Like all states in the U.S., Ohio law takes a unique approach to drinking and driving regulations. Operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) is illegal in the Buckeye State and carries heavy penalties.

Understanding how Ohio administers OVI law can help residents make smarter choices when getting behind the wheel. Those informed on the law also stand a better chance of protecting their rights in court.

Multiple offenders face increased penalties

Ohio’s law prohibits the operation of any motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Cops can arrest individuals who are visibly intoxicated while driving or those with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher. Penalties increase for every offense beyond the first within ten years. Punishments include:

  • First offense: First-time offenders face between three days and six months in jail, between $375 and $1,075 in fines and up to three years of a license suspension.
  • Second offense: Those charged with a second OVI in ten years face increased penalties. Offenders spend between 10 days and six months in jail, pay fines up to $1,625 and may spend seven years with a suspended license.
  • Third offense: For the third OVI in ten years, convicts face the harshest penalties. Offenders can expect up to one year in jail, $2,750 in fines and potentially 12 years of a suspended license.

Ohio’s Community Control Sanctions

Ohio law allows OVI offenders to reduce their sentences by participating in their “Community Control Sanctions.” A type of probation, the court requires offenders to complete a treatment program, as well as other conditions based on the number of OVI offenses:

  • First offense: At least three days enrolled in a driver’s intervention program.
  • Second offense: Five days in jail and 18 days on house arrest with an alcohol monitoring system.
  • Third offense: 15 days of jail time and 55 days of house arrest under alcohol monitoring.

Protect one’s rights with legal help

Those facing an OVI conviction can protect their rights by hiring a lawyer familiar with Ohio’s unique OVI laws. An attorney can assess one’s case and will work with the judge on probationary measures.