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Attorney Matthew Weisenburger
Cline, Cook, and Weisenburger Co., L.P.A.
300 Madison Ave. Suite 1100
Toledo, Ohio 43604
Procedures & Penalties
Like most states, Ohio has dropped its threshold of legal intoxication from .10 % blood alcohol conten to .08%.
BAC is a measure of the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. BAC readings are taken through blood testing, urine, saliva or breath analysis. Of the three, the breath analysis is by far the most common.
Like everywhere else, Ohio's legal drinking age is 21. Drivers under the age of 21 who are found driving with a BAC of at least .02% but under .08% can be found guilty of Operating a Vehicle After Underage Consumption (OVUAC). Penalties for OVUAC can include a license suspension from 60 days to two years, a remedial driving class, a new license examination and a license reinstatement fee. OVUAC also adds four points to your driver's license.
Adults with a BAC of .08% or more are considered legally drunk and incapable of driving. Ohio law groups Driving Under The Influence (DUI) and Driving While intoxicated (DWI) together under the term Operating a Vehicle Under The Influence (OVI). If you are stopped by police under suspicion of OVI, (operating a vehicle while under the influence") you will be asked to take a BAC (also referred to as a chemical test or sobriety test). Coming in over the limit on your BAC test will automatically result in an Administrative License Suspension (ALS). An ALS will revoke your right to drive, and can last anywhere from 90 days to three years, depending on your previous driving history. Your license will be confiscated by the officer, right on the spot. This is separate from whatever other punishments the court puts on you, including the possibility of extra suspension time.
Refusal to take the breathalyzer test will automatically result in a license suspension, from one to five years. And...they'll still figure a way to take your BAC. In cases of more than one OVI conviction, the law calls for police to obtain a chemical alcohol or
drug test "by any sort of reasonable measure." Within a five-day margin after the arrest, you have the right to contest and request a court hearing. But your burden of proof will rest on the following:
- There was not a reasonable suspicion of OVI
- The officer did not request a BAC test on the spot
- You were not told the consequences of failing or refusal of the test
- You yourself did not refuse or fail the test
Within two hours after the arrest, you have the option to have a qualified person (of your choosing) administer the BAC test again, as long as it's under the supervision of police. If the court deems you a threat to public safety, you can still have your license suspended even if you prove any of these. You can appeal the court for a hardship license or occupational license, but that's subject to conditions as well:
- First 30 days of suspension on a first offense.
- First 90 days of suspension on a person who had a previous refusal within 6 years.
- First year of suspension on a person who had 2 previous refusals within 6 years
- First 3 years of suspension on a person who had 3 previous refusals within 6 years.
A person, who within the preceding 7 years, has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to 3 or more OVI violations cannot be granted limited privileges.
Conviction for OVI in Ohio can result in jail time that may range from three days (first offense) to 60 days or more (fourth offense). Fines can go anywhere from $250 to $10,000, depending on the number of OVI convictions on your record. You will also receive six points on your license, and when it's time for renewal you will face a $475 fee to get the license back, as well as proof of insurance. And that could be a problem too -- most likely your insurance premiums will spike or you will be dropped by your insurance company.
If you are found guilty of an OVI offense, you will face jail time of anywhere from three days (first offense) to 60 days (fourth offense). You'll face a fine that will range from $250 to $10,000. The specific penalties are determined by the number of OVI convictions over the past six year.
On your second OVI conviction in a six year period, your vehicle may be immobilized; one more conviction would result in forfeiture of the vehicle. A fourth OVI is considered a felony.
Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor, and carries additional penalties. Not only that, but letting anyone who is under
suspension use your vehicle can result in a suspension for you, even if you've never had an OVI offense or suspension in the past. If you are convicted of two OVI offenses within a six-year period, your vehicle may be immobilized. If it happens again, you may forfeit your vehicle.
If you are convicted of four OVI offenses within that time period, you will be also be charged with a felony. Also, if you are caught driving while under any sort of suspension, you will face additional penalties. Even if you have never been convicted of an OVI offense, do not let anyone who you know is under suspension use your vehicle. If you do, you could face suspension as well.
Five or more OVI convictions in a 20-year span will land you on the Habitual OVI Registry. This list will allow everyone to see your
name, date of birth, home address and all OVI convictions until you no longer have five OVI convictions (in 20 years) on your record.