Ohio’s OVI/DUI Laws and Penalties

Learn about the penalties for a first, second, and third OVI conviction in Ohio.

In Ohio, you can get a DUI (driving under the influence), sometimes called an "OVI" (operating a vehicle under the influence), for operating a vehicle while:

  • having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher (often called a “per se” OVI)
  • having a certain concentration of amphetamine, cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, methamphetamine, or PCP in the body, or
  • impaired by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two to an extent that “it adversely affected and appreciably impaired the defendant’s actions, reaction, or mental processes.”

Like all other states, Ohio has “implied consent” laws that generally require all motorists lawfully arrested for OVI to submit to chemical testing (typically of blood, breath, or urine) for the purpose of determining the amount of alcohol or drugs in their system.

Below you’ll find more about Ohio OVI law and some of the possible penalties for an OVI conviction.

Consequences of an OVI Conviction

Here are the penalties for a first, second and third OVI conviction:

  • First offenses. A first offense carries three days to six months in jail, $375 to $1,075 in fines, and a license suspension of one to three years.
  • Second offenses. A second offense carries ten days to six months in jail, $525 to $1,625 in fines, and a license suspension of one to seven years.
  • Third offenses. A third offense carries 30 days to one year in jail, $850 to $2,750 in fines, and a license suspension of two to 12 years.

However, only OVI convictions that occurred within the past ten years are counted.

OVI Sentencing Alternatives

Judges can order an offender to participate in the “Community Control Sanction” program and reduce the normal penalties of an OVI conviction. Along with other requirements (which might include some jail time, house arrest, and electronic alcohol monitoring), the judge can order participants to complete a substance abuse treatment program.

Aggravated OVI Offenses

Operating a vehicle with a BAC of at least .17% is considered an “aggravated” OVI. Drivers who are convicted of aggravated OVI face increased jail time.

Administrative Penalties of an OVI Arrest

An OVI arrest can lead to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) administratively suspending the driver’s license, whether or not the driver is ever convicted of an OVI in criminal court. The administrative suspension is sometimes called an “implied consent” suspension.

Drivers who unlawfully refuse testing or fail a test with a BAC that’s at least .08% or a prohibited concentration of drugs face an implied consent suspension. The length of the suspension is determined by the number of prior OVI convictions and test refusals within the last ten years. Here are the suspensions for a first, second, and third offense:

  • First offenses. A first offense carries a three-month administrative suspension for a failed test and a one-year administrative suspension for a refusal.
  • Second offenses. A second offense carries a one-year administrative suspension for a failed test and a two-year administrative suspension for a refusal.
  • Third offenses. A third offense carries a two-year administrative suspension for a failed test and a three-year administrative suspension for a refusal.

Suspended drivers can petition the court for a limited license. With this license, the motorist will have limited driving privileges but must use an ignition interlock device.

Drivers Who Are Younger Than 21 Years Old

Ohio has an impaired driving law that applies to only drivers who are under the age of 21. For these drivers, it’s illegal to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or more. An underage OVI conviction is a fourth-degree misdemeanor and carries up to 30 days in jail, a maximum $250 in fines, and a license suspension of three months to two years.

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