Penalties in Ohio for Operating a Vehicle While under the Influence

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Owner of a solo practice in Dayton, Ohio, Kyle T. Kirts serves clients facing criminal and civil charges. Kyle Kirts has represented many clients in traffic court since opening his practice in late 2009.

In the state of Ohio, intoxicated drivers 21 years of age or older may receive a conviction of operating a vehicle impaired (OVI). The conviction applies to any driver of a motor vehicle whose blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or higher. However, drivers of commercial vehicles must only reach a level of 0.04 percent to receive a charge.

If convicted, a driver would receive a license suspension of 90 days for a first offense. Offenders also are subject to criminal charges that include monetary fines and mandatory imprisonment, though courts may instead order a first offender to complete a driver intervention program. Criminal charges may also increase an offender’s length of license suspension, which may include restricted operating privileges.

Penalties increase in severity with each subsequent offense. Second offenses incur higher fines and longer suspensions, as well as extended prison sentences and the potential for house arrest. Courts may also require these offenders to surrender their vehicles for 90-day impounding and to undergo mandatory drug and alcohol testing. Third offenses lead to mandatory drug and alcohol treatment as well as increasingly severe penalties.

Sentences also become higher for any offenders with blood alcohol levels over 0.17 percent. Similarly, those who refuse blood alcohol testing may be subject to lengthier license suspensions. An offender can appeal a refusal-based or failure-based suspension, though he or she must prove the charges invalid according to state law.