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What Penalties Am I Facing For An OVI/DUI Case In Ohio?

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If you are pulled over and arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) in Ohio, your first concern is likely what penalties you might be facing. The law allows for different penalties for an OVI conviction, depending on the circumstances of your arrest and the allegations against you. In many cases, possible penalties include fines, an administrative license suspension, possible time in jail, and more. The following is an overview of possible penalties for different accusations.

First OVI

The consequences can be serious even for a first-time OVI offender. These might include: 

  • First-degree misdemeanor conviction
  • Three days to six months in jail
  • Fines from $375 to $1,075
  • Driver’s license suspension from six months to three years, with possible limited driving privileges after 15 days 

The above apply if blood or breath tests indicated that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was “low,” which means it was between .08% and .17%. If your BAC was considered to be “high,” or over .17%, the minimum jail time might be increased from three days to six days in many situations.

Second OVI

The law takes multiple offenders seriously, and the consequences for a second OVI within a 10-year period of time might include: 

  • First-degree misdemeanor conviction
  • Ten days to six months in jail
  • Fines up to $1,500
  • Driver’s license suspension for one year or longer, with possible limited driving privileges after 45 days 

Again, the above is for “low” BAC charges. For BAC readings above .17%, the minimum jail time can be increased to 20 days. As an alternative to the minimum jail time, you might be able to serve fewer days in jail with additional time under house arrest or continuous alcohol monitoring. For example, for a low BAC offense, you might serve five days in jail plus 18 days on house arrest or monitoring. A high BAC offense can require 10 days in jail plus 36 days on house arrest or monitoring.

Third OVI

The possible sentence keeps increasing if you have two prior convictions on your record, and the following are some possible penalties for a third OVI within 10 years: 

  • First-degree misdemeanor conviction
  • 30 days to one year in jail
  • Fines up to $2,500
  • Driver’s license suspension for two years or longer, with possible limited driving privileges after 180 days 

For BAC readings above .17%, the minimum jail time can be increased to 60 days. Other possibilities might include 15 days in jail plus 55 days on house arrest or monitoring for low BAC, or 30 days in jail plus 110 days on house arrest or monitoring for high BAC.

Felony OVI

You might face felony OVI charges if you have three or four convictions in the past six years or five prior convictions in the past 20 years. The penalties significantly increase for felony charges, including: 

  • Fourth or third-degree felony conviction
  • One to five years in state prison
  • Fines up to $10,500
  • Driver’s license suspension of three years to life, with possible limited driving privileges after three years
  • Mandatory alcohol and drug addiction program

Refusal To Submit To Testing

At a traffic stop, law enforcement officers might request that you submit a breath sample for a breathalyzer test. Ohio’s implied consent law states that drivers automatically consent to such a test and sets out penalties for a refusal to submit to testing. These penalties can be imposed whether or not you are convicted of OVI, and they involve: 

  • First-degree misdemeanor conviction
  • Three days to six months in jail
  • Fines from $375 to $1,075
  • Driver’s license suspension as follows:
    • First offense in 10 years = One-year suspension with possible limited driving privileges after 30 days
    • Second offense in 10 years = Two-year suspension with possible limited driving privileges after 90 days
    • Third offense in 10 years = Three-year suspension with possible limited driving privileges after one year
    • Fourth offense in 10 years = Five-year suspension with possible limited driving privileges after three years

Underage OVI/OVUAC

There is no “legal limit” of .08% BAC for drivers who are not of the legal drinking age. If you are under 21, there is a zero-tolerance law for OVI, and you can be arrested for having even the slightest amount of alcohol in your blood. The possible penalties for underage OVI with a BAC under .08% can include: 

  • First offense = Up to 30 days in jail, fines up to $250, and a license suspension for 90 days to two years with limited privileges possible after 60 days
  • Second offense in one year = Up to 60 days in jail, fines up to $500, and a license suspension for one to five years with limited privileges possible after 60 days

Drugged Driving/DUID

OVI also applies to driving while under the influence of drugs (DUID). This charge can involve any substance that impairs your ability to operate a vehicle, including illegal narcotics, marijuana, or even prescription drugs. For a first-time offense, you can face similar penalties as you would for a first offense of an alcohol-related OVI.

Professional Consequences

In addition to fines, jail time, license suspension, and other court-imposed penalties for OVI, a conviction can cause problems with your professional life. Some OVI consequences for professionals can include: 

  • Loss of your job
  • Difficulty finding new employment
  • Losing or being denied a professional license
  • Disciplinary action from a licensing board
  • Loss of a commercial driver’s license
  • Loss of a pilot’s license 

Because the penalties for an OVI in Ohio can be serious, it is important that you seek assistance from a qualified OVI defense lawyer as soon as possible.  

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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