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  • DUI & DWI in Ohio

    Driving While Impaired

    It's true―people process alcohol differently. What causes one person to feel tipsy may have little effect on someone else. What causes one person to register a higher-than-allowed blood alcohol content (BAC) may leave another within the legal limit.

    In general, men can drink more than women without being legally drunk. In general, heavier people can drink more than those who are lighter.

    But, what most people don't realize is that by the time you actually feel drunk, you are likely way beyond the legal BAC limit. And what most people don't realize is that your driving skills begin to be impaired after your first drink.

    Procedures & Penalties

    The BAC is simply the measure of the amount of alcohol in your blood. It can be determined directly through blood testing or indirectly through breath, urine, or saliva testing.

    The legal drinking age in Ohio is 21 years old. If you are under this age and found driving with a BAC of at least .02% but less than .08%, you will be guilty of Operating a Vehicle After Underage Consumption (OVAUC).

    Your penalties will include having your license suspended from 90 days to 2 years, and having to take a remedial driving class. You'll also have to complete your license examination again. Plus, 4 points will be added to your license. And, you'll have to pay a license reinstatement fee.

    For every adult in Ohio, a BAC of .08% or more means you are considered to be legally drunk, and not allowed to drive.

    In Ohio, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) are grouped under the umbrella heading of Operating a Vehicle under the Influence (OVI).

    If you are stopped by a police officer and suspected of OVI, you will be asked to take a BAC or chemical test, sometimes referred to as a sobriety test.

    If you fail the test by having an unacceptable reading, an Administrative License Suspension (ALS) will automatically begin. This means that you will lose your right to drive from anywhere from 90 days to 5 years, depending on your driving history. Your license will be confiscated from you on the spot. All of this is separate from any other form of punishment you'll face in court, including extra suspension time.

    If you refuse to take the BAC test, your license will automatically be suspended from 1 to 5 years.

    You may contest any of the above and request a court hearing, which will be held within five days of the arrest. But, you'll have to prove at least one of the following:

    • The officer did not have reasonable grounds of suspecting OVI.
    • The officer did not request that you take the blood alcohol test.
    • The officer did not tell you the consequences of refusing or failing the test.
    • You did not refuse or fail the test.

    Even if you prove any of these, the court may still suspend your license if it is deemed that you are a threat to public safety.

    If you are found guilty of an OVI offense, your license will be suspended and you can even face jail time. Your license reinstatement fee is based on your date of conviction and the number of convictions you've incurred. A 1st offense committed anytime after 2008 can cost as much as $475.

    You'll also receive 6 points on your license. And, quite likely, your insurance premiums will increase dramatically, and you might also be dropped by your carrier.

    If you are convicted of 2 OVI offenses within 6 years, your vehicle may be immobilized. If it happens again, you may forfeit your vehicle.

    Also, if you are caught driving while under any sort of suspension, you will face additional penalties.

    Even if you have never been convicted of an OVI offense, do not let anyone who you know is under suspension use your vehicle. If you do, you could face suspension as well.

    Habitual Offender Registry

    As soon as you total 5 convictions or more for OVI (or equivalent) within 20 years, you'll be listed on the Habitual OVI Registry.

    Being on this list allows the public to see your name, date of birth, home address, and your OVI convictions. Your information remains on this list until you no longer have 5 convictions for OVI within the past 20 years.

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