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My Child Is Facing A DUI, How Can I Help Them?

Under 21 DUI Arrest Lawyers in Cincinnati

If your teenager has been arrested for DUI (known in Ohio as OVI, for “operating a vehicle under the influence”), you are not alone. Teenagers and 20-year-olds are more likely to be unaware of how alcohol affects them and take more risks than older adults. It is not surprising then, that while only about 10% of licensed drivers in Ohio are under 21, they are responsible for about 13-17% of fatal drinking and driving accidents.

As a parent, you should guide and protect your teenager through the OVI process. The best ways to do this are to:

  • Educate yourself about underage OVI laws, and other Ohio laws about underage drinking
  • Understand the long-term consequences you child can face from an OVI conviction
  • Get professional legal help

What Are Ohio Underage Drinking Laws?

In Ohio, the drinking age is 21. This means that in most cases, the consumption of alcohol by anyone under 21 is illegal. However, there are exceptions. People under the age of 21 may consume alcohol:

  • With the permission and supervision of a parent, legal guardian, or spouse, who is over the age of 21
  • As part of a religious ceremony or practice
  • As part of a medical procedure or for medical purposes under the direction of a physician

However, those exceptions clearly don’t allow underage people to drive while under the influence – that is not legal for anyone, underage or not. Standards for underage DUI are actually stricter than those for people over 21.

For people over 21, the “per se” DUI limit (sometimes thought of as the “legal limit”) is 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC). For drivers under 21, that cutoff is much lower at 0.02 BAC. For most teenagers, this means they may be considered legally under the influence after having just one drink. An underage DUI in Ohio is known as an OVUAC, for “operating a vehicle after underage consumption.”

What Are Penalties for Operating A Vehicle After Underage Consumption?

If your child is under 18 and charged with an OVI, they will face their charge in county juvenile court. Possible consequences there include:

Drivers over the age of 18 will face their charge in municipal adult court. Possible penalties for underage drivers between 18 and 21 who are convicted of a first OVUAC include:

  • A mandatory license suspension ranging from 90 days to 2 years
  • No driving privileges at all for 60 days
  • Up to 30 days in jail, with no mandatory time
  • A fine up to $250, with no mandatory minimum fine
  • Possible probation, including alcohol or drug treatment
  • Possible special DUI license plates and an ignition interlock device installed in the driver’s vehicle or any vehicle the driver uses
  • Completion of a remedial driving course

Penalties get harsher for drivers between 18 and 21 who are convicted of a second OVUAC, and include:

  • A mandatory license suspension ranging from 1 to 5 years
  • Up to 60 days in jail, with no mandatory time
  • A fine up to $500, with no mandatory minimum fine

Other Consequences of an OVI Conviction

Criminal penalties are not the only way that an OVUAC conviction may affect your child. There are many longer-term impacts to consider, including:

  • Educational consequences – colleges often ask about criminal history as part of admissions and may look negatively on an OVI conviction. A conviction may also affect your child’s ability to receive financial aid and scholarships. Your child may also face consequences from their high school or college and lose privileges such as participating in athletic programs or other extracurricular activities.
  • Inability to find employment – employers also routinely about criminal records during hiring, and a DUI may be considered an immediate disqualification for many jobs
  • Increased insurance costs – car insurance rates increase after OVI convictions
  • Financial hardship – if your child caused an accident, they may be liable for paying the costs of damages to the other party and may even be sued in civil court

OVUAC convictions stay on your child’s record permanently and cannot be sealed or expunged.

Your child being charged with OVI can be a very frightening and stressful experience, but it is something that many other parents have successfully navigated. As a parent, you will probably experience a range of emotions: shocked, angry, concerned, helpless, distrustful of your child, uncertain of what to do. The most important first step is to hire an experienced attorney to assist you through the legal process. A lawyer will be able to provide invaluable guidance, reducing the strain you are feeling. It may also be beneficial for you and your child to attend therapy sessions or counseling while the case is ongoing, and once your child’s OVI charge is resolved.

For a resource on how to talk to your child about drinking, see:

A conviction for OVUAC could result in long-term consequences for your teenager or 20-year-old. Call us today to discuss your case with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who can work with you for a better outcome.