In Ohio, driving under the influence is normally referred to as “operating under the influence”(OVI). You can be convicted in criminal court of OVI if you operate a vehicle:
A person is considered “under the influence” if his or her ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or drugs. If you fail a breath, blood or urine test, you will likely be charged with both per se OVI and impaired OVI.
Typically, an OVI is considered a “second offense” if you were convicted or plead guilty to a prior OVI in the past ten years. Chemical test refusals also count as prior convictions (see below). The ten-year period generally runs from the date of your first conviction to the date of your most recent OVI or refusal charge.
If you’re lawfully arrested for a second-offense OVI and chemical testing shows your BAC or urine alcohol concentrations exceed the legal limits—or if you refuse testing—the arresting officer will immediately confiscate your license, and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will administratively suspend your license. You’ll have 30 days from the date of your arraignment to challenge the BMV suspension. Your vehicle will also be impounded, rendered immobile for 90 days, and may ultimately be permanently seized.
Over the legal limit. If your blood test shows a BAC of .08% or more or your urine test shows an alcohol concentration of .110 or more, the BMV will suspend your license for one to three years. However, after a 45-day “hard suspension,” you may be eligible for a restricted license.
Refusals. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test in violation of Ohio’s “implied consent” law, the BMV will automatically suspend your license for two years—even if you aren’t later convicted of OVI in criminal court. You may still be eligible for a restricted license, but your hard suspension will be 90 days. You’ll also likely face enhanced criminal penalties for refusing testing (see below).
Restricted license. After completing your hard suspension, you can apply to the court for a restricted license. The court can grant limited driving privileges with requirements for restricted hours, special offender license plates, or any other conditions the judge deems appropriate. The judge can also grant unlimited driving privileges if you agree to install an ignition interlock device (IID).
License reinstatement. For a full license reinstatement, you must complete any court-imposed suspension, pay a restatement fee, and provide the BMV with proof of auto insurance.
Penalties for a second OVI conviction in Ohio vary by degree of intoxication. For a “low level OVI” (BAC over .08% but less than .17%) you’ll face ten to 180 days in jail or five days of jail and 18 days of house arrest with electronic monitoring. A “high level OVI” (BAC of .17% or higher or refusal of a chemical test with a prior OVI within 20 years) carries 20 days jail time or 10 days of jail and 36 days of house arrest with electronic monitoring
For both offense levels, you’ll be looking at a fine from $525.00 to $1,625.00, a mandatory alcohol/drug assessment, and substance abuse treatment. Chances are the judge will also require an interlock device and order a 90-day immobilization of your vehicle. The judge may additionally seize your vehicle and suspend your license for one to seven years, with a $475.00 license reinstatement fee.
If you have pled guilty or been convicted of OVI within the last 20 years, a test refusal on the current offense carries enhanced criminal penalties. In such a case, the judge can impose an additional 20 days in jail or 10 days of jail followed by 36 days of house arrest with electronic monitoring.
Ohio’s DUI laws are complicated, and the facts of each case are different. If you’ve been arrested or charged for OVI, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area who can help you decide how best to proceed with your case.