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Actual Physical Control

Most people understand that they can be arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OVI) in Ohio, but a person can also be arrested in the Buckeye State for being in “physical control” of a motor vehicle while intoxicated. The physical control law is based on potential and intended to allow authorities to theoretically stop a crime before it happens.

Unfortunately, the law makes no exceptions for alleged offenders who had no intention whatsoever of driving, such as those who might have had too much to drink and intended to sleep it off. If the person was sitting in the driver’s seat and had the keys in the ignition or within easy reach, then the prosecutor will argue that the person was in actual physical control even if the prosecutor can’t prove that the offender drove the car to that location or intended to drive away from that location while under the influence.

OVI Lawyer for Physical Control Arrest in Cincinnati, Ohio

Were you arrested in Central Ohio for allegedly being in physical control of a motor vehicle while you were intoxicated? The Joslyn Law Firm fights these charges for clients all over Cincinnati and surrounding areas of Hamilton County such as Middletown, Hamilton, Lebanon, and Norwood.

Cincinnati OVI attorney Brian Joslyn also serves many nearby communities such as Wilmington in Greene County, Oxford in Clinton County, and Fairfield in Clermont County. He can review your case and help you understand all of your legal options as soon as you call (513) 339-6289 right now to schedule a completely free initial consultation.


Hamilton County Actual Physical Control Information Center

  • What does it mean to be in physical control of a motor vehicle in Ohio?
  • What are the consequences of a physical control conviction?
  • Where can I learn more about physical control cases?

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Defining Having Physical Control of Vehicle While OVI in Ohio

Ohio Revised Code § 4511.194 defines physical control as “being in the driver's position of the front seat of a vehicle or in the driver's position of a streetcar or trackless trolley and having possession of the vehicle's, streetcar's, or trackless trolley's ignition key or other ignition device.”

No person can be in physical control of a vehicle if, at the time of the alleged physical control, the alleged offender is under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them.

People can be charged with being in physical control of a vehicle even when the keys are not in their ignition. As long as the keys to start the automobile are in an alleged offender’s immediate control or nearby enough (such as on the passenger seat or dashboard), that person can be deemed to be in physical control of the vehicle.

In essence, the physical control statue allows police to criminally charge a person who did not cause the movement of the vehicle necessary to arrest the alleged offender for OVI.


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Physical Control Penalties in Ohio

Like OVI, a physical control violation is a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio. An alleged offender who is convicted of this offense faces the following penalties:

  • Up to 180 days in jail;
  • Fine of up to $1,000;
  • Possible restricted license plates (yellow plates with red type); and/or
  • Installation of ignition interlock device in automobile.

Alleged offenders can also be subject to a possible class seven suspension of their driver’s licenses for up to one year. If a person refuses to submit to chemical testing, that can also trigger an automatic Administrative License Suspension (ALS).


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Ohio Resources for Actual Physical Control

City of Cincinnati v. Kelley — On July 14, 1976, the Supreme Court of Ohio decided this case concerning the constitutionality of the phrase “actual physical control.” Whereas the state law prohibited people from operating a vehicle while under the influence, a local ordinance prohibited people from operating or being in actual physical control of any vehicle within this city. In reversing the opinion of the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court concluded that the “appellee was under the influence of alcohol and was in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time of his arrest.” It defined "actual physical control," as being “that a person be in the driver's seat of a vehicle, behind the steering wheel, in possession of the ignition key, and in such condition that he is physically capable of starting the engine and causing the vehicle to move.”

Ohio Revised Code § 4511.194 — You can review the full text of the statute for “Having physical control of vehicle while under the influence” that first became effective on January 1, 2005. The statute covers the ways that a person can be determined to be under the influence and the admissibility of field sobriety tests in criminal prosecution.


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Find a Lawyer for Physical Control of Vehicle While Under the Influence in Cincinnati, OH

If you were arrested for allegedly being in physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated in Central Ohio, do not think that you do not need to take the charges seriously because the offense is not the same as a DUI arrest. A physical control conviction can still have very long-lasting consequences for alleged offenders.

Brian Joslyn is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio who represents clients all over Hamilton County and surrounding areas like Butler in Butler County, Mason in Franklin County, Marysville in Warren County, and many more.

Call (513) 339-6289 or submit an online form today to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation with an experienced OVI attorney in Cincinnati, OH.


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