Ohio’s Underage DUI/OVI Laws and Penalties

The consequences for drivers under 21 years old who have consumed alcohol.

Ohio has multiple impaired driving laws that apply to all drivers. An Ohio driver can be convicted of an OVI (operating a vehicle while impaired) for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .08%, with a certain concentration of drugs in his or her system, or while actually impaired by drugs or alcohol.

However, Ohio has a separate offense for drivers younger than 21 years old. These drivers can be convicted of an impaired driving offense for getting behind the wheel with a BAC of at least .02% but less than .08%. The offense is called an "underage OVI" or "OVUAC" (operating a vehicle after underage alcohol consumption).

Underage OVI Penalties in Ohio

An underage DUI is a misdemeanor and can result in fines and jail. But there are stark differences between the penalties for a first conviction and those for a second or subsequent offense.

First Underage OVI

A first underage OVI is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. A conviction usually results in up to $250 in fines and a maximum of 30 days in jail. The driver's license will also be suspended for three months to two years. However, because it is a first offense, the court can issue the driver unlimited driving privileges during the suspension period. To be eligible for driver privileges the underage driver must use an ignition interlock device (IID) and might be subject to other requirements like alcohol treatment. For drivers who agree to the IID requirement, the court can suspend any jail sentence and reduce the overall license suspension period.

Second or Subsequent Offenses

A second or subsequent violation within one year of a prior underage OVI is a third-degree misdemeanor. A conviction carries up to 60 days in jail, a maximum $500 fine, and a license suspension of one to five years. Unlike with a first offense, the driver is not eligible for unlimited driving privileges and the court is not required to suspend the jail term. The driver can apply for a limited license but only after completing 60 days of the suspension.

OVI Offenders Under 18 Years Old

Offenders who are under the age of 18 years and hold a probationary or instruction permit can—in addition to the other penalties—be required to retake the licensing exams. The judge can also order the minor driver's limited license to allow operation only when supervised by a parent or guardian.

Talk to an Attorney

If you were stopped for any of the Ohio intoxicated driving offenses, get in touch with an experienced DUI lawyer who can help protect your interests. There's no substitute for the advice of a knowledgeable attorney.

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