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Navigating the 3rd DUI/OVI in Ohio: What You Need to Know

Updated: November 9, 2023
Nicholas G. Gounaris
By Nicholas G. Gounaris

Nicholas G. Gounaris is a skilled trial lawyer and founding partner of Gounaris Abboud law firm. He provides clients of the firm with competent legal representation and focuses his law practice in the areas of DUI Defense, Criminal Defense, Family Law Issues, Federal Criminal Law and Personal Injury cases.

Between 2019 and 2021, nearly 40,000 OVI-related crashes occurred in Ohio, most of them taking place in a few high-accident counties, such as Franklin, Cuyahoga, and Montgomery Counties.

These staggering numbers have caused Ohio law enforcement to redouble its OVI enforcement efforts, resulting in over 11,000 OVI-related enforcement actions occurring in the first 10 months of 2023 alone.

For those facing a third OVI conviction, the consequences are serious. Jail time and fines are significantly increased, as are the possible administrative penalties.

This blog post provides information to help third DUI/OVI offenders potentially obtain the most optimal outcome for their cases. In every case, the services of a 3rd DUI lawyer are necessary.

Legal Consequences of a Third DUI/OVI Offense in Ohio

Legal Consequences of a Third DUI/OVI Offense in Ohio

As laid out in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC 4511.19), a charge of OVI (operating a vehicle impaired) is brought when a person is found operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol and with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher.

Whether you’re facing a first DUI offense or a second DUI offense, the penalties are significant. However, they’re even more serious for a third DUI offense and will likely involve time behind bars and suspended/limited driving privileges.

For this reason, it’s vital that you hire an experienced DUI lawyer soon after being arrested. A DUI attorney can be instrumental in getting your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed, which means less (or no) time behind bars and fewer fines and other miscellaneous expenses.

Lookback Period for OVI/DUI in Ohio

Ohio law provides a “lookback period” that allows the state to look back in time and use previous OVI convictions against you. Previously, the lookback period was set at six years. However, Annie’s Law changed that.

Annie Rooney was a 36-year-old lawyer who was killed by a drunk driver in 2013. After her death, legislation named after Miss Rooney, Annie’s Law, was passed.

Under its provisions, prosecutors can look back 10 years to find OVI convictions to use against a driver. Keep in mind that the lookback period doesn’t just apply to convictions. It also applies to plea arrangements and criminal refusals of chemical tests.

Enhanced Penalties for a Third OVI Offense

A 3rd DUI in Ohio comes with considerable consequences. Depending on the circumstances of your case and the results of your chemical test, you could be looking at significant and lasting repercussions. If you’re facing a third DUI offense, contact an experienced OVI attorney as soon as possible to avoid the most serious penalties.

3rd OVI: Impaired Offense

If you’re facing a third offense OVI, your punishment will depend on how recent your past OVI convictions are, as well as the results of your chemical test.

The lightest punishments are reserved for cases where:

  • You have no prior conviction for OVI within the past 10 years;
  • You didn’t take a chemical test;
  • You took a chemical test, but the results were under .08 BAC.

Keep in mind that you may also be charged with additional crimes in this situation if you submitted to a chemical test and test at .08% or above, or if you have a prior OVI conviction within the past 20 years and you refused a test.

3rd OVI: Low-Tier Test

A third DUI offense with a low-tier test qualifies you for a first-degree misdemeanor if it’s your third DUI conviction within 10 years. A low-tier chemical test produces results between .08 and .17%.

Punishment for a third drunk driving offense at this level can range from 30 days to one year in jail, or 15 days in jail plus 55 days of house arrest and up to one year in jail.

Additionally, significant fines starting at $850 and running up to $2,750 will be levied. You’ll also be subject to administrative penalties that include an administrative license suspension for two to 10 years, restricted license plates, and the installation of an ignition interlock device.

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3rd OVI: High-Tier Test

As you might imagine, a third OVI with a high-tier test comes with stiffer penalties than a third OVI with a low-tier test. If your BAC is at .17% or greater, your charge will still be classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. However, your punishment will be more severe.

You’ll be subject to at least 60 days in jail instead of 30, but you’ll also be allowed the same combination of house arrest and jail permitted under low-tier test provisions. Additionally, the range for fines is the same as with a low-tier test, as are the attendant administrative penalties.

3rd OVI: Criminal Refusal

If you’re charged with OVI within 10 years and refuse a chemical test, you could be looking at a maximum of one year and at least 60 days in jail, or 15 days in jail along with a minimum of 55 days of house arrest.

You’ll also be responsible for at least $850 in fines up to a maximum of $2,750, participation in a mandatory substance abuse counseling program, a license suspension of between two and 10 years, and the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Penalties for 3rd OVI Offense in Ohio Impaired Offense Low Tier Test High Tier Test Criminal Refusal
Jail 30 days to 1 year 30 days to 1 year 60 days to 1 year 60 days to 1 year
License Suspension 2 years to 12 years 2 years to 12 years 2 years to 12 years 2 years to 12 years
Hard Period (No Driving Privileges) 180 days 180 days 180 days 180 days
Fine $850 to $2750 $850 to $2750 $850 to $2750 $850 to $2750
Party Plates Mandatory Mandatory Mandatory Mandatory
Interlock on Car (Blow & Go) Mandatory. Or, if drug OVI, at the judge’s discretion. Mandatory. Or, if drug OVI, at the judge’s discretion. Mandatory. Or, if drug OVI, at the judge’s discretion. Mandatory. Or, if drug OVI, at the judge’s discretion.
Alcohol Assessment and Treatment Mandatory Mandatory Mandatory Mandatory
90-Day Vehicle Immobilization Yes Yes Yes Yes
Vehicle Subject to Forfeiture Yes Yes Yes Yes
Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) Mandatory if driving privileges are authorized. Mandatory if driving privileges are authorized. N/A Mandatory if driving privileges are authorized.

Long-Term Consequences of 3rd DUI

The potential long-term consequences of a third DUI charge in Ohio include:

  • Criminal history: A third offense will result in another misdemeanor on your record. With a criminal record, you’re in more legal jeopardy for future OVI offenses that can be charged as felonies;
  • Job issues: Having a criminal record is a non-starter for many types of employment;
  • Driver’s license: You’ll be looking at a long driver’s license suspension with a third OVI conviction;
  • Insurance payments: DUI convictions will likely cause your insurance rates to skyrocket;
  • Financial consequences: A third DUI can have major financial impacts. Fines, court costs, and the fees associated with ignition devices and motioning bracelets add up quickly;
  • Personal and community relationships: DUI convictions lead to loss of trust among family members and friends, as well as strained relationships with members of the community;
  • Schooling: Many educational institutions frown upon DUI convictions, especially second and third convictions. Some have policies that disallow students with such records from attending.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that a third OVI offense could effectively ruin your life, which is why it’s so important to work with a qualified DUI lawyer.

What to Expect from the Legal Process for a Third DUI/OVI

What to Expect from the Legal Process for a Third DUI/OVI

Although the circumstances surrounding OVI cases may differ substantially, the legal process doesn’t vary much once you’re charged with the crime. The first thing that will likely occur once a law enforcement officer charges you with OVI is that you’ll receive an administrative license suspension.

When you contact a criminal defense lawyer, they’ll get to work obtaining evidence relating to the incident and analyzing every aspect of the case against you, including the officer’s actions. If evidence was gathered incorrectly or procedural violations occurred, your attorney will seek to suppress such evidence.

At the arraignment, you’ll be required to face the charges against you and enter a plea. At this stage, your DUI attorney may be able to resolve the case with a plea deal for a stipulated reduction (reducing a third DUI offense to a second one). If not, your attorney will have you enter a plea of not guilty, and a future court date will be set.

At this point, your attorney will gather more evidence and continue negotiating with the prosecutor. They’ll also take steps to have improperly seized evidence thrown out.

If a plea can’t be negotiated at this stage, a trial will be scheduled. At trial, both sides will present evidence to a judge or jury. It’s important to note that your lawyer may still negotiate a plea deal during these proceedings, even after the trial starts.

What to Do After a Third DUI/OVI

There are things you can do to help mitigate the negative consequences you’ll face after being charged with a third DUI offense.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer

Contact an Experienced Lawyer

After being charged with a third offense, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can mitigate the consequences you face and even help you avoid jail time.

Remain Calm

Try not to panic, as doing so can cause you to make irrational decisions that negatively affect your case. Trust your attorney to do everything in their power to defend you to the full extent of the law.

Learn as Much as You Can

A third DUI is an opportunity to educate yourself about the Ohio criminal justice system and how the state prosecutes DUI cases. Understanding how prosecutions are handled can make you better prepared to face your proceedings.

How Can We Help You with a 3rd OVI Offense?

Being charged with a third OVI is a serious situation. Fortunately, an experienced OVI lawyer can mount an effective defense on your behalf and work to obtain a favorable outcome, such as reduced or dropped charges.

Some of the ways our attorneys serve their clients include:

  • Challenging alcohol or drug tests;
  • Exposing coercive police tactics;
  • Questioning whether the police had cause to stop you;
  • Demonstrating that you didn’t operate a vehicle while impaired.

Whatever weakness our team can find in the prosecution’s case, you can expect us to exploit it in your defense.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let a third OVI offense threaten your future. With the help of Gounaris Abboud, LPA, you can potentially get your charges reduced or beat them altogether. Our Dayton DUI lawyers have helped thousands get their lives back on track with minimal to no criminal penalties, and we’re prepared to fight for you.

Contact our office anytime to schedule a free consultation and case review and learn how Gounaris Abboud, LPA, can help.

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