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What Are the Consequences of a DUI in Ohio?

December 14, 2020

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Drunk driving is consistently among the top causes of fatal and injury-causing vehicle crashes in both Ohio alone and throughout the entire U.S. When people get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, they’re far less capable of driving safely than sober drivers, and that puts them, their passengers, and other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians at risk. Because of the dangers posed by drunk driving, all 50 states have strict penalties for driving under the influence. Anyone caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher can be charged with DUI—or “operating a vehicle under the influence” (OVI) in Ohio—but the actual punishments imposed vary from state to state. Furthermore, drivers convicted of OVI are more likely to be ordered to pay higher settlements in civil court if they injure others in an accident.

Ohio’s OVI Punishments Are Among the Most Severe in the U.S.

As with other states, Ohio’s punishments for OVI charges depend on whether it was a first-time offense or a repeat offense. The judge also has some leeway to impose a lighter or harsher sentence within the terms laid out by law. First-time offenders face:
  • Three days to six months in jail
  • $375 to $1,075 in fines
  • License suspensions of one to three years
Second-time offenders face:
  • 10 days to six months in jail
  • $525 to $1,625 in fines
  • License suspensions of one to seven years
Third-time offenders face:
  • 30 days to one year in jail
  • $850 to $2,750 in fines
  • License suspensions of two to 12 years

Some Offenders Are Issued New License Plates and Interlock Devices

Ohio is just one of a few states that sometimes requires drivers to swap out their traditional license plates for plain yellow license plates that indicate restricted driving privileges. Known informally as “party plates,” these license plates signal to other drivers that the owner of the vehicle was convicted of OVI. Although these plates aren’t always required for offenders, judges sometimes enforce them as an additional form of punishment and a visible reminder of potential consequences to deter other drivers from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Another potential punishment for OVI is an ignition interlock device. This device analyzes the BAC of drivers when they attempt to start their vehicles. If it detects alcohol on their breath, their vehicles won’t start. Drivers may willingly choose to have these devices installed in their vehicles to lessen their overall punishments, or they may be ordered to have them installed by a judge.

Aggravated OVI Charges Are Stricter

Offenders with extremely high BACs of at least 0.17%--more than double the legal limit—face even harsher penalties. Drivers who have BACs at least that high are charged with aggravated OVI, and they face a minimum of three days in jail and must complete three days of a driver’s intervention program. Second-time offenders face at least 20 days in jail or 10 days in jail with 36 days of subsequent house arrest and alcohol monitoring. Third-time offenders face 60 days in jail or 30 days in jail with 110 days of house arrest and alcohol monitoring.

Loss of Driving Privileges Is a Real Possibility After an OVI Conviction

For many people, having a valid driver license is essential for getting to and from work, running errands, picking up kids from school, and more. But an OVI charge can throw that out the window. People convicted of OVI can apply for a limited license, but they may still have to abide by a minimum, mandatory license suspension even if their application is granted:
  • 15 day minimum for a first OVI offense
  • 45 day minimum for a second OVI offense
  • 180 day minimum for a third OVI offense
Those minimum waiting periods can make it difficult for people convicted of OVI to keep up with their daily needs, including maintaining employment.

Underage Drivers Face Tougher Limits for OVI Charges

As in all states, Ohio requires that people be 21 years old or up to drink or possess alcohol. That means there’s nearly a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol consumption and driving among people under 21. Drivers who aren’t legally allowed to drink can be charged with underage OVI with BACs of at least 0.02%. For some drivers, that’s the equivalent of just a few sips of alcohol.

We Hold Buzzed and Drunk Drivers Accountable when They Hurt Others

All 50 states have harsh punishments for DUI/OVI offenders. And the legal punishments offenders face are often only the tip of the iceberg. They also pay out of pocket for things like impound fees, lawyer fees, administrative fees, and lost income. In addition, they may suffer socially and professionally, as future employers may be privy to information about their OVIs, not to mention the risk of losing certain licenses. However, these are nothing compared to the physical pain and emotional distress auto accident victims often face when they are injured or a loved one is killed at the hands of a drunk driver. Furthermore, those punishments typically don’t do anything for the victims of a drunk driver after a crash. That’s where we come in. At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our Ohio auto accident lawyers work hard to get innocent victims full compensation after crashes that weren’t their fault, including drunk driving accident victims. If you or someone you love was hurt in a crash caused by an intoxicated driver, we want to speak with you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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