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Are There Alternative Sentences in Ohio DUI/OVI Charges?

The short answer: Yes.  When it comes to DUI/OVI charges in Ohio, there are certainly other sentencing options that are alternative to jail-time. Contacting a legal team focused on DUI defense can help decrease sentences on your behalf.  Seeking representation is especially important in terms of repeat offenders.

However, regardless of the details and case facts, a DUI in the state of Ohio mandates some penalties that are standard and non-negotiable.  Here are three consequences that all DUI/OVI violators incur regardless of the case:

  • Fines: a minimum $375 fine (for a first offense)
  • License Suspension: the license of the driver is revoked for a minimum of one year
  • Points: in addition to the license suspension, six points will be assessed.

Although these sanctions are unavoidable, there are plenty of penalties that can be evaded with the help of a legal representative.  With penalties and procedures in mind, let’s take a look at alternative sentencing for DUI/OVI sentencings—in other words, sentencing and penalties that call for alternative requirements in lieu of jail-time.

Educational Programs

Among the most common jail-time alternatives is a Driver Intervention Program (DIP).  In fact, most first-time offenders are given the opportunity to complete a DIP program to reduce the overall penalty.  These programs are typically multi-day sessions focused on safe driving practices.

Electronic Monitoring or Home Detention

Another alternative to jail-time is electronic monitoring or home detention (also referred to sometimes as “house arrest”).  In contrast to the Driver Intervention Program, home detention is a more interventional approach.  Although these programs are undoubtedly difficult (and not to mention, expensive) most people agree that they are better than spending an extended amount of time in jail.

Options Specifically for First- or Second-Offenders

In Ohio, First- and Second-Offenders are given more leeway than other more-serious repeat offenders.  As such, judges can be flexible in what they consider due punishment.  For example, it isn’t uncommon for courts to order ignition interlock devices in an offender’s vehicle, to attend mandatory educational programs, or to pay putative fines in lieu of jail-time.

Each one of these options is made available for first-time offenders.  They represent an avenue of justice that doesn’t require jail-time for those charged with a first-offense DUI.  Importantly, they are not isolated alternatives, and it’s common for the court to mandate one or more of these approaches concurrently.

For many reasons, these alternative sentencings may not apply to repeat offenders.  An individual that is charged for multiple DUI/OVI offenses is subject to far harsher penalties and fines compared to a first-time offender.  For instance, someone charged with a repeat OVI offense can face felony status and substantial (5+ years) jail-time.  What are the legal options for these individuals?  Obviously, they are far more limited.  However, the Ohio legislator recently revised provisions for non-violent felonies in 2011.  These revisions generally eased sentencing for these types of non-violent felons, including those with multiple DUI/OVI violations on their record

The bottom line is that first- and second- time offenders could have potential alternatives to jail-time sentences for their DUI/OVI violations, but for felony convictions some sort of jail or prison time is mandatory.  Many times, courts will be willing to substitute DPI classes, electronic monitoring devices, home detention intervention programs, or installation of ignition interlock systems in place of jail-time for first- and second-time offenders.  However, a legal representative may be required to argue (on your behalf) exactly why these measures may be warranted and more-effective than jail.

In terms of 3, 4, and 5+ time offenders, legal options are far more limited.  Although Ohio lawmakers recently eased sanctions for non-violent felonies, these types of repeat-violations undoubtedly come with harsh legal penalties and mandatory jail time.  That being said, a legal representative might possibly be able to reduce your sentencing in some way, whether that means lessened fines or another reduction, consulting an experienced attorney is likely in the best interest of those accused of DUI/OVIs.