First Time DUI Penalties in Ohio

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Clients often ask us, what are the penalties for a first time OVI in Ohio (a.k.a. and DUI, DWI)? This is a hard question to answer as it depends on many variables such as: refusal, high or low tier chemical test, the court, the prosecutor, interactions with officers, attitude, accidents, injuries, and many other things to consider.

A first time OVI in Ohio is:

  • A first-degree misdemeanor,
  • Punishable by up to six (6) months in a local jail,
  • Up to a $1,075 fine
  • Up to five (5) years of probation
  • And up to a three (3) year license suspension.

However, unlike nearly every other first-degree misdemeanor, it has mandatory minimums as well. The mandatory minimums include:

  • Three (3) days in jail,
  • A minimum fine of at least $375,
  • And a license suspension from six (6) months up to three (3) years.

The penalties can go up from there also depending on some factors as well. And there are other, discretionary sanctions the court can impose such as:

  • Drug or alcohol assessment
  • Drug or alcohol treatment
  • Restricted Plates
  • Ignition Interlock

If the first time alcohol OVI is a high test, meaning a breath or whole blood sample of .17 or higher, plasma or blood serum of .204 or higher, or a urine sample of .238 or higher, the minimum penalties are enhanced over that stated above. They include:

  • Six (6) days in jail; or
  • Three (3) days in jail and three (3) days in a driver’s intervention program (“DIP”)
  • Restricted plates

While many courts will not impost the maximum penalties on a first time OVI offender, someone charged with OVI should be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. Again, the actual sentence depends on a variety of factors; every case is different. However, one of the most important factors is the firm you hire to represent you. They must be relentless; they must be knowledgeable; they must be committed to criminal and OVI defense. Brian Jones and myself devote at least three (3) days of OVI specific training every year and often more than that, even in addition to various other continuing legal education classes. Our education and experience allows us to challenge OVI’s in a variety of ways.

This blog post deal primarily with alcohol OVI’s. The other common type of OVI involves being impaired by alcohol or other drugs. Ohio’s OVI statute lists prohibited concentrations of many other drugs as well. Check back soon for another blog post detailing the specifically listed prohibited drugs.

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