Ohio officially uses the term "operating under the influence" (OVI) instead of "driving under the influence." You can be convicted in criminal court of OVI if you operate a vehicle:
You're considered "under the influence" if your ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or drugs. In many cases, the driver is charged with both per se OVI and impaired OVI.
Typically, an OVI is considered a "third offense" if you were convicted or plead guilty to two prior OVIs, chemical testing refusals, or any combination in the past ten years. Generally, the ten-year period is calculated from the date of your first conviction to the date of your most recent OVI or refusal charge.
The process. If you're lawfully arrested for a third-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 take your license. You'll also be facing an administrative license suspension from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). You have 30 days from your arraignment to challenge the suspension.
Over the legal limit. Drivers who test with a BAC of .08% or more or a urine alcohol concentration of .110 or more face a one- to three-year license suspension. After a 15-day "hard suspension," the driver may be eligible for a restricted license (see specifics below).
Test refusals. Drivers who refuse to take a chemical test in violation of Ohio's "implied consent" law face an automatic three-year suspension. These drivers may still be eligible for a restricted license, but the hard suspension period will be a full year.
Restricted license. Once you complete the hard suspension period, you can apply to the court for a restricted license. The judge can grant limited driving privileges with requirements that might include restricted hours, special offender license plates, and any other conditions the judge believes are warranted. The judge can also grant unlimited driving privileges if you agree to install an ignition interlock device (IID). The requirements for full license reinstatement depend on your BAC and other factors specific to your case. But, generally, you must complete any court-imposed suspension, pay a restatement fee, and provide the BMV with proof of auto insurance.
Penalties for a third OVI conviction in Ohio vary by degree of intoxication:
With both offense levels, you'll have to pay a fine of $850 to $2,750 and complete an alcohol/drug assessment and substance abuse treatment. The judge can also order an interlock device, "offender" license plates, vehicle forfeiture, and a two to 12-year license suspension (with a $475 license reinstatement fee).
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.