Ohio’s OVI (a.k.a. OMVI, DUI, DWI, Drunk Driving) is codified in the Ohio Revised Code, Section 4511.19. An Ohio OVI can be charged under many different subsections depending on the actual facts or allegations.
O.R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a), sometimes written as 4511.19A1a, is the section of the law that essentially says you are impaired from either alcohol or drugs (or a combination of them). In order to convict a person of this section of the law, the State does not need to prove that you are “over the limit” of .08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath (or the corresponding blood or urine levels) or that you have a specific type or amount of drugs in your system. All that has to be proven is that your ability to operate a vehicle is “noticeably impaired.”
In order to prove impairment, the State will generally rely on the testimony of the arresting officer. The officer will testify about all of the things they saw, smelled and heard on the roadside, including such things as bloodshot, glassy (watery) eyes, the odor of alcoholic beverage, issues with your balance, including your performance on the one-leg stand and/or the walk and turn tests, your performance on the eye test (HGN – horizontal gaze nystagmus test), your mood, any statements you made including admission or denial of drinking and many other observations.
What the State does not need to rely on to prosecute this particular section, is a breath, blood or urine test. This 4511.19(A)(1)(a) is the section that should be used to prosecute a person who refused to submit to a breath, blood or urine test. There is also another section for “refusals” which is 4511.19(A)(2); however, this section only applies to persons who have a prior conviction for OVI within the preceding 20 years and who then refuse to submit to a breath, blood or urine test.
4511.19 also has numerous sections that deal with blood tests, including different sections for whole blood, plasma or serum. There are also sections that deal with breath tests and urine tests.
To further complicate matters, Ohio OVI laws also have different sections for those who have high levels of alcohol in their blood, breath or urine. These are sometimes referred to as “super OVI’s” or “high tier.” For breath tests, the high tier starts at 0.17 gms of alcohol/210 liters of breath. The O.R.C. sections for the alcohol tests are 4511.19(A)(1)(b), 4511.19(A)(1)(c), 4511.19(A)(1)(d), 4511.19(A)(1)(e), 4511.19(A)(1)(f), (4511.19(A)(1)(g), 4511.19(A)(1)(h), and 4511.19(A)(1)(i).
In addition to alcohol, Ohio’s lawmakers have established limits or illegal levels for certain drugs. These drug “per se” limits deal with marijuana, marijuana metabolite, cocaine, cocaine metabolite, PCP (phencyclidine), amphetamine, methamphetamine, heroine, and heroine metabolite.
View a detailed listing of the specific O.R.C. code sections and the “per se” levels (a.k.a. “over the limit” levels).
Learn more about Ohio OVI penalties.