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What is OVI in Ohio

What is OVI in Ohio? I typically use the term DUI in my articles because that is what most people commonly call the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol.  Even Ohio lawyers loosely use the term DUI, rather than the official term of OVI.  DWI is typically recognized as an outdated term by both laypeople and professionals.   What are DUI, OVI, DWI, and BAC in Ohio? DUI is driving under the influence.  DWI is driving while impaired.  DUI and DWI are acronyms that are no longer used in Ohio since Ohio enacted a law in 1982 that refers to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs as OMVI or “operating a motor vehicle impaired.”  But, what is OVI in Ohio if OMVI was the official term at one point?  When Ohio removed the requirement that the vehicle be motorized, the offense was shortened to OVI, or “operating a vehicle impaired.”  This leaves us with the term BAC, which is still alive and well today in the law.  BAC refers to blood alcohol content.  In Ohio, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .08 breath alcohol content or greater.  If the driver is under 21 years of age, the legal limit is as low as .02 breath alcohol content.  For many people, that can be reached with as little as one drink within the hour before testing.   (more…)

Battle Between The Landlord And Tenant For The Security Deposit

There are several rules setting forth the rights and duties between a landlord and the tenants in Ohio when the tenants are using the premises as their home. This article will focus on the tenants’ right to a security deposit, as well as the landlord’s right to use the security deposit.  In other words, we will look at the batter between the landlord and tenant for the security deposit.  The landlord must return a tenant’s security deposit within thirty days of the day the tenant vacates the property as long as:  
  1. The rent has been paid in full;
  2. The premises have no damage beyond normal wear and tear; and
  3. The tenant gave the landlord a mailing address where the security deposit could be sent.
  Any security deposit withheld must be listed in a written itemization of damage or unpaid rent, which must be sent to the tenant along with the remainder of the security deposit. Damage does not include normal wear and tear.  Normal wear and tear includes routine property maintenance.   (more…)

Piercing The Corporate Veil In Ohio

Shareholders are usually not liable for the debts of the corporation. In a simple breach of contract case, creditors may only be able to pursue the corporation.  However, creditors of a corporation may sue the shareholders directly if the following are true:  (1) control over the corporation by those held to be liable was so complete that the corporation has no separate mind, will, or existence of its own; (2) control over the corporation by those to be held liable was exercised in such a manner to commit fraud or an illegal act against the person seeking to disregard the corporate entity; and (3) injury or unjust loss resulted to the creditors from such control and wrong.  This is otherwise known as piercing the corporate veil in Ohio.   (more…)

Pay To Stay In Jail

Many county jails in Ohio have a pay to stay in jail policy. The ACLU issued a report on this practice, stating that this burdens a population that likely cannot afford such fees in the first place.  Potential fees include booking fees and daily lodging fees.  According to the report, the jails in Holmes County, Medina County, Cuyahoga County, Ashland County and Summit County do not charge any of these fees.  The Wayne County jail was listed a charging a $10 booking fee but no daily fees.  The counties that offer work release as an option usually charge daily work release fees.  A work release pay to stay program may not have the same concerns cited by the ACLU because the inmates are being given the opportunity to earn amounts greater than the cost of their stay in jail.   (more…)

Filler Weight Is Included In Drug Cases

Filler weight is included in drug cases. Believe it or not, it is illegal to possess and sell fake drugs in Ohio.  Fake drugs are officially referred to as counterfeit controlled substances.  While a controlled substance is usually part of a class of illegal or strictly regulated substances, a counterfeit controlled substance is a non-controlled substances that a reasonable person would believe to be a controlled substance because of its similarity in shape, size, color, markings, labeling, packaging, distribution, or price.   (more…)

Should Filler Weight Be Included In Ohio Drug Cases

  Should filler weight be included in Ohio drug cases? Many drug offenses are based on the weight of the controlled substance found in the suspect’s possession. However, the tests performed by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) do not test for the purity of the substance. When cocaine is cut with sugar or some other filler material, should the level of offense be based on the actual weight of the cocaine or the total weight of the cocaine and filler?  Most appellate districts in Ohio have ruled that the total weight of the controlled substance and filler can be used.   (more…)

Juveniles Can Be Tried As Adults In Ohio

A child under 18 years of age would ordinarily have his or her case heard in juvenile court. In order to try that child as an adult, the child must have been 14 years old or older at the time of the offense.  As long as the age limit and certain other criteria are met, juveniles can be tried as adults in Ohio.   (more…)

Business Income In Ohio Child Support and Divorce

One of the more difficult tasks in calculating child support and spousal support for Ohio divorce and child custody is calculating and determining business income.  Business income in Ohio child support and divorce is complex and filled with pitfalls.  It can be frustrating to watch the opposing parent reduce his or her income significantly through business expenses.  Does this mean that the opposing parent’s income can be reduced from $120,000 in gross receipts down to a net profit of $30,000, simply because he or she claimed $90,000 in business expenses?  Not necessarily.

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Medicaid Planning In Ohio Can Include Annuities

Medicaid planning in Ohio can include annuities.  An annuity can be an effective Medicaid planning and estate planning device, if done properly.  This article will focus on annuities as a Medicaid planning device.   An annuity is a product sold by insurance companies, which pays you back in payments over a set number of years.  I discussed annuities in more detail in a previous article.   (more…)

Estate Planning In Ohio Can Include Annuities

Estate planning in Ohio can include annuities.  An annuity can be an effective estate planning and Medicaid planning device, if done properly.  This article will focus on annuities as an estate planning device.   An annuity is an insurance product, which does one of the following: pays you back in payments over time; pays you back when you decide to draw the money out; or pays named beneficiaries when you die.  An immediate annuity pays fixed payments over a certain number of years or over your lifetime.  A deferred annuity earns interest and dividends until you decide to withdraw the money.  Annuities are different than bank accounts, as they are not insured by the FDIC.  Some of the money is guaranteed by the Ohio Guaranteed Insurance Fund.  While the amount of gain is taxed, the original investment is not.   (more…)

Estate Taxes in Ohio

Even though the Ohio estate tax was repealed effective January 1, 2013, there are still estate taxes in Ohio.  A decedent’s estate may still have to pay a federal estate tax of 40% of the gross estate that is more than $5.34 million.  5.34 million dollars is the exempt amount that is not subject to federal taxation.  One may deduct funeral and burial expenses, payment of debts, charitable gifts, and most transfers to the surviving spouse.  One cannot exempt transfer on death or payable on death property from estate taxes.   A federal estate tax return (Form 706) does not always need to be filed.  When the decedent’s gross estate is more than the exempt amount, the return must be filed, even if it shows that no tax is owed.  Filing a federal estate tax return can allow a surviving spouse to combine his or her exemption with the deceased spouse, otherwise called a “portability election.”  If a wife inherits five million dollars from her deceased husband and files a federal estate tax return on the unused exemption, the wife would have $10.34 million in exemptions available in her estate upon her death.   (more…)

Enforcing Ohio Divorce Decrees

An Ohio domestic relations court not only has the power to issue a divorce decree, but it also has the power to enforce it.  Enforcing Ohio divorce decrees is important because, without enforcement power, the decree would simply be a list of suggestions.  The divorce court enforces its orders through its contempt power.  Typically, the wronged party files a motion to show cause as to why a party should not be held in contempt of court.  The prosecuting attorney can file a motion for contempt for failure to pay child support.  The court then sets the matter for hearing for the offending party to appear before the court and explain why he or she should not be held in contempt.   If someone is held in civil contempt of court, he or she will be given a chance to correct the situation, commonly referred to as a purge period.  Failure to purge contempt in the time allotted can result in a jail term.  Repeated contempt motions can result in longer jail terms for failure to purge contempt.   (more…)

Ohio’s Sudden Emergency Defense To Personal Injury Claims

Ohio’s sudden emergency defense to personal injury claims should be considered when pursuing and filing a personal injury case.  You can certainly bet that the insurance company and their lawyers will be considering and raising this defense if they believe it can defeat a personal injury claim.  A good personal injury lawyer always anticipates the defenses in building a case for the client.   What is the sudden emergency doctrine?  The sudden emergency defense consists of:
  1. The person was confronted by a sudden or unexpected emergency;
  2. The claimed emergency was not the result of any fault of the person or any circumstance under the person’s control; and
  3. The person exercised such care as a reasonably cautious person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances.
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Can An Ohio Police Officer Arrest Someone Outside Their Jurisdiction?

Can an Ohio police officer arrest someone outside their jurisdiction? A police officer cannot arrest someone for a crime committed outside of their jurisdictional limits.  The question is what their jurisdictional limits are.  The state highway patrol and sheriffs or their deputies have the power to make arrests for violations on all state highways, but only for certain listed offenses.  Generally, all other police officers are limited to the area they were elected or appointed to serve.  Township police officers who are not commissioned peace officers cannot enforce traffic laws on any state highway.  Commissioned peace officers serving a township with a population of 50,000 or less cannot exercise their powers on interstate system highways.  Out of town officers hired or appointed by the local department have authority in that area for that limited time.   (more…)

Ohio Maximum Prison Terms And Jail Time

What are the Ohio maximum prison terms and jail time? While there are a number of offenses that carry life in prison, the death penalty, or are subject to enhanced penalties or reduced maximum penalties, this article will focus on the ten basic levels of offenses in Ohio.   The Ohio sentencing classifications from most severe to least severe are: first degree felony (3-10 years in prison); second degree felony (2-8 years in prison); third degree felony (1-5 years in prison); fourth degree felony (6-18 months in prison); fifth degree felony (6-12 months in prison); first degree misdemeanor (up to 6 months in jail); second degree misdemeanor (up to 90 days in jail); third degree misdemeanor (up to 60 days in jail); fourth degree misdemeanor (up to 30 days in jail); minor misdemeanor (up to a $150 fine but no jail time).   (more…)

Child Custody In Ohio

How is child custody decided in Ohio? These issues are decided by domestic relations and juvenile courts in Ohio.  For disputes between parents, the domestic relations courts in Medina County, Summit County and Cuyahoga County hear such cases.  In Wayne County, Ohio, the domestic relations court hears child custody cases in divorce and post-divorce decree cases.  The Wayne County juvenile court hears child custody cases between unmarried parents.  For purposes of this article, we will refer to all these courts as the Ohio child custody court.   The Ohio child custody court must decide between sole custody to one parent and shared parenting with both parents. The parent who is awarded sole custody becomes the child’s legal custodian and will make decisions about non-emergency medical care, education, religion, discipline and extra-curricular activities.  The sole legal custodian must let the non-custodial parent know about such matters but will make the final decisions.   (more…)

What Defenses Are Available In Ohio Personal Injury Cases?

A good offense in fighting for injured people involves anticipating the defenses that will be raised by the person who caused the injury. What defenses are available in Ohio personal injury cases?   In most personal injury cases, there are four things the injured person must prove: (1) the defendant owed you a duty of care; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) the breach of the duty was the proximate cause of your injury; and (4) personal injury, property damage or both. The first defense is simply to show that the injured person failed to prove these things.  Careful attention to the details of the accident and how those details compare to the injuries make the difference in getting the recovery that you deserve.   (more…)

When Personal Injury Is Caused By Negligence

Typically, a personal injury claim is based on negligence. Negligence occurs when someone causes harm by failing to take the degree of care that an ordinarily careful and reasonable person would take under the same or similar circumstances. For example, a reasonable person should watch the road while they are driving. If the driver is texting and driving and fails to see a car stopped in front of him or her, the driver is negligently failing to watch the road. That driver would be liable for any harm the results from the that negligent act.   When personal injury is caused by negligence, there are four things the injured person must prove: (1) the defendant owed you a duty of care; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) the breach of the duty was the proximate cause of your injury; and (4) personal injury, property damage or both. Using our example, the driver owed the other drivers on the road the duty of care of complying with Ohio traffic laws. When that driver breached that duty by texting and failing to watch the road, and striking the vehicle in front of the driver, the driver failed to maintain an assured clear distance as required under Ohio law. The driver’s action is the proximate cause of the damage to the other vehicle and the people inside the other vehicle. The damages may include the monetary amount required to repair or replace the vehicle and to treat the injury from the accident.   (more…)

Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal?

Can police use sobriety checkpoints to stop and check to see if the drivers may be driving under the influence of alcohol? In other words, are sobriety checkpoints legal?   The United States Supreme Court held that sobriety checkpoints are valid. In their decision, the Court found that the intrusion and inconvenience to individuals who are stopped is outweighed by the government’s interest in restricting drunk driving. Ohio courts determined that there are four factors to determining the legality of a sobriety checkpoint: (1) a checkpoint location must be selected for its safety and visibility to oncoming motorists; (2) adequate advance warning signs illuminated at night, must timely inform approaching motorists of the nature of the impending intrusion; (3) uniformed officers and official vehicles must be in sufficient quantity and visibility to show the police power of the community; and (4) policy-making administrative officers must make a pre-determination of the roadblock location, time, and procedures to be employed, according to carefully formulated standards and neutral criteria.   (more…)

Can The Police Use My Statement Against Me?

People accused of crimes often ask: “can the police use my statement against me?” In order for a statement to be used against someone in court, the statement must be voluntary and may also need Miranda warnings prior to the statement being given. A truly voluntary statement is important and valuable, because a confession given under torture or abusive conditions may simply be someone telling their tormentor what he or she wants to hear in order to make the torture stop.   The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution gives people the right to remain silent and to be free from being forced to incriminate himself or herself. These rights in the 5th Amendment also mandate that any statements must be voluntary. The Ohio Supreme Court cited the following factors in determining whether a statement is voluntary include: totality of the circumstances, age, mentality, and prior criminal experience of the accused; the length, intensity, and frequency of the interrogation; the existence of physical deprivation or mistreatment; and the existence of threat or inducement.   (more…)

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