Ohio uses the term OVI, or operating a vehicle while under the influence, which is the same as the more commonly used term, DUI, known as driving under the influence. Under Ohio OVI laws, the charge of OVI may also be used in cases in which a driver is alleged to be driving under the influence of other controlled substances such as prescription medications, marijuana, stimulants or hallucinogens.
According to Ohio OVI laws, you can be taken into custody if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent and above. If you are under the age of 21, a BAC of .02 percent will result in OVI charges. As in many other states, a commercial driver can be charged with OVI for a BAC of .04 percent and up.
Implied Consent in Ohio
Ohio has an implied consent law, which means that a person who refuses to submit to a chemical test will be subject to an automatic suspension of his or her license and a fine. If a police officer has reason to believe a person has been driving or is in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence, the officer may ask the person to submit to either a chemical test of the person’s breath, urine or blood.
If the case is likely a misdemeanor OVI for alcohol impairment, the officer will ask the individual to submit to a breath test. If the person is unresponsive, unconscious or appears incapable of refusing a test, the person is assumed to have consented to a chemical test.
It may be possible to plead guilty to a “wet reckless” charge, otherwise known as reckless driving involving alcohol. This is generally the result of a plea agreement. A plea bargain might be arranged when the individual’s BAC is borderline, there has not been an accident and the defendant has no prior OVI convictions. However, if there is a subsequent OVI conviction, the earlier wet reckless will likely be considered a prior OVI conviction. This might increase the penalties for the newer conviction. An individual who is considering a plea bargain for a lesser charge will require the assistance of a lawyer to make arrangements for the plea deal.
OVI Penalties in Ohio
A first OVI conviction may result in a sentence of three days up to six months, a three-day driver intervention program, license suspension between six months to three years, a reinstatement fee of $450 and a fine between $250 and $1,000.
A second conviction for OVI may result in a minimum 10-day jail sentence, electronic home monitoring of 18 days up to six months, fine from $350 to $1,500, license suspension of one to five years, a reinstatement fee of $450, a 90-day vehicle immobilization and a driver intervention program. If your BAC was .17 or more, you may receive a 20-day jail sentence.
Ohio OVI laws include an ignition interlock law, in which judges may require someone convicted of OVI to install an ignition interlock device in his or her car. In addition, all states are encouraged by the federal government to adopt repeat offender and open container laws that meet specific requirements. The state of Ohio does meet federal specifications for open container laws but not for repeat offender laws.
Some states also have alcohol exclusion laws that will allow insurance companies to deny claims for the treatment of a drunk driver’s injuries. Ohio currently has an alcohol exclusion law in effect.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In Ohio?
The legal alcohol limit in Ohio is .08 percent for passenger motorists age 21 and older. People found guilty of driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or greater are typically charged with operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI).
Not all drivers, however, are subject to this designated limit. Exceptions include:
- Motorists not of legal drinking age. Ohio drivers who are under the age of 21 may not drive with a BAC of .02 percent or higher. A BAC of between .02 percent and .08 percent will typically draw a charge of operating a vehicle after underage consumption (OVUAC), while an alcohol level of .08 percent or above brings a standard OVI offense issued adult drivers.
- People with a Commercial Driver’s License. People who drive commercial vehicles – whether a bus, semi-truck or delivery van driver – are subject to stricter BAC limits than passenger motorists. Such drivers who are pulled over with an alcohol level of .04 percent or higher can be arrested and charged with an alcohol-related offense.
Regardless of the class or type of motorist, the penalties for being caught driving while over designated legal alcohol limits are very severe.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In Ohio
One serious punishment following OVI convictions is the loss of driving privileges. This penalty can be very detrimental to one’s livelihood. People receiving this punishment may shorten a non-driving period by installing an ignition interlock device (IID).
An ignition interlock device:
- Requires a breath test in order for a vehicle to start
- Records any failed tests, opening the way for additional penalties
- Must be installed and serviced at the expense of a motorist
A judge may or may not require the installation of an IID after a first-time OVI. All people convicted of repeat offenses are required to have the device installed before driving again.
Ohio OVI Penalties
Driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated are both defined as operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) in Ohio. Drivers will be convicted of an Ohio OVI penalties if they are found to be driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. Drivers under the age of 21 face Ohio’s Zero Tolerance Law, which finds drivers under the age of 21 guilty of an OVI with a BAC of .02.
Under Ohio’s “implied consent” law, all drivers are required to submit to a BAC test if an officer suspects they are driving while impaired. If offenders refuse a breathalyzer test, it will result in a mandatory one- to five-year license suspension.
Ohio OVI Penalties for a First Offense
A first-time OVI conviction results in a mandatory six-month license suspension with a possible three-day jail stay. First-time offenders haGve the possibility of pleading down to a “wet reckless” charge in Ohio. A wet reckless charge occurs when an OVI is reduced to reckless driving involving alcohol. Several factors are considered when reducing an OVI charge. The first factor considered is whether the BAC was only borderline illegal. Other factors include whether or not an accident resulted in the case or if there are any prior OVI convictions. If the defendant receives another OVI conviction, a wet reckless charge will be considered a prior OVI offense.
Ohio OVI Penalties for Multiple Offenses
Multiple offenders will face higher OVI penalties in Ohio. A second OVI conviction results in a one-year license suspension with a minimum 10-day jail stay. If the second conviction occurs within a six-year period of the first conviction, one’s vehicle may be immobilized as well. A third OVI conviction garners a three-year license suspension with a minimum 30-day jail stay. Should an individual be convicted of a fourth OVI, vehicle confiscation is added to the list of penalties. If offenders receive five OVIs within a 20-year period, their names will appear on a Habitual Offender Registry. This registry contains the offender’s name, date of birth, address and a listing of his or her OVI convictions. Offenders will remain on this registry until they no longer have five OVI convictions within the past 20 years.
Ignition Interlock Devices in Ohio
Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs), a device that is wired to one’s vehicle ignition and requires a breath sample before the car can be started, are not required in Ohio. However, if the offender wishes to drive during license suspension, one can be installed according to the judge’s discretion.
Alcohol Education in Ohio
Alcohol education and assessment may be required in any OVI conviction case in Ohio. It is possible that this penalty will take the place of paying fines or serving jail time. OVI fines will vary from case to case and can range from $250 to $10,000. Offenders will also receive six points on their license and pay a $475 fine when the license suspension period ends; at this time offenders must also show proof of financial responsibility.