Drinking And Driving Before 21 Years Of Age: How A Juvenile OVI Conviction May Come-Back To Haunt A Person (Part I)

A couple days ago, my good friend and drinking buddy were discussing OVI convictions as they relate to juveniles.  Before you start judging me over my conversation choices, my friend is an OVI attorney as well and we talk about this crap all the time.  It is all we have, so please…no judging!

In any event, the main conversation dealt with sealing and ultimately expunging a juvenile traffic violation.  In juvenile court, a juvenile traffic offender is eligible for sealing his record six months after the last contact with the court and is eligible for expungement five years after his last contact with the court.  Obviously, my buddy wanted to make sure that his juvenile client’s traffic record of an OVI could be sealed and expunged.  This is smart lawyering on my buddy’s part because an OVI out of the juvenile court can and will count for OVI enhanceability purposes.

Annnnnnnnd I can feel you rolling your eyes over reading that above paragraph.  What the hell are you talking about Kopacz?!?

Well, for all you non-OVI geeks out there, OVI is an enhanceable offense in the great state of Ohio.  Meaning, the more OVI convictions a person has the stiffer the penalties are for each subsequent OVI citation.  For example, a person that was convicted of their first OVI in 2014 and is cited for an OVI in 2016 will now face a harsher mandatory sentencing scheme if convicted of their second OVI within a six year period.

Key word in the above example is conviction.  In the juvenile court world, a juvenile is consider an offender not a defendant and is adjudicated delinquent rather than convicted.  To make things even more fun, a juvenile offender admits to a violation of the law rather than entering a guilty plea.  The reasoning behind this is because a juvenile court proceeding is a civil action instead of a criminal case.

Offender…defendant, adjudicated delinquent….convicted, gold jacket….green jacket who gives a shit right?

R.C. 4511.19(G) lays out the sentencing structure for individuals who have been previously convicted of OVIs.  Once again, keyword convicted, not adjudicated delinquent!   However, in State v. Adkins, 2011-Ohio-3141, the Ohio Supremes found that R.C. 2901.08 provides that an offender’s juvenile adjudication for delinquency is a conviction for purposes of determining the sentence to be imposed for a later offense.  Thus, juvenile adjudications can be counted under R.C. 4511.19(G) for sentencing purposes. Id.

Once again, this shows the importance of talking with an experienced DUI/OVI attorney to help explain how even a juvenile OVI adjudication or an underage OVI conviction can come back to haunt an individual.

In part two of this blog article, I will talk about uncounseled juvenile OVI adjudications may just save a person’s backside for purposes of OVI enhanceability!


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