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DUI Penalties: What Happens If I Have A Third DUI Offense in Ohio?

Driving Under the Influence
If you had a 0.08 level or higher on a breath test, you can be charged with a DUI offense. You can also be charged if the officer witnessed any signs of your driving being impaired and determines that you failed the field sobriety tests you were subjected to. If your breath test is a 0.17 or higher you will be charged with a high-test DUI offense that has a stiffer penalty than a regular third DUI offense. If this is your third DUI or Operating a Vehicle under the Influence (OVI) arrest in Ohio in a ten-year time span, you will be facing a very serious criminal offense that will completely change if you are convicted. A third DUI offense is much harsher than a first or second DUI offense in Ohio. Under some city codes, like the city of Columbus, there is a lifetime look back for prior DUI convictions. You will be facing many unforgiving penalties and consequences including jail time, expensive fines, alcohol treatment, the DUI charge permanently being on your criminal record, difficulty keeping or finding a job, and suffering significant damage to your reputation as a result of now being a habitual DUI offender.

After your arrest, you will have your initial court appearance at your arraignment where you can choose to plead “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “nolo contondere,” which means no contest. Following your arraignment, you will also have a preliminary pretrial court date where your DUI defense attorney will be able to obtain any additional discovery on any evidence that the prosecution has against you.

First, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will automatically suspend your license administratively if you do not request a hearing within 10 days of getting your suspension notice, which will usually be given to you after you are arrested. You should immediately request a hearing before the BMV after your arrest, or else the administrative suspensions will go into effect in 10 days. While the administrative suspension process is not part of the criminal system, you will still have the right to have an attorney represent you at the BMV hearing, and it is always in your best interest to hire an experienced DUI defense lawyer to represent you throughout your administrative suspension process with the Ohio BMV, in addition to your criminal proceedings.

What Are Potential Penalties for a Third DUI in Ohio?

As your third DUI offense within a span of ten years, your offense will be an unclassified misdemeanor under Ohio Revised Code section 4511.19(G)(1)(c). You will be sentenced to a mandatory jail term of at least thirty (30) consecutive days and up to a maximum of one year unless the court instead imposes a sentence consisting of both a jail term of 15 days and a term of electronically monitored house arrest for 55 days. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) was .17% or greater, you will face a minimum of 60 days in jail and up to a maximum of one year. You will also be ordered to participate with a community addiction services provider, and you must follow the mandatory treatment recommendations of that services provider. Your driver’s license will be suspended for two to twelve years unless the court chooses to grant limited privileges under O.R.C. section 4510.021 and 4510.13 after you have had no driving privileges for a minimum of 180 days from the date the charge occurred. The court may also choose to reduce the minimum driver’s license suspension to 1 year. You will be required to place restricted yellow license plates on your vehicle when you are able to drive again, as well as be required to install a certified ignition interlock device on your vehicle.  If the vehicle is registered in your name, it will either be immobilized for at least 90 days or criminally forfeited.

You will face a fine for your third DUI arrest ranging between $850 and $2,750, in addition to the $475 reinstatement fee to have your driver’s license reinstated after your suspension is over, the cost of your mandatory alcohol treatment program and the cost of the certified ignition interlock device on your new vehicle.

Finally, your third DUI/OVI conviction in Ohio will also, unfortunately, have a very negative impact on all other areas of your life. Your third conviction will permanently remain on both your driving as well as criminal record. You also face increased vehicle insurance rates, difficulty keeping or finding a job, furthering your education, difficulty financially, maintaining professional licensures and keeping custody of your children.

Because you are a repeat DUI offender, you are not going to receive very much leniency from the prosecutor or judge. However, an experienced Ohio DUI defense attorney can still help you. Because the penalties for being convicted of your third DUI charge are so steep, it is very important to fight the charges with the best attorney available. A qualified and experienced attorney will examine factors such as:

  • Whether your arrest was legal;
  • If any of your rights were violated;
  • If your breath test, blood test, or urine test was conducted properly;
  • If the testing machine had been properly calibrated and maintained;
  • If appropriate procedure followed at all times by the police and prosecution; and
  • If there is any reason to believe that the test results might not be accurate.

No DUI/OVI arrest in Ohio is perfect. Many of these investigations include numerous witnesses, including police officers and various personnel who collect, store and test the chemical samples obtained from you for detecting your BAC. Each of these witnesses is human and may have made mistakes at some point during the process. The breath testing device or other testing equipment used by the police during your arrest may have been improperly maintained or calibrated. A good DUI defense lawyer may be able to use these factors and other considerations to help you win your case, to potentially get the case against you dropped, or at least perhaps reduce some of the significant penalties that you will face if convicted of your third DUI offense.