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DUI Penalties: First DUI Offense in Ohio

You can be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, known as “OVI” (operating a vehicle under the influence) in Ohio if you operate a vehicle:

  • with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more (or a urine alcohol concentration of .110 or more);
  • with certain concentrations of drugs like amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, methamphetamine, or PCP in your body; or
  • while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What Happens After My First Ohio DUI Arrest?

After your arrest, the police will take your driver’s license. You will also be notified of an administrative suspension of your license by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). You have 30 days from the time of your arraignment in order to challenge this suspension with the BMV. However, you may be eligible for restricted, or limited, driving privileges for purposes such as driving to school or work, but these privileges will be up to the discretion of the judge, and can only be obtained after the mandatory portion of the suspension is complete. The court can choose to grant you limited driving privileges under O.R.C. section 4510.021 and 4510.13 for: (1) occupational, educational, vocational, or medical purposes; (2) taking the driver’s or commercial driver’s license examination; (3) attending court-ordered treatment; (4) any other purpose the court determines to be appropriate or attending any court proceeding related to the offense for which the offender’s suspension was imposed; or (5) transporting a minor to a child care provider, daycare, preschool, school, or to any other location for purposes of receiving child care. Finally, the court may also grant unlimited driving.

If you chose to refuse to submit to the chemical or breath tests, in violation of Ohio’s “implied consent” law, your license will be automatically suspended for one year (on a first DUI), because Ohio recognizes that by driving, you provide “implied consent” to be tested by law enforcement if you are stopped.

After your arrest, you will face an arraignment, in which you will enter your plea of “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest.” As your first offense, you will be facing a first-degree misdemeanor for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs in violation of Ohio Revised Code section 4511.19(G)(1)(a) if found guilty.

The first step you should take after being arrested for your first DUI/OVI offense is to educate yourself about the relevant law. Reading this website is a good way to do that, as is speaking to a qualified DUI defense attorney. You can learn about the court process for a DUI offense and the possible consequences that you are facing, including license suspensions, jail time, and fines. You can also read about the various types of DUI charges, tests, and potential defenses.

What Are Potential Penalties in My First Ohio DUI Offense?

Potential penalties include a mandatory jail term of three consecutive days (72 hours), although this jail term could be suspended by the judge if the court chooses instead to place you under a “community control sanction,” pursuant to O.R.C. 2929.25, and requires you to attend, for three (3) consecutive days, a driver’s intervention program certified under O.R.C. 5119.38.

Your license, in a first DUI, could be suspended by the court for a period of one to three years, as a Class Five license suspension upon your conviction for a first-time DUI/OVI offense, after which you will have to pay a reinstatement fee to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Furthermore, if you are convicted of having a blood alcohol concentration above .17, the court may also require you to install yellow “restricted” license plates on your car or to have an interlock device installed in your vehicle before driving privileges will be granted.

Fines for first offense DUI arrests range between $375 and $1,075, which will be in addition to the $475 reinstatement fee to have your driver’s license reinstated after your license suspension is over, as well as any fees for installing a certified ignition interlock device, if the court grants you unlimited driving privileges during your suspension.

The court may also require you to attend and satisfactorily complete any treatment of education programs that comply with the minimum standards adopted pursuant to Chapter 5119 of the Ohio Revised Code, as well as any other conditions of community control that the court considers necessary.

Finally, if you are convicted of your first DUI offense, any subsequent DUI arrest could cause you to incur much more severe penalties if you should happen to be arrested for another DUI offense within 10 years following your arrest.

It is important that you seek the help of a DUI attorney experienced in Ohio DUI law as soon as possible to represent you in this hearing and to immediately begin conducting discovery after your arraignment. Such a qualified DUI attorney will use this discovery to learn everything that the prosecution will use against you in trial, and your attorney may be able to have some of this evidence suppressed so that it cannot be used in trial, especially if evidence was obtained through a faulty procedure.

Your DUI attorney may also successfully get your charges reduced or even dropped by finding holes in the prosecution’s case against you, prove that the arresting officer violated your rights during the arrest, or undermine the arresting officer’s testimony.