Penalties for OVI in Ohio
Ohio has some of the strongest drunk driving laws in the country. If you are found guilty of an OVI or similar charge, you could face:
- Mandatory jail or prison sentence
- Mandatory license suspension (Administrative License Suspension or ALS)
- Expensive fines
- Special license plates that publicly identify you as a drunk driver
- Interlock ignition device with a breath test to prevent future drunk driving
- Mandatory ankle bracelet
- Mandatory alcohol assessment and treatment
- Probation term up to five years
Joslyn Law Firm aggressively fights for your freedom with customized defense strategies. We know that you do not want an OVI charge to interfere with your education, career, relationships, and future success.
If you’ve been charged with an OVI in Ohio (which some states call a DUI or DWI), you probably want to know some specifics of DUI penalties in Ohio. To help you know what you’re up against, we’ve put together the following information about Ohio DUI penalties.
- OVI Charges
- Specific OVI Penalties
- Administrative Penalties You Could Face if You Refuse a Chemical Test
- Criminal Penalties for OVI in Ohio
- Three Strikes and OVI Penalties Become Felonies
- A Felony Charge Follows You Throughout Your Life
- Evidence in OVI Cases
- Defending Against an OVI Charge
- Legal Victories in OVI Cases
- Ohio OVI Resources for You and Your Loved Ones
- Recent News Stories About OVI in Ohio
- FAQ About OVI Cases
- We Fight Back Against OVI Penalties in Ohio
OVI Charges Require Special Attention that Our Legal Team Provides
Our legal team has successfully resolved over 20,000 cases, with charges dropped or reduced for many of our clients. We understand the challenges of mounting a defense for OVI charges and look forward to helping you with your case.
If you face OVI penalties, you could be sentenced to jail or prison, pay a steep fine, and even lose your driving privileges. The consequence of carrying this stain on your personal, professional, and financial future is too great to risk by facing these charges alone. Call Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a consultation about your case.
Each year, the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) and other law enforcement agencies arrest thousands of motorists for Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI). The definition of an OVI or similar charge is simple: you are accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (or both).
Your life may change forever because of a legal error or a singular mistake made by an otherwise law-abiding citizen. You deserve to understand the nature of the charges against you and to have a criminal defense lawyer from our firm by your side.
Ways you could be charged with OVI
You may be charged with an OVI according to Ohio Revised Code Statute § 4511.19.
Twenty-five conditions determine if you can be charged with OVI, including:
- Operating a vehicle while your blood alcohol content (BAC) test result is .08% or greater.
- Operating a vehicle while your BAC or urine test indicates an illegal amount of a single controlled substance.
- Operating a vehicle while your BAC or urine test shows that you have an illegal amount of a specific controlled substance in addition to an illegal amount of alcohol.
- Operating a vehicle while your BAC or urine test reveals a combination of controlled substances.
Operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol applies while driving a car, truck, motorcycle, or another vehicle type as defined by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).
A criminal defense lawyer from our team can help protect you from Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI) penalties in Ohio. Joslyn Law Firm creates a customized defense strategy designed for the best possible outcome for your case.
An OVI defense lawyer in central Ohio helps you exercise your legal rights as we fight to defend your freedom and liberty.
Our firm’s founder, attorney Brian Joslyn, understands firsthand how innocent people can find themselves trapped in our complex judicial system. He is an award-winning attorney dedicated to helping others through legal challenges when circumstances or poor choices seem overwhelming.
Joslyn earned the AV Preeminent Award for attorneys of exceptional achievement. He is also included in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers and in the top ten of the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys.
Specific OVI Penalties
There are two types of penalties you could face if you are arrested on OVI charges:
- Administrative penalties that affect your license and driving privileges through the Ohio BMV
- Criminal penalties from the court during criminal proceedings
Some of the administrative and criminal penalties are required, and there are no exceptions. However, a criminal defense lawyer with Joslyn Law Firm may be able to negotiate on your behalf to eliminate or reduce penalties in your specific case.
Administrative Penalties You Could Face if You Refuse a Chemical Test
There are three types of chemical tests commonly used to determine if you could be arrested for OVI or a similar charge:
- Breath: you blow into a breathalyzer test device to measure your blood alcohol content.
- Blood: a sample is drawn via a needle and tested for drugs or alcohol.
- Urine: you submit a sample of urine for testing.
When you refuse to submit to testing, the officer can take away your license immediately with a suspension period ranging from one to five years. You will also pay a reinstatement fee and must continue to show proof of insurance through the suspension period.
Driver’s License Suspensions Depend on Your Record of Refusal
The Administrative License Suspension (ALS) guidelines determine how long your driving privileges may be suspended.
This suspension is influenced by:
- How many times you have refused a chemical test in the past ten years.
- Your number of suspensions in the past ten years.
- Your number of OVI convictions in the past ten years.
- The mandatory waiting period before you may apply for reinstatement of limited driving privileges.
The ALS guidelines are as follows.
|1st refusal of chemical test||One-year suspension||30 day waiting period|
|2nd refusal of chemical test||Two years suspension||90 day waiting period|
|3rd refusal of chemical test||Three years suspension||One year waiting period|
|4th or more refusal of chemical test||Five years suspension||Three year waiting period|
The BMV also determines the length of the suspension and waiting period depending on what class of license you carry (for example, a “regular” driver license versus a commercial license). An attorney with Joslyn Law Firm can help you understand these penalties and what we can do to restore your driving privileges.
“Annie’s Law” Could Apply in Your Case if You Are a First-Time Offender
If you consent to a chemical test and the results determine that you are legally impaired under Ohio law, you could lose your driving rights for up to three years. However, a recent legal modification may help you keep your license even if you are arrested for an OVI and fail a chemical test.
A 2017 law passed by the Ohio Legislature, HB 388, modifies the driving penalties for certain people arrested for OVI.
Known as “Annie’s Law,” this ruling:
- Allows first-time offenders the opportunity to retain their driving privileges by installing an ignition lock connected to a breath test.
- Offenders must pay for this locking device to prevent the ignition from engaging if your breath test meets or exceeds legal limits.
- Extends the “look back” period for previous drunk driving violations from six years to ten years.
- Requires offenders to purchase a special license plate that is easily identifiable to law enforcement.
This law is named in memory of Annie Rooney who a drunk driver killed in 2013.
Driver’s License Penalties if You Fail a Chemical Test
If police arrest you on suspicion of OVI, and you test positive for drugs or alcohol in your system above the legal limit, they will automatically suspend your license.
The time for a suspended license depends on how many chemical tests you failed within the past decade:
|1st failed chemical test||90-day suspension||15-day waiting period|
|2nd failed chemical test||One-year suspension||45-day waiting period|
|3rd failed chemical test||Two-year suspension||180-day waiting period|
|4th or more failed test||Three-year suspension||Three year waiting period|
Criminal Penalties for OVI in Ohio
The more times you have been convicted or pleaded guilty for an OVI within the past ten years, the more severe penalties you are likely to face. If you are a second or greater OVI offender who refused to take a chemical test, the lookback period increases to 20 years.
Similarly, if you are a first-time OVI offender, an OVI defense lawyer from our team may be able to reduce your charges and negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecuting attorney. There may be other considerations that are favorable for your case.
Low-Tier vs. High-Tier Penalties
You are legally intoxicated if your BAC is .08 percent or higher. The higher your BAC, the more likely your offense will be judged to harsher standards.
- A BAC of 0.08 up to 0.16 is considered “low-tier,” meaning that your chemical test falls within the lower limits of what is legally considered drunk driving.
- Low-tier penalties can be less severe for a jail or prison sentence, fine, or license suspension.
- If your BAC is equal to or greater than 0.17, the court considers you for “high-tier” penalties.
- You also face high-tier penalties if you refuse to take a chemical test. High-tier penalties can reach the maximum for incarceration, fines, and loss of driving privileges.
The Ohio Impaired Driving Law sentencing structure:
First-time OVI Charge or no OVI Charges in the Past Decade
|Low Tier 0.08 to 0.16 BAC||High Tier 0.17+ BAC OR Refused Test|
|First-degree misdemeanor||First-degree misdemeanor|
|Incarceration range: 3 days – 6 months in jail or 3 days with Drivers Intervention Program (DIP)||Incarceration range: 6 days – 6 months in jail or 3 days in jail and 3 days Drivers Intervention Program (DIP)|
|Fine range: $375 – $1,075||Fine range: $375 – $1,075|
|Optional alcohol or substance abuse assessment and/or treatment||Optional alcohol or substance abuse assessment and/or treatment|
|Six points assessed to driver’s record||Six points assessed to driver’s record|
|Restricted license plate at court’s discretion||Restricted license plate at court’s discretion|
|License suspension range: 1 – 3 years|
May request limited driving privileges after 15 days or 30 days if you refused a test
|License suspension range: 1 – 3 years|
May request limited driving privileges after 15 days or 30 days if you refused a test
|License reinstatement fee $475||License reinstatement fee $475|
|Ignition interlock at court’s discretion||Ignition interlock at court’s discretion|
|DIP and/or ignition interlock may reduce incarceration and/or suspension||DIP and/or ignition interlock may reduce incarceration and/or suspension|
|Up to five years of probation||Up to five years of probation|
|Second OVI Charge Within 10 Years|
Third OVI Charge Within 10 Years
Three Strikes and OVI Penalties Become Felonies
If you are charged with three or more OVIs in ten years, you are automatically sentenced with a felony OVI.
Felony charges have:
- Longer jail or prison sentences
- Steeper fines
- Longer or permanent license suspensions
- Longer or permanent vehicle forfeiture if registered to the defendant
You should know that felony charges become even harsher if your case involves a minor or causes loss of life.
Range of Felony Charges for OVI in Ohio
|Incarceration in jail and/or prison ranging from 60 days to five years||Fines ranging from $1,350 to $10,500||License suspension from three years to life|
|Waiting period to request driving privileges is three years||Forfeiture of vehicle if registered to the offender||Mandatory alcohol and drug treatment program|
|Loss of voting rights while incarcerated||Mandatory restricted license plate||Ignition interlock at court’s discretion|
A Felony Charge Follows You Throughout Your Life
According to the Federal Public Defender of Northern Ohio, a convicted felon suffers collateral damage even after they are no longer incarcerated.
A convicted felon in Ohio loses many valuable rights and privileges that may greatly restrict educational, professional, financial, and residential opportunities, such as:
- Cannot serve on a jury
- Does not have Second Amendment rights (to own or bear arms)
- May lose some public assistance, including those for food, cash, rent, housing, or student loans
- May lose right to a commercial driver’s license or right for any type of motor vehicle license
- May be a liability in certain professions and occupations
Being charged with a felony is a drain on your loved ones as well. If you cannot receive food or rent assistance, your family may become food insecure, homeless, or both.
Evidence in OVI Cases
Prosecutors do not have to gather additional evidence to prove that your driving was impaired if the level of alcohol or drugs in your system meets or exceeds the legal limit. This is called “per se OVI.”
The prosecution may use other types of evidence against you in an OVI charge, such as:
- Field sobriety test results: Officers may ask you to walk in a straight line, stand on one leg, or follow an object with your eyes while keeping your head still.
- Observations by police officers: Officers look for signs of impairment such as glassy eyes, slurred speech, and a strong smell of alcohol or drugs on your clothing, hair, or skin.
- Roadside questioning: Officers take note of your answers to simple questions as the rules of the road, your intended location, and if you can accurately produce your license and registration upon request.
- Witness accounts: Other drivers who may have noticed if you had unusual or erratic driving behaviors (such as weaving on and off the road or crossing over the centerline) might give testimony against you.
- Physical evidence: There may be physical evidence, such as an open bottle of alcohol in your vehicle, empty bottles of alcohol, or drug paraphernalia.
Defending Against an OVI Charge
An OVI defense attorney with Joslyn Law Firm will refute and counter the evidence the prosecution presents. This may help you have the charges against you reduced or even dropped.
Some of the ways our legal team fights to defend you in an OVI case include:
- Lack of probable cause
- Improper or illegal search of your vehicle or person
- Improperly administered field sobriety tests
- Wrongly administered breath tests
- Faulty breath test calibration
- Failure to tell you of your rights (Miranda rights)
- Administering a chemical test without your express consent
- Witnesses with observations to the contrary of prosecution witnesses
- Plausible explanation for appearance or behavior
An OVI defense lawyer in Ohio from our firm will refute the evidence against you and challenge the prosecution. For example, a breath test could indicate intoxication when due to high blood sugar or another medical condition.
We Investigate and Secure Evidence to Help Your Case
We respect that our Ohio law enforcement officers and prosecutors work diligently for public safety. However, anyone can make a mistake, and a police officer is no exception.
Our legal team raises reasonable doubt to the prosecution’s case with a careful investigation of our own. Joslyn Law Firm has the knowledge and resources to:
- Secure expert testimony about the integrity and accuracy of testing procedures, quality, and results.
- Obtain evidence that police officers failed to follow the law throughout your arrest.
- Determine if you are the victim of false identity, racial injustice, or other unfair practices.
- Establish differing chemical test results if you requested a second chemical test within the appropriate time after arrest.
Legal Victories in OVI Cases
We have resolved over 20,000 cases for clients who made a mistake and need help. We want to help you, too.
One of our victories followed the case of a man with a prior OVI conviction. He drove into a neighbor’s yard, notified his insurance company, and left the scene. He didn’t call the police because he didn’t think the damage warranted it. However, the cops came to question him and charged him with OVI and hit and skip. We helped the defendant plea to a lesser offense in which he only had to pay a fine.
Had he not called our team and sustained another OVI charge, he wouldn’t have been promoted at work.
Ohio OVI Resources for You and Your Loved Ones
An OVI arrest can impact you and your loved ones. Our legal team is here to help you with a customized defense strategy.
We know that this is a difficult time for you and have compiled these resources for you to find information and assistance:
- Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV): Learn about the types of license suspensions, your obligations for automobile insurance, and how to apply for amnesty for OVI loss of driving privileges.
- Ohio Department of Health Benefits: Find out how you and your family apply and receive assistance, including unemployment benefits, Medicaid, food assistance, and more.
- Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHA): Get help with alcoholism, drug abuse, and other mental health issues through counseling, residential treatment centers, and out-patient care.
- Alcoholics Anonymous: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a nonprofessional, self-supporting 12-step program that focuses on recovery for people who believe that they have a drinking problem.
- Narcotics Anonymous: Narcotics Anonymous (NA) has a meeting search for Columbus, OH.
Recent News Stories About OVI in Ohio
A 2015 OVI case involving a Courtland woman who was arrested by police in another town went to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Ohio State Highway Patrol arrested a Findley man on DUI charges, making it his seventh drunk driving arrest.
An OVI Task Force checkpoint resulted in one arrest in Butler County.
FAQ About OVI Cases
Q. Can an OVI conviction be expunged from my record?
- It is possible for an OVI conviction to be expunged from your record with the passage of SB 66 in 2018. An attorney with Joslyn Law Firm can help you or a loved one who is seeking expungement.
Q. Who pays for the ignition interlock device if ordered by the court?
- The defendant is responsible for paying for the device and for having it installed.
Q. When should I hire an OVI defense attorney?
- We recommend hiring an attorney as soon as you are charged. It is your right to have a lawyer present when police question you.
Q. Is it possible for my OVI charge to be reduced so that I do not have to go to jail?
- An OVI defense lawyer from our team may be able to negotiate a plea bargain so that you do not serve any time in jail.
Q. Are OVI cases ever dismissed?
- It is possible for an OVI case to be dismissed on several grounds, such as inadmissible evidence.
We Fight Back Against OVI Penalties in Ohio
Sometimes an innocent person becomes entangled in our criminal justice system. If you or a loved one was arrested for OVI, the penalties can be life-changing. Get a free consultation from Joslyn Law Firm. Call (614) 444-1900 for help with your OVI case.