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What are the penalties for drunk driving in Ohio?

With March Madness right around the corner, basketball fans will soon be heading out to sports bars and parties to celebrate their favorite teams. Alcohol may be a part of those celebrations. And sometimes, amid the festivities, comes issues involving drunk driving.

Drunk driving charges in Ohio are taken very seriously, with steep penalties in place. Understanding potential consequences for a drunk driving conviction is important.

Criteria for drunk driving charges

In Ohio, the criteria for a drunk driving charge, commonly referred to as Operating a Vehicle under the Influence (OVI), are primarily based on the driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

For drivers aged 21 and over, the legal limit is a BAC of 0.08%. For commercial drivers, the limit is lower, at 0.04%, and for drivers under the age of 21, it’s 0.02%. Ohio law also recognizes a high BAC level of 0.17% or above, which carries more severe penalties.

Drivers can also be charged with OVI if they are found to be impaired by drugs, whether these are illegal substances, prescription medications, or over-the-counter drugs that affect their ability to drive.

Penalties for first-time and repeat offenders

The penalties for OVI in Ohio depend on the number of offenses and the driver’s BAC level. For a first-time offender with a BAC below 0.17%, penalties include a mandatory jail sentence of at least three days, a fine ranging from $375 to $1,075, and a driver’s license suspension for six months to three years. If the BAC is 0.17% or higher, or if it’s a repeat offense within 10 years, the penalties are more severe, including longer jail time, higher fines and longer license suspensions.

Additional consequences

Besides legal penalties, drivers charged with OVI may face increased insurance premiums, mandatory attendance in alcohol education or treatment programs and the installation of an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. Furthermore, an OVI conviction can have long-term impacts on employment opportunities and personal reputation.

Anyone charged with an OVI should discuss their case with an attorney. This type of charge shouldn’t be taken lightly. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help individuals understand their rights and mitigate potential consequences.