Ohio DUI Laws

DUI Laws in Ohio

Under Ohio law, an individual may be prosecuted for having a certain level of alcohol in his or her body. A prosecutor may bring an individual to court under these terms, called per se laws. While in court the prosecuting attorney will provide the blood alcohol content report as evidence. If the court finds the report to be in order the individual will be convicted of driving under the influence.

Ohio Legal Limit Alcohol

In the state of Ohio, an individual can be legally arrested for driving with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit. The United States sets a federal maximum blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent. If an individual is found to have a blood alcohol content over this limit, he or she will be arrested and charges will follow.

An individual can also be charged with impairment. Impairment and per se charges are different with different punishments. Because impairment charges are more severe, they are often more difficult to convict. When prosecuting under impairment charges, an attorney will provide evidence to show that the individual was impaired while driving. Evidence can include driving patterns, physical appearance, field sobriety tests, blood alcohol content levels, urine tests, and breath tests.

However simply because an individual had a blood alcohol content over the legal limit does not mean that he or she was impaired, so charges may be dismissed. On the other hand, an individual may be charged with impairment even if his or her blood alcohol content was below the legal limit.

Driving under the influence cases are normally tried by a jury of six but can also be tried by a judge if an individual chooses as such.

What are the Differences Between DUI, DWI, & OVI in Ohio

Most states refer to the crime of driving while intoxicated as either DUI or DWI. Ohio officially refers to drunk driving as “operating a vehicle under the influence,” or OVI (Ohio Revised Code section 4511.19).

You may hear several terms and acronyms other than Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI), including:

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Driving While Impaired (DWI)
  • Driving with an unlawful BAC level (DUBAL)
  • Operating a Motor Vehicle Impaired (OMVI)

If an impaired driver is under 21, they will typically be charged with “Operating a Vehicle After Underage Consumption,” or OVUAC. Regardless of which term is used, a conviction for OUI or OVUAC is a serious matter which can carry heavy consequences. If you have been charged with any type of drunk driving offense, it is crucial you retain powerful legal representation to protect your rights and driving privileges.

What Are The Penalties For Your First OVI/DUI In Ohio?

A first-offense OVI conviction in Ohio can carry penalties anywhere from:

  • 3 days to 6 months in jail,
  • $250 to $1,000 in fines,
  • and a driver’s license suspension from 6 months to 3 years.

Generally speaking, first-time OVI offenses are punished less harshly than repeat offenses and tend to be dealt with in a more rehabilitative than punitive manner. With that being said, harsher penalties may be imposed in instances where a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) measures above 0.17%. In these cases, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle which prevents you from driving if it detects any alcohol in your breath.

What Are The Penalties For Multiple OVI/DUI In Ohio?

If you are convicted of a second DUI/OVI within six years,

  • the minimum mandatory jail sentence is ten consecutive days, while the maximum jail sentence is six months.
  • License suspension ranges from a minimum of one year to a maximum of five years, with no driving privileges for 45 days.
  • You’ll be fined between $525 and $1,625.

If you are convicted of a third DUI/OVI within six years,

  • the minimum jail sentence is 30 consecutive days, and the maximum jail sentence is one year.
  • License suspension ranges from a minimum of two years to a maximum of ten years, with no driving privileges for 180 days.
  • You’ll be fined between $850 and $2,750.

What are Field Sobriety Tests?

There are a number of field performance tests that law enforcement may administer. It is important that you do not take any of these tests. They are not really looking to determine if you are under the influence of alcohol, they are looking for evidence to use against you. If they believe the field tests support their conclusion that you are under the influence, they may arrest you.

The field tests you should not take include:

  • Horizontal gaze (Pen Test)
  • Walking in a straight line and turning (Walk and Turn)
  • One leg stand
  • Portable breath test

Should I Take a Field Performance Test?

You do not have to take these tests and, depending on the circumstances, there may be no consequence for your failure to do so. Though you may be considered uncooperative and arrested, they will likely arrest you anyway. It is your right to tell law enforcement officials that you would like to speak with an Ohio DUI lawyer or that your attorney has advised against doing these tests.

Can You Refuse To Take A Breathalyzer In Ohio?

There may be times when you will have no choice as to whether or not to submit to tests. If you are unconscious, if you are transported for medical treatment, if the police obtain a search warrant, or if you refuse to cooperate, you could be facing an automatic felony.

Ohio law requires you to take a breath, blood, or urine test if you are arrested for a DUI. If you refuse to take a test, you could lose your right to drive and face a short suspension followed by possible limited occupational privileges. You will need to consider how much alcohol you consumed before submitting to taking the test.

Ohio’s Implied Consent Law

According to Ohio law, if you are lawfully arrested and the law enforcement official has probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence, you automatically consent to take a chemical test to determine your BAC level.

What Are The Penalties For Refusing A Breathalyzer Test?

Refusal to take the test will result in the following penalties:

  • First offense – One year of license suspension
  • Second offense within six years – Two years of license suspension
  • Third offense within six years – Three years of license suspension

Prior to this, you are allowed to refuse a breath test without a license suspension or other penalties. The preliminary breath test is to support probable cause for a DUI arrest.

Operating Under the Influence

An individual can also be charged with operating under the influence. Under these circumstances, an individual does not necessarily need to be in motion to be operating the motor vehicle. Ohio law states that if an individual is in the driver’s seat and the keys are close enough to operate the motor vehicle, he or she can be prosecuted on these charges. Under operating under the influence offenses as long as an individual has control of the motor vehicle in any fashion, such charges can apply.

Kinds of Motor Vehicles

In Ohio, the term motor vehicle does not necessarily mean only cars. Motor vehicle also includes bicycles, motorcycles, and other mobile devices requiring something other than human energy to operate. These devices can also include tractors, gold carts, mounted bicycles, and riding lawnmowers.

DUI Punishments

Punishments for driving under the influence in Ohio are based on prior offenses and aggravated circumstances. Punishments often include probation, fines, jail time, driver’s license suspension, community service, and alcohol education courses. The number of prior driving under the influence offenses dictates the severity of a current offense.

The charges will increase exponentially. If a minor was in the motor vehicle upon arrest, if the individual was speeding, if the individual had a blood alcohol content double the legal limit, if another individual was injured, or if another individual was killed then charges will increase severely, despite the number of prior offenses.

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