Third Offense OVI/DUI in Ohio

In Ohio, the term "OVI" ("Operating a Vehicle Intoxicated") is used to describe DUI offenses, which include both drugs and alcohol. (DUI and OVI are used interchangeably.) While .08 BAC is the legal limit pertaining to alcohol, it is illegal to drive with any amount of a controlled substances (drugs) present in the driver's blood.

Administrative Penalties

If you are convicted of a third DUI/OVI with a BAC over .08, you will receive an Administrative License Suspension (ALS) for two years--unless your most recent DUI/OVI conviction is within six years, then the ALS is three years. If your third conviction includes a refusal to submit to a sobriety test, you will automatically receive a three year ALS.

The Lookback 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.

Felony vs. Misdemeanor

If your two previous DUI/OVI conviction occurred within six years immediately preceding the most recent charge, you will be charged with a felony. Barring other extenuating circumstances defined in the Ohio Code, you will be charged with a misdemeanor.

Criminal Penalties

You will receive 30 days to one year in jail, and if your BAC was .17 or more, you will receive a jail term of at least 60 days. In some cases, you may be able to obtain an alternative sentence of 15 days in jail followed by electronic monitoring. You will also be ordered to pay a fine between $500 and $2,500, and you must enter an alcohol or drug treatment program at your own expense. In addition to the ALS, the court will order your license to be suspended for two to 10 years.

Plea Options

When charged with a third DUI/OVI, you have three options. You can plead guilty, and let the judge decide your sentence. You can fight the charge. Or, you can attempt to plea bargain with the prosecutor. This means that you would offer to plead guilty in exchange for a known lesser sentence, instead of simply letting the judge decide your sentence.

Five Offenses – The Habitual Offender Registry

Ohio’s Habitual Offender Registry is an online database of people who have been convicted at least five times of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and meet certain other criteria established by law. A state law adopted in September 2008 established the Registry, and defined who should be included: Anyone with five or more convictions during the past 20 years (at least one of the convictions must be since the law took effect on September 30, 2008). The Registry does not include convictions more than 20 years old, deceased people, or out-of-state convictions. Juvenile offenses are included. If a single incident results in multiple impaired driving-related convictions, it is counted as one conviction for purposes of this Registry.

Getting Legal Help

In order to understand your plea options and the laws surrounding a third DUI in Ohio, it is best to obtain legal assistance from an attorney who specializes in these situations.


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