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Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pfeifer on Repeat OVI Convictions

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Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OVI) is a continuing issue in Ohio – Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) officers have stopped nearly 18,000 drivers across the state for OVI enforcement reasons through the beginning of September[1]. Earlier this year, the Ohio State Supreme Court ruled that raising the felony level and increasing the mandatory prison sentence for repeat OVI convictions doesn’t violate the Equal Protection Clause in a 7-0 ruling.

The ruling was the result of a four year legal battle that started with the arrest of Dean Klembus in 2012, his sixth OVI-related arrest in 20 years. Due to his prior convictions, Klembus was charged with two fourth-degree felonies and faced two years in prison. He argued against the felony charges, stating that it was unconstitutional and violated the equal protection clause by allowing the state to seek increased punishment without needing to provide any further proof.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul E. Pfeifer wrote a guest column for the Springfield News-Sun last week, commenting on the court’s through process behind their unanimous ruling in that case.

“The resulting sentencing range for defendants in Klembus’s position is not illogical or arbitrary when compared to the sentencing ranges for other repeat OVI offenders. The possibility of longer prison sentences for those who continue to violate Ohio’s OVI law is rationally related to the state’s legitimate interest in punishing offenders and protecting the public from the dangers of impaired driving.”

Klembus isn’t the only repeat OVI offender in Ohio; it’s an unfortunately common occurrence, so much so that Ohio law has established different charges based on the number of prior convictions. Someone with only one prior OVI conviction can face a maximum of six months in jail, while someone with as many as five prior OVI convictions will be charged with a fourth-degree felony and a base maximum of 30 months in jail.

Whether you were charged with your first OVI or fifth, your next step should be to hire a quality OVI attorney as soon as possible. The Koffel Law Firm understands what it takes to maximize your legal outcome, and has more than 8,000 cases worth of experience to prove it. Not only do we have the track record of success you need from your OVI lawyer, our founding attorney Bradley Koffel was named 2017 DUI/DWI Defense “Lawyer of the Year” in Columbus, OH. You can call us at (614) 675-4845 to speak with one of our Columbus OVI attorneys, or you can fill out the form on our website to send us your information.

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