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Being convicted of the offense of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (OVI, DUI, Drunk Driving) can have a very serious impact on your life. Penalties required by law include mandatory jail time (or a 72-hour alcohol intervention program) for first time offenders, fines, special license plates for repeat or high test offenders, and forfeiture of vehicles for third time offenders. If you are charged with a felony OVI you face a real risk of going to prison.

In addition, there are the non-legal penalties such as professional licensure problems, higher insurance rates, lost income due to court appearances and sentencing obligations, towing and storage fees, public transportation, strained relationships and possible loss of employment.

As part of your representation, Mr. Schwartz will examine all evidence including breathalyzer/breath tests results, police video of the stop, field sobriety administration, and verification of blood alcohol content levels to make sure your interests are defended. Mr. Schwartz is aware of the serious consequences of an OVI conviction and does everything possible to assist you in your defense.

What are DUI/OMVI defenses?

These are the standard DUI/OVI evaluations that are used in the field:

Driving Observation Defenses

The prosecutor always relies (sometimes exclusively) on the arresting police officer’s testimony about how a OMVI suspect was driving, including:

  • Very slow speeds
  • Uneven speeds (very fast, then very slow, for example)
  • Weaving from one side of a lane to the other
  • Crossing the center line of the highway
  • Running a red light
  • Hesitation in going through a green light

A good criminal defense attorney will argue that there are many different explanations for these driving behaviors that don’t have anything to do with being alcohol-impaired.

Behavior Observation Defenses

An officer may also testify as to an OMVI suspect’s appearance and behavior when questioned, including:

  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Inappropriate joking or incoherent speech
  • Stumbling or not being able to walk very far
  • Pupil enlargement

Defenses to these observations that don’t have anything to do with being intoxicated may include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Allergies
  • Contact lenses
  • Stress due to personal circumstances
  • Medications
  • Foods recently ingested
  • Nervousness over being stopped by police
  • Physical impairments


Field Sobriety Test Defenses

When an officer suspects you may be too intoxicated to drive, he or she will likely ask you to perform a “field sobriety test.”

These tests are designed to assess your physical and mental alertness, and can include:

  • Walking a straight line
  • Walking backwards
  • Reciting the alphabet, front wards or backwards
  • Standing on one leg

Officers also, sometimes, rely on what’s called a “nystagmus” test, in which the suspect is asked to shift eye gaze from one side to the other while the officer shines a light in his or her eyes. The theory is that the gaze of someone who is impaired by alcohol or drugs will be jerky rather than smooth.

The defenses to field sobriety tests are often the same as with behavioral observations. Medications and lack of sleep can make it considerably more difficult to perform these tests. Many people also have physical impairments caused by injuries – or simply aging – that make it impossible to perform these tasks under ideal conditions.

Your lawyer may cross-examine the arresting officer in detail as to whether the officer asked if you had any physical impairments id there were particular circumstances that would make it difficult to perform the tests. Your lawyer may also point out to the jury that many jury members may have similar difficulties performing the tests, such as by asking the jury if they could recite the alphabet backwards under the best of circumstances.

Blood Alcohol Content Defenses

Your attorney will likely subpoena police records on how the breath testing machine operates and was maintained and/ or calibrated. Your lawyer may also want to bring in expert testimony that the particular breath testing machine the officer used is notorious for malfunctioning.

What are conviction consequences?

If you’re convicted for OMVI, the judge may sentence you to:

  • Pay fines
  • A short jail stay or a driver intervention program
  • A long jail term if you were involved in an accident where you injured or killed someone
  • Probation or a suspended sentence, with conditions on where you can go and actions you’re prohibited from (such as drinking)
  • Community service, working with local non-profit community organizations
  • Drug or alcohol counseling or outpatient or intensive inpatient rehab
  • Install an “ignition interlock” device on your vehicle which prevents you from operating your vehicle if your blood alcohol content is over a certain level, typically .02
  • If your driver’s license hasn’t already been suspended, your state department of licensing may also suspend it for a certain period of time or put restrictions on when and where you can drive
  • First-degree felonies are the most serious category, while fifth-degree felonies are the least serious. Additionally, Ohio has a number of felony offenses that are not identified by degree. For information on Ohio misdemeanors, see Ohio Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.


Aaron Schwartz, a great Cleveland Drunk Driving Attorney practices law in Cleveland, Akron, Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Bedford Heights, Garfield Heights, Rocky River, Westlake, Avon, Hudson, Aurora, Solon, Shaker Heights, Beachwood, Lyndhurst, Chardon, Ravenna, Mentor, Willoughby, Painesville, Ashtabula

The best Cleveland DUI Attorney in Cuyahoga County, Lake County, Portage County, Geauga County, Summit County, Ashtabula County, and Lorain County.