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What Do I Need To Know About Ohio DUI Charges?

What Is A DUI Offense In Ohio?

A DUI offense in Ohio, or OVI, means you were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To convict you, a prosecutor will have to prove to the court that you consumed alcohol or drugs above the legal limit under Ohio Revised Code section 4311.19. To be guilty of a DUI/OVI offense, your blood alcohol content (BAC) must be above .08 if you are an adult, or .02, if you are a minor, and O.R.C. section 4311.19, contains the list of prohibited levels of drugs in your body.

If you are pulled over by a police officer who suspects you are driving while intoxicated, the officer may administer field sobriety tests to test your responses and will ask you to take a breathalyzer test to measure your BAC. If the officer arrests you, you may also be subjected to blood or urine tests.

What Punishments Could I Face?

The punishments you will face if convicted of a DUI/OVI offense will depend on if this is your first conviction or you are a repeat offender. If this is your first conviction, you will face a first-degree misdemeanor with a mandatory jail term of three consecutive days and up to six months in jail, unless the court chooses to suspend the jail term and instead require you to attend a drivers’ intervention program for three consecutive days under O.R.C. 5119.38. You will face a driver’s license suspension for a period of one to three years and a fine ranging between $375 and $1,075 in addition to a $475 license reinstatement fee. The judge may also require you attend alcohol or drug counseling programs.

For your second DUI/OVI conviction, you will face a first-degree misdemeanor with a mandatory jail term of ten consecutive days unless the court decides to instead sentence you to house arrest. The court will also order you be assessed by a community addiction services provider, under O.R.C. section 5119.21, and you will be required to follow the provider’s treatment recommendations. Your license will be suspended for a period of one to seven years, and if the vehicle you were driving is registered in your name, it will be impounded for ninety days under O.R.C. section 4503.233. Lastly, you will be fined between $525 and $1,625 in addition to the $475 license reinstatement fee.

For your third DUI/OVI conviction, you will face an unclassified misdemeanor with a mandatory jail term of thirty (30) consecutive days, unless the judge instead divides the sentence between a jail term and a term of house arrest. The judge may also sentence you to up to a year in jail. You will be ordered to participate with a community addiction services provider and follow the provider’s mandatory treatment recommendations. Your license will be suspended between 2 to 12 years, although the court may reduce the minimum suspension to 1 year. If the vehicle you were driving was yours, it will be criminally forfeited. Finally, you will be fined between $850 and $2,750 in addition to the $475 reinstatement fee.

Finally, for your fourth or fifth DUI charge in a 10-year period, or your sixth DUI offense in a 20-year period, you will face a fourth-degree felony with a mandatory jail term between 60 days and 1 year or the court may choose to add an additional 6 to 30 months in prison. You must attend a mandatory alcohol/drug addiction program and will receive a Class 2 license suspension for a period of 3 years to life. If you were driving your own vehicle, it will be criminally forfeited. You will be fined between $1,350 and $10,500 in addition to the $475 license reinstatement fee if the suspension was not permanent.

Can I Ever Drive Again?

If you have been convicted of a DUI/OVI offense, your license was likely suspended for at least one year. But you will probably still be able to drive again, and when your suspension is over, you will be able to pay the $475 reinstatement fee and regain your license. The judge can also grant you unlimited or limited driving privileges. Under O.R.C. sections 4510.021 and 4510.13, the judge can grant you limited driving privileges for occupational, educational, vocational, or medical purposes; taking the driver’s or commercial driver’s license examination; attending court-ordered treatment; 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 transporting a minor to a child care provider, daycare, preschool, school, or to any other location for purposes of receiving child care. The court may also reduce your license suspension by half with unlimited driving privileges if this is your first conviction, under O.R.C. section 4510.022, while requiring you to install a certified ignition interlock device on your vehicle.

How Can I Recover from My Mistake?

One of the first steps toward recovering from your DUI will be attending any required alcohol treatment or driver’s intervention programs. These programs can help you get your life back on track and help you adjust your life and behavior so this mistake never happens again. You can also seek out support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous to help you move forward. . The most important step in recovering from your DUI is to make sure that you never again drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

How Can An Attorney Help Me?

Hiring a qualified DUI defense attorney is critical to successfully fighting a DUI charge. Your attorney can often discover weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, such by proving any tests were improperly administered or the testing machines improperly calibrated or maintained. Your attorney can move to have the prosecution’s evidence against you suppressed for these reasons, because the officer improperly administered field sobriety tests, or even by proving the officer had no probable cause to stop you in the first place. A qualified Ohio DUI defense attorney can potentially help you avoid significant penalties for a DUI/OVI conviction such as jail or prison time, license suspension, or higher fines. Ideally, your attorney will be able to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution resulting in fewer penalties or a lighter charge and may even be able to have your charges are dismissed.