DUI / OVI investigations in Ohio can be broken into three phases: (1) Vehicle in Motion; (2) Personal Contact; and (3) Pre-Arrest Screening. The Personal Contact and Pre-Arrest Screening phases often require the cooperation of the allegedly impaired driver for significant evidence of impairment to be gathered. Thus, ALWAYS REMAIN SILENT.
It is your constitutional right to remain silent during any and all questioning. This doesn’t simply mean questions that are being asked by law enforcement in a poorly lit room in a police station. It also includes questions asked while on the side of the road. Therefore, if you are pulled over for suspected DUI / OVI, politely tell the officer that you want to invoke your right to remain silent. If the officer asks any further questions, repeat the following: “I will not answer any questions with my attorney being present.”
After hearing advice, many clients will say, “but the officer will arrest me if I don’t cooperate.” If you are pulled over and suspected of DUI / OVI, you are most likely going to be arrested. Speaking to the officer is simply providing evidence to the officer that you are impaired. Don’t admit to drinking “only two beers.” Don’t admit to speeding or other traffic violations. And DO NOT submit to field sobriety tests.
DUI / OVI – Vehicle in Motion Phase
The Vehicle in Motion Phase begins when the police officer first sees a vehicle and observes one of the following:
- Traffic Violation (speeding or marked lanes)
- An equipment violation (tail light is out)
- An expired registration
- Unusual driving (weaving within a lane or driving slower than the speed limit)
Based on this initial observation, the officer may decide to stop your vehicle and investigate. This leads to the Personal Contact Phase.
Personal Contact Phase
The Personal Contact Phase is where law enforcement is beginning to look for clues of impairment. This occurs when the officer is talking with you on the side of the road. During the officer’s interaction with you, the officer will be looking for the following:
- A strong odor of an alcohol beverage about your person;
- Red, glassy or bloodshot eyes;
- Slurred speech;
- Unsteadiness on your feet; and
- Whether you seem slow or confused when responding to the officer’s questions.
Based on these observations, law enforcement will ask whether you have had anything to drink or have recently consumed any drugs. DO NOT answer this question. Many people state that they had “two beers” or smoked marijuana recently. That is an admission that will be used against you.
Smelling alcohol or marijuana means nothing. It could simply indicate that you had a beverage recently, like many people do when out at dinner with friends or family, or that you smoked marijuana in your vehicle, but not recently (the smell will linger for a substantial period of time). Neither of these observations lead to the conclusion that a person must be impaired. Furthermore, most people have red or bloodshot eyes at some point, either because of working all day (ex. office employee staring at a computer screen all day), allergies, or rubbing their eyes to stay awake.
In addition to these techniques, law enforcement will ask you several questions at the same time in an attempt to confuse you, recite the alphabet or numbers, or finger dexterity test. None of these tests are considered scientific and you are not required to comply with these requests.
Pre-Arrest Screening – Field Sobriety Tests in Ohio
During the Pre-Arrest Screening Phase, the police will utilize three standardized field sobriety tests to assist in making a determination as to whether you are impaired or not. These field sobriety tests come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) manual. The tests are designed for people to fail and are not a great indicator of impairment, but are very persuasive to most jurors. The standardized field sobriety tests include:
The test that is the most reliable indicator of impairment is the HGN test. However, the NHTSA manual itself states that the HGN test is only 77% accurate in determining whether a person has a BAC level of 0.10 or above. Thus, it is not accurate almost 25% of the time. The Walk and Turn and One Leg Stand tests are even less accurate than the HGN test.
Other, non-standardized field sobriety tests include:
- Reciting the Alphabet
- Counting Numbers
- Finger Dexterity
These tests have no scientific validity, yet many jurors believe that failure on these tests is persuasive evidence of a person’s impairment. How do you think you would perform if you were nervous after being pulled over by an intimidating police officer, accused of drinking and driving, and asked to perform tests on the side of the road with traffic right beside you?
Refusing these field sobriety tests will not assist you in not being arrested for DUI / OVI in Ohio. However, submitting to field sobriety tests will greatly aid the prosecutor in convicting you of DUI / OVI. Without the field sobriety tests, an admission to drinking alcohol or consuming drugs, and your statements during the investigation, the prosecutor will have little to prove impairment. Thus, BE POLITE, REMAIN SILENT, AND REFUSE FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS.
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio DUI / OVI Attorney
If you have been arrested for a first DUI / OVI offense in the Columbus or Delaware, Ohio areas, contact Johnson Legal, LLC to discuss your case. Attorney David Johnson is an experienced Columbus and Delaware, Ohio DUI / OVI attorney who will speak with you about the facts of your case and vigorously defend you and your ability to drive. Don’t face the serious consequences and repercussions of a DUI / OVI charge alone. Call Johnson Legal, LLC at (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation.
Johnson Legal, LLC serves the following cities in the central Ohio area for DUI / OVI Defense:
Westerville, Worthington, Columbus, Polaris, Reynoldsburg, Grandview Heights, Shawnee Hills, Bexley, Pickerington, Gahanna, Sunbury, Powell, Upper Arlington, New Albany, Dublin, Hilliard, Lewis Center, Galena, Clintonville, Huber Ridge, Blacklick, Grove City, Delaware, Marysville, Groveport, Newark, Canal Winchester, Obetz, Marion, Mt. Gilead, Pataskala, Granville, Whitehall, Franklin County, Morrow County, Licking County, Union County, Madison County and Delaware County