Second Offense OVI/DUI in Ohio

The consequences—including jail and fines—of a second OVI conviction in Ohio.

With nearly 400 DUI/OVI related fatalities per year, Ohio has implemented strict rules governing second offenses. (The state also refers to DUI's by the term “operating a vehicle under the influence,” which is shortened to OVI in its statutes. The two terms are interchangeable.) If a driver refuses a blood test (and this is second refusal, or second offense), there is an automatic license suspension of two years. A second DUI charge is punishable by a maximum of six months in prison (a misdemeanor). Potential penalties for a second DUI in Ohio are governed by section 4511.19 of the state’s Revised Code.

Look Back Period

A look back (or "washout") period is the length of time that a prior DUI conviction or plea of guilty will be factored into an offender’s punishment. In Ohio, this period is six years. This means that any prior conviction or plea of guilty to a DUI occurring within six years of the current DUI conviction will be considered a first DUI offense. The court will then view the case pending before it as a second DUI and impose the statutorily increased penalties.

Administrative Penalties

Ohio statutes allow the department to revoke the offender’s license and immobilize his vehicle for 90 days. The period of suspension is at a court's discretion. The suspension will continue even during an appeal of the ruling. To reinstate the license, a fee must be paid and the driver must show proof of insurance.

Criminal Penalties

The court can sentence a second time DUI offender to no fewer than 10 days and no longer than six months in jail or a combination of jail, house arrest with monitoring, and continuous alcohol monitoring. The court can also order the offender to attend and complete an alcohol treatment program. An offender might also be ordered to pay a minimum of a $525 and maximum of $1,625 fine.

Plea Options

In Ohio, an offender can plead guilty and accept the court’s punishment, not guilty and proceed to trial, or enter into a plea bargain with the state’s prosecutor. In a trial, a jury imposes penalties on the offender after finding him guilty. A plea bargain is a document of negotiated terms which the prosecutor and offender accept. Usually, these agreements have the same administrative but lesser criminal penalties.

Getting Legal Help

If you are facing a second DUI charge in Ohio, seek legal advice. An attorney will advise you about the state’s laws and discuss with you which penalties you could face.


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