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The Basics of DUI OVI in Ohio

Getting a DUI in Ohio is a serious crime. Although a first offense is a misdemeanor, it can have lasting effects. In addition, repeat offenders and those who cause serious property damage or injury may face felony charges and harsher penalties.

If you get arrested for a DUI (or driving while intoxicated) in Ohio, you will want to educate yourself on the basics of Ohio DUI law. You will also want to exercise your constitutional right to an Ohio DUI attorney. An attorney can inform you of your available legal defenses and represent you in court.


Most states refer to the crime of driving while intoxicated as either a DWI or a DUI, which stands for driving under the influence.

In Ohio, however, drunk driving is technically referred to as operating a vehicle while under the influence or OVI. However, the terms DUI and DWI are frequently used to describe this crime as well.

If you are arrested in Ohio for drinking and driving, you will be charged with committing OVI.

DUI Prevention Methods in Ohio

OVI occurs frequently in Ohio. In 2009 alone, the Ohio State Highway Patrol made 13,506 DUI arrests.

In 2007, more than one-third of all fatal car accidents in Ohio involved alcohol. In addition, there were a total of 15,054 alcohol-related crashes in Ohio in 2007. Because of these accidents, 473 people died while 8,971 sustained injury.

This is why the state's highway patrol takes drunk driving very seriously. The Ohio Highway Patrol frequently establishes sobriety checkpoints and administers field sobriety tests.

A sobriety checkpoint is a stop along the road set up by state officials. The purpose of this stop is to randomly select drivers to test for intoxication. This test is initially conducted as a visual assessment. The officer will stop a car at the checkpoint and look for signs of alcohol impairment, such as slurred speech or strange behavior.

Additionally, officers may administer field sobriety tests. These tests may be part of a sobriety checkpoint or an officer may administer them when a possibly intoxicated driver is pulled over at a traffic stop.

Field sobriety tests include:

  • Balancing on one leg with your arms to the side
  • Following an object with your eyes while keeping your head stationary
  • Walking a in a straight line, turning, and then walking back

Failing these tests may result in arrest.

Blood-Alcohol Content in Ohio

As in all states, the legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit in Ohio is .08 percent. This means that if you are caught driving with a BAC of .08 or above, you can be arrested for committing OVI in Ohio.

There are different BAC limits for those under the age of 21 and for commercial drivers.

If you are under 21 and are caught with a BAC of .02 or higher, you will be arrested for drunk driving. If you are a commercial driver, such as a truck driver, you will be arrested for committing OVI with a BAC of .04 or higher.

To gauge your BAC, a police officer may administer a breathalyzer test. This test uses a device that the driver blows into. The tool can then measure the driver's BAC based on the alcohol content in the driver's breath.

Ohio has what is known as an implied consent law. This means that when you get your driver's license, there is an implied consent that you agree to BAC testing if a police officer suspects you of drinking and driving. If you refuse to submit to a test for DUI in Ohio, your driver's license will be suspended immediately.

Penalties for DUI in Ohio

The penalties for DUI in Ohio depend on a number of factors. These include whether there was any significant damage to property or serious injury to another person as a result of your drinking and driving; whether your DUI was a first offense; and whether your BAC was at or above .17.

For first-time offenders, you may be sent to jail for from three days to six months, or you may instead have to take a special DUI class for three days. You may also face fines up to $1,000 and suspension of your license fo from six months to three years. If your BAC is at or above .17, your minimum amount of jail time goes up to six days.

As a second-time OVI offender, you face at least 10 days in jail. You could also face electronic home monitoring for from 18 days to 6 months. Fines could be as much as $1,500, and your license can be suspended for up to five years. If your BAC is at or above .17, you face at least 20 days in jail.

A third Ohio OVI conviction is more serious. You face up to a year of jail time. Fines could go as high as $1,500, and your license could be suspended for as much as 10 years. If your BAC is at or above .17, you face a minimum of 60 days in jail.

A fourth conviction is a felony offense in Ohio. Fines of up to $10,000 are possible, and jail time could last as long as a year. You will automatically have to forfeit your vehicle and enter an alcohol treatment program. Also, license suspension could be permanent.