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Covington DUI Defense Attorneys

Have You Been Charged With A DUI? Contact Our Covington DUI Defense Attorneys 

If you have been charged with a Kentucky or Ohio DUI, you may find yourself stressed and anxious about your future. Whether you made a one-time error in judgment and were driving while impaired, or you truly were not impaired, it is important that this mistake not entirely alter the course of your future. Unfortunately, field sobriety tests and Breathalyzer tests have a variety of problems that can lead to inaccuracies. Police bias can play a part in a DUI arrest as well. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest, the most important component now is an experienced Covington DUI defense attorney.

While no one advocates driving while impaired, a 2010 government study revealed that one in 12 drivers admitted to driving after having a few drinks at least once over the course of a year. This could largely be due to the fact that most of us are not a good judge of when we are actually too impaired to drive. The same study reported that forty percent of those polled believed they could safely have three mixed drinks prior to driving. So, while it is extremely important to know your limits as far as drinking and driving, if you make a mistake, it is equally important to contact an experienced Covington DUI defense attorney from Adams Law.

Is DUI a Felony in Kentucky and Ohio?

Although DUI charges in the state of Kentucky are usually a misdemeanor, there are certain circumstances in which they become a felony. If you have received four DUIs within a ten-year period in the state of Kentucky, your offense will then be considered a Class D felony with much harsher penalties. Even if this is your first DUI, there are certain factors that could increase the charges to a felony offense, including:

  • Driving the wrong way on a limited-access highway while impaired.
  • Driving more than 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit while driving impaired.
  • A driver with a BAC over .15 or more within 2 hours of operating the vehicle
  • A refusal to submit to a breath or blood test.
  • When your impaired driving directly results in an accident that causes death or serious physical injury, and
  • Driving while impaired with passengers under the age of 12 in the vehicle.

In the state of Ohio, a DUI becomes a felony when you have three or more prior DUI or OVI convictions within the preceding 10 years (including DUIs in other states) or when you have accumulated six or more DUI or OVI convictions within a 20-year period.

 What is the Legal Limit in Ohio and Kentucky?

In both Kentucky and Ohio, the BAC legal limit is .08. For those under the age of 21, the legal BAC limit is .02, and for CDL drivers, the legal BAC limit is .04. In the state of Ohio, a BAC higher than 0.17 can result in much more severe penalties. 

Breathalyzers, Forcible Blood Draws, Field Sobriety Tests, and Sobriety Check Points—Are They Legal?

There is much confusion regarding breathalyzer tests, blood tests, field sobriety tests, and sobriety checkpoints across the United States. Since each state has different DUI laws, it is important that you know the laws in the state where you live. The Breathalyzer machine has been around since 1954. The Breathalyzer measures the blood alcohol levels in your system by measuring the amount of ethanol in one exhaled breath. Unfortunately, there are many different variables that can significantly alter test results of a Breathalyzer.

In 2013, the Kentucky Supreme Court had to decide whether a suspect’s burp could skewer the Breathalyzer results. The court agreed that a burp could skewer the results, stating a police officer must observe a suspect for 20 minutes prior to administering a Breathalyzer test—and another 20 if the suspect burps. Other issues associated with an inaccurate Breathalyzer result include:

  • Lack of training on the part of the officer;
  • A machine that is not properly maintained or calibrated;
  • A test that was improperly administered;
  • A subject that is a smoker, or one that has used mouthwash, breath spray, or lip ointment can test falsely high;
  • Belching, hiccupping, or regurgitating prior to taking the test;
  • The temperature of the subject’s breath;
  • Medical issues such as diabetes, a ruptured eardrum, severe heartburn, dental issues, fever, or even a special diet, such as the Keto diet, can render test results unreliable;
  • Subjects who are routinely exposed to gas or vapors, such as those who use paint, varnish, plastics, or adhesives can have a falsely high Breathalyzer test, or
  • A software glitch associated with the Breathalyzer—more common than you might think.

Although many people believe sobriety checkpoints are not legal, they are legal in both Kentucky and Ohio. On the contrary, you never have to engage in field sobriety tests, either in Kentucky or in Ohio. Many people believe these field sobriety tests are mandatory. They are not, and if you have had anything to drink, you might be better off refusing the tests, as they could give law enforcement evidence against you.

Further, there are many reasons a person might fail a field sobriety test, and many of them do not involve drinking. Field sobriety tests are often given on the side of the road, on an uneven surface with rocks and gravel. Women, in particular, may be wearing shoes with heels that cause them to do poorly on the tests, and those with balance issues or ear problems could also do poorly on the tests.

Some states have implemented forced blood draws for those who refuse a Breathalyzer test. The constitutionality of this practice has been questioned on many occasions. The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that the refusal of a person accused of DUI to submit to a warrantless blood test cannot be used as evidence to help prove guilt or seek stiffer punishment. That said, the state of Kentucky considers a blood test more reliable than a breath test. If you refuse to take one of these tests, your license can be suspended for a period of 30-120 days. Each subsequent refusal can result in a longer driver’s license suspension.

Ohio, on the other hand, has found forced blood draws to be Constitutional, stating the intrusion on Fourth Amendment rights is outweighed by the promotion of the government’s genuine interest in public safety. Therefore, if you refuse a Breathalyzer and blood test, you could possibly be subjected to a forced blood draw in Ohio. Further, in the state of Ohio, you are not given a choice as to whether you want a blood, breath, or urine test, as the officer chooses the test. Refusing a BAC test in Ohio will also result in longer administrative license suspension, and the results of a forced blood test will be admissible at trial.

What are the Penalties for DUI in Kentucky and Ohio?

In every state, there are both administrative penalties as well as criminal penalties related to a DUI. Administrative penalties refer to the suspension of your driving privileges. These consequences are separate from the consequences you will face if you are convicted of or plead guilty to a DUI or OVI. The penalties for a DUI/OVI in Ohio are based on the number of prior convictions within the past ten years and your BAC level at the time of your arrest.

In 2017, the lookback period for DUI offenses was extended from six years to ten years. If you refuse to take a chemical breath, blood, or urine test, the lookback period will go from ten to 20 years. If your BAC level was .17 or higher in the state of Ohio, you could be charged with an aggravated DUI. The penalties for “standard” DUI/OVI convictions in Ohio include:

  • First offense—a driver’s license suspension from one to three years, from three days to six months in jail, and fines ranging from $375 to $1,075.
  • Second offense—a driver’s license suspension from one to seven years, fines ranging from $525 to $1,625, and from ten days to six months in jail.
  • Third offense—A driver’s license suspension from two to twelve years, fines ranging from $850 to $2,750, and from thirty days to one year in jail.

The judge can also sentence you to participate in the Community Control Sanction, which will reduce your jail time and require completion in a treatment program. If you are convicted of aggravated DUI, a mandated driver’s intervention program could be ordered.

In the state of Kentucky, you will face the following penalties for a DUI conviction:

  • First offense—A first offense DUI could result in revocation of your driver’s license from thirty days to one hundred twenty days, from forty-eight hours to thirty days in county jail, fines of $200 to $500, and a mandatory $375 service fee. In lieu of fines or incarceration, a first-time offender may apply for permission to enter a community labor program for a period of forty-eight hours to thirty days.
  • Second offense—You could face county jail time from seven days to six months, fines from $350 to $500, with a mandatory $375 service fee, and revocation of your driver’s license from twelve to eighteen months. You may have to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle for six months upon the conclusion of your revocation period. You will be required to attend alcohol abuse education or a treatment program for a period of one year and may receive from ten days to six months of community labor.
  • Third offense—If you are convicted for a third DUI, you could spend from thirty days to twelve months in county jail, face fines from $500 to $1,000 plus a mandatory $375 service fee, and you could have your driver’s license revoked for twenty-four to thirty-six months. You will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle for a period of twelve months upon the conclusion of your revocation period. You may be sentenced to from ten days to six months of community labor and could be required to enter a treatment program or alcohol abuse education program for a period of one year.
  • Fourth offense—If you are charged with a fourth or subsequent DUI offense in the state of Kentucky, you will be facing felony charges. You will face a minimum mandatory one hundred twenty days in jail, your fines will be determined by the court, your driver’s license will be revoked for sixty months, you will only be able to operate vehicles with an installed interlock ignition device for a period of thirty months following your period of revocation, and you will be ordered to attend an alcohol abuse education program or a treatment program for one year.

How Long Will a DUI Stay on Your Record?

In the state of Kentucky, a DUI essentially stays on your record for a period of five years. In Ohio, however, an OVI/DUI conviction goes on your Ohio driving record and stays forever. The Driver Abstracts (records available to your insurance company) can only go back three years. This means that even though your DUI will be on your criminal record forever, after three years, your insurance company will no longer be able to see the DUI and penalize you on insurance rates. DUI and OVI convictions are not expungable in the state of Ohio. 

What Defense Will My Covington DUI Defense Attorney Use?

The exact defense your DUI attorney will use will depend on the exact circumstances associated with your charges. Some of the more common defenses used in DUI cases include:

  • You were not given the opportunity to contact an attorney after being arrested, even though you asked to do so. Any evidence garnered after refusing you the right to contact an attorney could suppress evidence and dismiss charges.
  • Your Breathalyzer results were inaccurate for one of the reasons listed above. Most often, a Breathalyzer test is thrown out because the machine had not been properly calibrated or maintained, because the police officer was untrained in administering the test, or because the test was not performed correctly.
  • The officer had no reason to pull you over. Unless you have violated a specific traffic law, a police officer may not pull you over based on a hunch or a guess. An officer may not pull you over simply because he or she witnessed you leaving a bar unless you have broken a specific law.
  • Your field sobriety test results were inaccurate or invalid. Many studies place the accuracy of field sobriety tests between sixty and seventy percent and may be entirely inaccurate when performed on an elderly individual, an individual with a disability, or an overweight individual.
  • There is no evidence you were in actual physical control of the vehicle. In other words, perhaps you had pulled off the road and were sleeping it off. If your keys were not in the ignition and were not within your physical reach, you could not be considered in actual physical control of the vehicle.

How Adams Law Can Help When You Need an Experienced Covington DUI Defense Attorney

If you are facing DUI charges in Kentucky or Ohio, you need a highly experienced Covington DUI defense attorney from Adams Law on your side. We have been helping people just like you for decades. We offer the perfect balance of high-quality legal representation and client experience; every client is important to us, and we will give your DUI charges the attention they deserve. We utilize technology to provide comprehensive, consistent, and affordable representation, and from our Covington office, we have grown to service the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky as well as the greater Cincinnati region. Contact Adams Law today to speak to a knowledgeable Covington DUI defense attorney.

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