An Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated (OVI) charge carries harsh penalties in Ohio. But getting an OVI with a gun in your car carries even harsher ones.
On top of losing your license and firearm privileges, you could face crippling fines and jail time. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to defend yourself. An experienced attorney can help get your charges reduced.
What to Do If You’re Pulled Over with a Gun
If you are in the terrifying situation of being pulled over with a firearm in your vehicle and the police suspect you are intoxicated, don’t panic.
- Be Cooperative with the Officer – Give them your license and registration when they ask for them.
- Tell Them About the Weapon, But Don’t Reach for It – If they ask for it, tell them you will step out of the car so they can grab it.
- Don’t Answer Any Questions – This is how you avoid self-incrimination.
The Consequences of an OVI with a Gun in the Car
Under Ohio law, if you’re arrested and charged with a DUI and a firearm is in your possession, you can also be convicted of using a weapon while intoxicated. This is a first-degree misdemeanor and carries up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
At the same time, you can also be charged with improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle if you knowingly transport or have a loaded gun in the car at the time you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or if your BAC is over Ohio’s legal limit of 0.08. This is a fourth or fifth-degree felony, with penalties between six to 18 months in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
These also don’t include the costs of losing/reinstating any driving privileges, the price of public transportation, and any lost wages from losing your job.
Defending Against an OVI with a Gun in the Car
All is not lost if you’re charged with an OVI and had a firearm in your vehicle. An experienced attorney will know how to build the proper defense for you and find ways to lessen your charges.
Identify Weaknesses in the Case
It might seem like the case is solid, but an attorney will know how to poke holes in it. If the officers didn’t have cause to pull you over or there is a problem with your DUI test results, the related firearm charge may become irrelevant.
Negotiate a Plea
Sometimes, a plea agreement is the best course of action in an OVI involving a gun case. But the prosecutor isn’t always going to think in your favor, so your defense attorney will make sure you’re offered a fair one.
Strategies to Avoid an OVI with a Gun in the Car Charge
The best way to avoid an OVI with a gun charge is to take steps to prevent it before it’s too late.
Leave Firearms at Home When Consuming Alcohol
Remove the firearm from your car before you head out. You can’t legally use it once you’ve had even a sip of alcohol, so it’s not worth keeping anyway.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Firearm or no firearm, never get behind the wheel of a car when you’re intoxicated. This carries penalties and fines that could affect you for the rest of your life.
Contact a Defense Attorney ASAP
An OVI with a gun charge in Ohio can be terrifying. But every case can be improved. You can still argue that your charges will be lessened, dropped, or another favorable result.