Intoxicated driving is one of the most common criminal charges in Ohio.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that 19,008 people were arrested on OVI charges in the state in 2018 alone.
No matter the specific circumstances, an OVI charge is always a serious matter. Even a first-time OVI conviction could result in a defendant facing severe penalties.
Here, our Dayton defense lawyers give an overview of the Ohio OVI laws. We will also explain what to expect if you are facing a first-time intoxicated driving offense.
DUI charges in Dayton are heard in the Dayton Municipal Court at 301 West Third Street, Dayton, Ohio.
For a free consultation, please call (937) 222-1515 or fill out our online form today.
OVI Ohio First Offense: What Am I Facing?
Under Ohio law (Ohio Revised Code § 4511.19), it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Ohio has graduated penalties for OVI offenses. This means a defendant will face worse penalties with each intoxicated driving offense.
Still, a first-time OVI is not a minor issue. For a first-time OVI, you will face both criminal and administrative penalties. Let’s take a look at some of the penalties you might face.
Criminal Ohio OVI Penalties for a First-Time Offender
Ohio OVI first-offense penalties will vary depending on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level when you are arrested and processed.
If you are convicted for a first-offense OVI in Ohio with a BAC above 0.08% but below 0.17%, it is punishable by the following:
- Up to a $1,075 fine,
- A minimum of three days in jail but up to six months. However, enrollment in a driver’s intervention program may be used in lieu of a jail sentence.
Following a conviction, you also face up to three years of driver’s license suspension.
If you are convicted of your first OVI in Ohio, but your BAC is above 0.17%, it is punishable by:
- Up to $1,000 fine,
- A minimum of six days in jail but up to six months,
- Loss of your driver’s license for up to three years,
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle,
- Mandatory yellow restricted license plates, or
- Any combination of the above.
You can also face these enhanced penalties for a first offense with a BAC below 0.17% but accompanied by a refusal to submit to a breathalyzer charge.
Whether you blew a 0.08% or 0.7%, a first DUI in Ohio has the potential for steep consequences that will undoubtedly impact your life. Hiring a knowledgeable and skilled DUI defense attorney is your best defense at beating the charges.
Administrative Penalties: Your License Will Be Automatically Suspended — Unless You Act
If you get charged with a drunk driving offense in Ohio, your license will be suspended before you get a hearing on your case.
An administrative license suspension (ALS) is imposed by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, separate and in addition to any license suspensions imposed by the criminal court judge as a part of an OVI sentencing. You might be thinking, Can I face an ALS for a first-offense OVI? And it might surprise you to learn that you can face an ALS for a first-offense OVI if you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test.
An ALS is immediately imposed if you refuse a chemical test or the test result shows a BAC that exceeds the legal limit. A refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in a 12-month suspension, and if the test result shows you are over the legal limit, it will result in a 90-day suspension.
You can take action to stop this. Contact an experienced OVI Ohio defense lawyer after your drunk driving arrest. You have 30 days to request a hearing to challenge the automatic suspension.
Other Collateral Consequences of Even a First-OVI Conviction
Driving while intoxicated is deeply frowned upon by most of society. A conviction will carry a negative stigma that may impact your relationship and reputation among your relatives, friends, co-workers, and peers.
In addition to the above statutory penalties for a first offense, you also face the following:
- Increased insurance premiums,
- Six points on your driver’s license,
- Immigration consequences, and
- The risk of losing your current job or the inability to obtain gainful employment.
Importantly, under Ohio law, OVI’s are ineligible for expungement or sealing, which means a conviction will remain on your record for the rest of your life.
You May Face Additional Penalties if Other ‘Aggravating Factors’ are Present
A history of OVI offenses is not the only factor that impacts the criminal penalties in these cases.
A defendant could be charged with a more severe OVI offense if:
- They were highly intoxicated — a BAC level above .17;
- The accident occurred resulted in significant property damage or an injury;
- There was a minor present within the vehicle; or
- Other traffic offenses, such as reckless driving, were committed at the same time.
No matter the circumstances of your OVI arrest, you need an experienced DUI defense attorney to advocate on your behalf.
Underage OVI Charges
In Ohio, as in the rest of the country, you must be 21 years old to purchase and consume alcohol legally. Likewise, if you are under 21 and are caught driving while under the influence, you will face an underage OVI charge. While the legal blood alcohol concentration for adults over 21 is 0.08%, if you are under 21, the legal BAC limit is substantially more strict at just 0.02%.
Practically speaking, just a few sips of an alcoholic beverage may put you over the legal limit if you are under 21. An underage OVI can drastically affect your life, affecting your ability to apply for higher education programs, the military, and more.
What Are the Defenses for a First-Offense OVI?
While drunk driving charges are serious and consequential, facing a charge does not automatically mean you will be convicted. Prosecutors pursue OVI cases aggressively, but with the proper defense, it is possible to beat the charges.
Common OVI defenses include the following:
- Illegal traffic stop (i.e., law enforcement did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to effectuate the stop);
- Improper administration of roadside field sobriety tests;
- Failure to advise you of your Miranda rights after being detained;
- Faulty administration of the breathalyzer test;
- Improper maintenance or calibration of the breathalyzer machine that led to a faulty reading;
- Inaccurate blood results; or
- Physical impairments unrelated to alcohol that mirror intoxication symptoms (e.g., you have physical injuries that caused you to stumble or allergies that caused your glassy eyes).
Remember, not every case is the same, and the defense that may have worked for your friend or neighbor may not work in your case. The best way to determine the most effective defense is to meet with our DUI lawyers. We will listen to your story, review and analyze the evidence against you, and strategize your best defense.
Speak to a DUI Defense Attorney in Dayton, Ohio
At Gounaris Abboud, LPA, our Ohio drunk driving defense lawyers have more than 50 years of experience protecting the rights of our clients.
If you or a family member was arrested for a first-time OVI offense, we can help. To arrange a free, no-obligation analysis of your case, please contact our law firm online or call (937) 222-1515 right away.
With offices in Dayton, Springboro, and West Chester, we serve clients throughout the region, including in Montgomery County, Warren County, and Butler County.