Ohio: Underage DUI/OVI

The drinking age in Ohio is 21 and consumption of alcohol by anyone under 21 is illegal with the following exceptions:

  • on private, non alcohol-selling premises, with consent of a legal guardian  -- for example, with legal guardian’s permission at a party, or
  • for religious purposes – for example, drinking wine with religious ceremony, or
  • for medical purposes – for example, a physician administering a medical treatment, or
  • with consent of a legal guardian on alcohol-selling premises – for example, at a restaurant or catered affair.

Although drivers under 21 account for less than 10% of licensed drivers, they account for 13% of DUI related fatalities in Ohio, according to one survey.  Because underage drinkers cause a disproportionate number of alcohol-related auto fatalities, the standards are stricter and the penalties may be harsher for those under 21.

More information about Ohio’s teen driving requirements.

What constitutes driving under the influence?

If a chemical test determines that a driver under 21 has a blood alcohol content BAC of .02% or higher, the driver can be cited for driving under the influence. (For those 21 or older, the BAC is .08%)

What are the penalties?

There are some differences between an underage offense (referred to as a UDD (Underage Drinking and Driving) and an OVI (Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence). The UDD is triggered by a BAC of between .02 and .08% and results in a maximum jail time of 30 days and a maximum fine of $250.00. An underage consumption charge also carries only 4 points on a driver’s record where a regular OVI conviction carries 6 points. A BAC of .08% or above is treated as follows:


First OVI/DUI 

Second OVI/DUI

Jail

10 days to 1 year

Up to 1 year

Fine

$500 to $1,000

$350 up to $1,500

License Suspension

6 months to 3 years

1 to 5 years

What if you refuse the chemical test? Read about Ohio implied consent laws. 

What other charges?

In addition to driving under the influence, an underage drinker may be charged with any of the following:

  • distributing alcohol to other minors (were there underage drunk passengers?),
  • minor in possession,
  • soliciting alcohol,
  • child endangerment law violations,
  • possession of false identification (was a fake id used to purchase alcohol?), and
  • moving and vehicle maintenance violations (what else did the arresting officer see?).

What happens to insurance?

Some insurance companies may terminate a policy after an underage DUI (while others refuse to renew). Most companies simply raise the cost of the monthly premium by $100 to $200 (sometimes higher) for a higher risk policy. The raise usually stays in place for three to five years. You’ll also probably need to furnish the DMV with an SR-22 certificate to reinstate a license after suspension (as proof of insurability). Most insurance companies furnish this form to the DMV. Check with your insurer to see if it performs this service.

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