States that utilize OMVI laws prohibit the act of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. An OMVI offense can bring with it serious legal and financial consequences. You can avoid getting an OMVI in states with OMVI laws by learning what an OMVI is and how it is punished in the legal system today.
What is an OMVI?
OMVI stands for Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired after consuming drugs or alcohol. Unlike states with DUI laws, states with OMVI laws extend this offense to the use of both drugs and alcohol. A DUI in many states applies just to alcohol consumption.
Further, an OMVI defines a motor vehicle as not only a car or truck but also a vehicle like a moped, bicycle, a motorized wheelchair, and even a horse-drawn carriage. Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired, regardless of what kind of vehicle it is, can result in you being arrested for and charged with an OMVI.
Further, the states that use OMVI laws do not give motorists an opportunity to deny field sobriety testing, which can include a breathalyzer test. States like Ohio have implied consent laws on the books, meaning that if you are pulled over and questioned for Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired, you have to by law submit to the testing. If you refuse, you could still be arrested, and your driver’s license can be suspended for several months if not a year or longer.
A breathalyzer test will give the officer a correct reading of what your blood alcohol content or BAC is. In many states, even those with OMVI laws, the legal limit for adults 21 years of age and older is 0.08 percent. For minors, it is 0.02 percent, and commercial drivers’ BAC limit is 0.04. If you are found to have an illegal BAC limit, you most likely will be arrested for and charged with Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired.
If you find yourself arrested for and charged with an OMVI, it is important that you know what legal steps to take to protect yourself, your finances, and your future. You should start by hiring a skilled OMVI lawyer in the state in which you have been charged. A skilled OMVI lawyer may be able to help you avoid some of the severest penalties associated with OMVI convictions.
How is an OMVI Punished?
The offense of Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired is punished in a number of different ways in OMVI states. If it is your first offense, you could face punishments that include serving three days to six months in jail. You also could pay a fine of $250 to $1000 and have your driver’s license suspended for six months to three years.
A second conviction of Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired could result in you being fined $350 to $1000 and having to serve 10 days to one year in jail. Your license may also be suspended for one to five years after your conviction.
A third offense of Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired can lead to a jail sentence of 30 days to one year and fines of $350 to $1500. Your license can be suspended for one to 10 years. You also must have an ignition interlock device, or IID, attached to your car to test your breath before you can drive.
A fourth Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired conviction will lead to a jail sentence of 60 days to one year in jail and fines totaling $800 to $10,000. Your license can be suspended indefinitely, and you will have to have an IID installed on your car.
The punishments for OMVI in states with OMVI laws can be more severe than DUI penalties elsewhere. You may face additional charges if you were in possession of illegal drugs at the time of your arrest or if you had a passenger under the age of 21 in the vehicle with you.
The consequences of an OMVI can last longer even after you serve your time and pay your civil penalties. They could have lasting ramifications on your life and the life of your immediate family.
Even after you get out of jail and pay your fines, you could still face serious consequences for having an OMVI on your record. To start, it may be difficult or impossible to get car insurance. Many insurers look at your driving and arrest record and decide whether or not to extend a policy to you based on those results. An OMVI can be an automatic disqualification for insurance that is affordable. You may have to get a policy through a high-risk insurer.
You also may find it difficult to get financing for a new car or house because of your OMVI conviction. Many lenders consider an OMVI to be a sign of risky behavior. They may be less reluctant to loan money to you if you have an OMVI on your record.
Likewise, you may find it difficult to become a volunteer in your community or to adopt or become a foster parent. An OMVI, even a misdemeanor charge, could signal to authorities that you have made poor choices in the past and have exhibited dangerous behavior. They may not deem you trustworthy enough to take on these roles.
Finally, an OMVI can make it difficult or impossible to get a new job. Jobs like teaching, nursing, becoming a doctor, and other high-level positions require people to have spotless criminal and driving records. An OMVI will show up when your employer does a background check on you. It could take you out of the running for jobs you really want.
Dealing with an OMVI Charge
Given the long-lasting ramifications that an OMVI can have on your life, it makes sense that you would want to know how to deal with it effectively. Your first step should involve hiring a skilled lawyer to take your case. A lawyer can represent you in your arraignment hearing and help you secure bail or a bond to get out of jail.
He or she can also review the evidence of your offense and make sure that law enforcement had probable cause to pull you over for Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired. The evidence that can be reviewed include any dash cam footage from the police officer’s car. It can also include a blood or urine sample that you had to provide at the jail.
Even if the charges against you are lawful, they can still be argued down if you are a first-time offender or you did not harm anyone or anything during your crime. Your lawyer may be able to plea down to a diversionary charge, which could allow you to complete a drug or alcohol rehab program and then have the conviction expunged after one year. The expunged record would be effectively sealed from the public eye and not visible to employers, financiers, and others who do background checks on you.
Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired is a serious charge that can disrupt your normal life. It can be expensive to deal with and have long-lasting ramifications even after you serve your time and pay your civil penalties. You may be able to avoid the worst consequences by hiring a skilled lawyer to take your case immediately after your arrest.