DUI Charges and Consequences in Ohio

officers and man pulled over in car

OVI Defined

In Ohio, operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI), commonly known as DUI (driving under the influence) can carry significant legal consequences. The consequences worsen with the number of offenses within a ten-year period. It is important to have adequate legal representation when facing a DUI charge.

Ohio Revised Code 4511.19 refers to the act of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination. This can also include drugs that have been prescribed by a doctor, so it is important to be aware of driving restrictions and guidelines for prescribed pharmaceutical drugs.

For individuals aged 21 and older, the legal limit is 0.08% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). For drivers under 21, there is a zero-tolerance policy, meaning any detectable amount of alcohol in their system can result in charges. If a driver’s BAC is above the concentration level for their age bracket, they can face OVI charges.

It’s important to note that a law enforcement officer can make an accusation of OVI if they smell alcohol regardless of BAC level. Therefore it is important to obey traffic laws at all times.

OVI Legal Consequences

Consequences for OVI offenses vary based on factors such as prior convictions, BAC level, and whether or not there was harm caused. Repeat offenders face more severe consequences, with increased fines and longer license suspensions. Penalties will include:

  • fines

  • license suspension or ALS (explained below)

  • mandatory alcohol education programs

  • imprisonment

  • alcohol monitoring devices (described below)

Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) and Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) bracelets are other consequences in Ohio for OVI convictions. IIDs are installed in the vehicles of individuals with OVI convictions and require the driver to pass a breathalyzer test before starting the car. SCRAM bracelets are attached by a probation office and monitor an individual’s perspiration for alcohol content. For those unfamiliar with the court system, the defendant is responsible for a weekly fee for these devices that can be quite expensive. In cases where an OVI results in serious injury or death, the consequences become more severe, including felony charges, substantial fines, and lengthy prison sentences. There is also the possibility of civil litigation in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Ohio’s Administrative License Suspension (ALS) program allows law enforcement to immediately suspend the license of a driver who fails or refuses a chemical test. This suspension is separate from any court-imposed penalties and can be a temporary measure until the court reaches a decision. This can severely impact a driver because they will be unable to drive to work or school while they await the outcome of an OVI case.

The impact of OVI charges extends far beyond legal consequences. A conviction will lead to increased insurance premiums, employment difficulties, and damage to one’s reputation. Some employers may hesitate to hire individuals with a history of DUI convictions, especially for positions that include driving. If a convicted person has a CDL, that license can be revoked causing unemployment in their field.

How Can a DUI Defense Attorney Help?

It is crucial for individuals facing OVI charges in Ohio to promptly seek legal counsel. An experienced DUI attorney can:

  • file for driving privileges while the defendant waits for hearings or a trial to conclude

  • navigate the complexities of OVI/DUI cases,

  • challenge evidence by filing motions for suppression

  • work to minimize the impact of the charges

  • mitigate consequences if convicted

Overall the repercussions of being accused of driving while under the influence can have significant financial implications in both the short and long term. Whether it is a first offense or two or more within ten years, an experienced DUI defense attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of a case.

Written by The Law Office of Brian Jones, LLC & Jones Holistic Defense

  • Benjamin Jackoby, Ph.D.


Ohio Laws and Administrative Rules, ORC 4511.19

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