If you are ever arrested for suspected drunk driving, expect the police to tell you that refusing to take a breath test will result in your driver's license being suspended for 90 days. As was recently reported by The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio law requires officers to tell suspects that.
What may be less well known, and which is not required to be shared by the authorities, is that lawmakers have stiffened penalties for refusing to submit to voluntary blood, urine or breath tests to gauge blood alcohol content. For a person who has never been convicted of an OVI offense, operating a vehicle while impaired, it's an automatic one-year suspension of driving privileges.
The point we seek to make here is that the circumstances of any given case can lead to any number of outcomes. But one thing that is consistent is that outcomes depend on the evidence prosecutors have. And voluntarily submitting to BAC tests may represent a situation in which a person is providing self-incriminating evidence.
Given the nature of the system, and that many people don't know what their rights or options are, it is always a good idea to consult an attorney before dealing with the police.
The question behind the Dispatch story was, why is it that some people accused and convicted of repeat drunk driving offenses are able to plead guilty to lesser charges and avoid felony charges? And the answer offered by both prosecutors and defense attorneys was that it depends on the evidence.
The report, which looked at 11 years worth of OVI court cases in Franklin County, observed that the number of people refusing to submit to BAC tests has been on the rise in recent years.
While the numbers of convictions for OVI don't seem to be on the decline, prosecutors don't like the trend. Still, defense attorneys suggest it should not be surprising that suspects might be becoming more astute about not providing authorities the evidence that could later be used against them in court.
Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Repeated OVI arrests still can end in plea deal," John Futty and Jennifer Smith Richards, May 11, 2014