Charges of operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) are serious. In Ohio, a conviction can land you a big fine, up to six months in jail, a suspended license for three years, higher insurance rates and more. These harsh consequences mean it’s always in your best interests to fight the charges.

It’s better, however, to avoid being charged in the first place. If you want to stay out of handcuffs over an OVI charge, here are the things you need to remember:

  1. It’s not just alcohol that can get you into trouble. While OVIs are generally thought of as “drunk driving” charges, you can be charged for driving while impaired by drugs, as well. That includes both legal and illegal substances, like cough medication and marijuana.
  2. Charts and pocket testing devices don’t work. You’ve probably seen those charts that tell you how much it’s safe to drink before driving. Maybe you own a pocket device or an app that will test your blood alcohol content. The only problem with those things is that they aren’t reliable and you can end up with a false sense of security.
  3. The only sure-fire way to avoid a charge is to get a ride. If you are under the influence of any kind of drug that affects your cognitive abilities or you’ve been drinking, the smart thing to do is to get a ride. Call a friend, call a taxi or get an Uber. The price you pay for the ride is far less than what you’d pay if you end up being charged.

All that being said, mistakes happen — and one simple mistake shouldn’t ruin your life. If you’ve been charged, find out what it takes to mount a vigorous defense.