Many people likely think they have a good idea of what drunk driving is and the legal consequences the driver might face. However, there are a lot of details and nuance in these laws – as well as differences between states – that may get you in trouble if something goes wrong. Minnillo & Jenkins Co. LPA is dedicated to offering you honest, intelligent advice when it matters most, and, in this blog series, we are answering the most common questions about DUI charges. Today, we are discussing whether a DUI charge is a misdemeanor or felony and the differences between the two classifications.

If you have been arrested in Hamilton County and charged with operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI), you need a lawyer on your side that you can trust. Minnillo & Jenkins Co. LPA offers the passion, experience, and diligence to achieve the best possible results in your case. Choose representation you can have confidence in — choose Minnillo & Jenkins. Contact us today to get started!

It Depends on the Circumstances

The truth is, a DUI charge – or an OVI charge, if you are arrested in Ohio – can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Prosecutors have some flexibility in choosing what level of offense to charge you with, and there are several factors that can influence their decisions. Any consequences of your impairment that affect others can be one factor, and any criminal history can be another. One thing you should keep in mind as you read this series is that laws change and the interpretation of those laws can shift, so the content of this article may become outdated at some point. You can rest assured that Minnillo & Jenkins Co. LPA will stay up-to-date in order to best help you in your case, so if you need advice or a consultation on an OVI case, make sure that you contact them and get a professional, personalized opinion before making important decisions.

When You Can Be Charged

Before we go into the details of misdemeanors versus felonies, we thought it would be prudent to remind you of the circumstances in which you can be charged with an OVI. If you read our previous post defining an OVI, then you know that it covers more than just motorized vehicles like cars, and that “under the influence” doesn’t necessarily mean “under the influence of alcohol.” You can be charged with an OVI if:

  • You are over 21 and your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over .08%
  • You are under 21 and your BAC is over .02%
  • You have a certain amount of controlled substances in your system, which can include marijuana, amphetamines, methamphetamines, cocaine, and more
  • You have taken enough of a prescription or over-the-counter medicine to impair your abilities

The definition of an OVI is broad. If you are impaired in a way that affects your “actions, reaction, or mental processes,” you can be charged, and you can also be charged even when the vehicle you are operating is not in motion. If you are in the driver’s seat and have possession of the keys, you are considered to be in control of the vehicle, which is enough to warrant an OVI. Look for future blog posts for more details on what can lead to an OVI charge and what you can expect if you get pulled over.

Which Charge Applies to Your Situation?

As we mentioned, there are a lot of details that go into a prosecutor’s decision to charge your OVI as a misdemeanor or a felony — too many details to describe in a single blog post. Look for part two of this blog to learn more about which charge may apply to the situation you have in mind, and contact Minnillo & Jenkins if you have any questions. We are here to offer trustworthy legal advice and help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Schedule your consultation today to protect your rights and get your life back on track!