You had a couple of drinks with dinner or while out with friends, but you certainly weren’t drunk – and you definitely weren’t over the limit. When you were stopped on suspicion of drunk driving, you thought that blowing into the breathalyzer device would quickly alleviate the officer’s concerns. As expected – the device showed that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was only .06%.
So, why did you end up in handcuffs and charged with operating a vehicle impaired (OVI)?
It’s a common misconception that you’re safe if you’re under .08%
You’re not alone in your confusion. A lot of people think that they’re safe from arrest for OVI as long as their blood alcohol content stays below that state-mandated .08%, but that’s not exactly how things work.
A blood alcohol content of .08% or above is the “per se” limit, meaning that the reading speaks for itself. You can be convicted of drunk driving based on that breathalyzer reading alone – even absent any other evidence that you’re a danger to yourself or others on the road.
However, Ohio law specifically states that “No person shall operate any vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley within this state, if, at the time of the operation…The person is under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them.”
That means that any alcohol in your system could potentially be the justification for an arrest, especially if the officer who pulled you over has additional evidence. They may assert that you seemed confused, slurred your words or were behaving in an erratic manner, which all can be taken as signs of impairment. They may also simply point to whatever offense led to the traffic stop, such as speeding or weaving, as further evidence of your impairment.
If you’ve been hit with a surprise OVI, don’t panic – but it would be wise to get experienced legal assistance right away.