moving the vehicle. Being found guilty of the offense does not have the same ramifications of OVI and "rewards" offenders for not moving a vehicle while under the influence.

Therefore, if you leave a party or bar, recognize that you may be under the influence, get in your vehicle, turn on the ignition, but do not move the vehicle, you can rely on this lesser offense. BUT, what if you are driving your vehicle and then realize you may be under the influence and pull over? The law DOES NOT recognize this scenario and you are still guilty of OVI.

Historically, Ohio has had one of the toughest DUI laws in the United States. The changes to the law make the consequences even more punitive and complicated. NEVER, try to resolve any DUI without an attorney!(Go to Top)

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The information contained herein is for your general information. While the information was accumulated by a professional, it is far from comprehensive and should not be considered legal advice. It is unethical and inappropriate for any attorney to offer unsolicited legal advice without consulting with their client and having a full understanding of the client's situation. The reader is advised not to take any action based upon the limited information contained herein, but should consult an attorney regarding any legal issue before proceeding.