DUI LAWS IN OHIO

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SUMMARY OF OHIO LAWS RELATED TO DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE

Disclaimer. Ohio laws related to driving under the influence are frequently changed by the legislature and interpreted by the courts.

Common Terms & Acronyms for Driving Under the Influence. In Ohio, people use interchangeably the terms Drunk Driving, DUI, OMVI and OVI. The correct acronym is OVI, as the law prohibits Operating a Vehicle under the Influence.

Prohibited Vehicular Activity. For the offense of OVI, Ohio law makes it illegal to "operate" a vehicle under the influence or with a prohibited concentration of alcohol and/or drugs. "Operate" means to cause movement of a vehicle. In addition, Ohio has a separate offense of Physical Control of a Vehicle Under the Influence. "Physical Control" means being in the driver's position of the front seat of a vehicle and having possession of the vehicle's ignition key or ignition device.

Covered Vehicles. "Vehicle" generally means every device by which a person may be transported. "Vehicle" includes bicycles but does not include other devices moved by human power. "Vehicle" does not include motorized wheelchairs, electric personal assistive mobility devices, low-speed micromobility devices, personal delivery devices, any devices moved by power collected from overhead electric trolley wires, or any devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.

Covered Locations. The prohibited vehicular activity applies everywhere "within this state". The implied consent law for administrative license suspensions applies to highways (roads), as well as public or private property used by the public for vehicular travel or parking.

OVI Offenses. There are five types of OVI offenses in Ohio. Please see the below linked chart for a table which thoroughly explains Ohio's OVI offenses and penalties. ORC 4511.19

OVI 'Impaired'. Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or a drug of abuse. "Under the influence" means the alcohol/drug adversely affected and noticeably impaired the defendant's actions, reactions, or mental processes and affected the nervous system, brain, or muscles of the defendant so as to impair, to a noticeable degree, the defendant's ability to operate the vehicle.

OVI 'Per Se'. Operating a vehicle with a prohibited concentration of alcohol and/or drugs. For alcohol, the prohibited concentration is .080 in breath/whole blood, .096 in blood serum or plasma, and .110 in urine. For drugs, the prohibited concentrations vary by drug and by bodily fluid tested.

OVI 'Per Se' – High Test. For alcohol OVI only: operating a vehicle with a concentration of alcohol which is at or above .170 in breath/whole blood, .204 in blood serum or plasma, or .238 in urine.

OVI Test Refusal with Prior Conviction. After being arrested for OVI, refuse to submit to chemical testing, and have a prior OVI conviction within the past 20 years.

OVUAC. "Operating a Vehicle after Underage Consumption". For persons under 21, operate a vehicle with a prohibited concentration of alcohol: .020 in breath/whole blood, .03 in blood serum or plasma, or .028 in urine.

OVI-Related Offenses

Physical Control: Be in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence, or with a prohibited concentration, of alcohol and/or a drug of abuse. ORC 4511.194

Boating Under the Influence. Operate, or be in physical control of, a vessel (or water device) while under the influence, or with a prohibited concentration, of alcohol and/or a drug of abuse. ORC 1547.11

OVI Penalties. Ohio has mandatory minimum penalties and statutory maximum penalties for OVI. Below is a quick summary. Please see the below linked chart for a table which thoroughly explains Ohio's OVI offenses and penalties. ORC 4511.19(G)

First Offense w/in Ten Years: Jail term of three days to six months, license suspension of one year to three years, fine of $375 to $1,075. Minimum jail term is doubled for OVI Per Se-High Test and for OVI Test Refusal w/Prior Conviction.

Second Offense w/in Ten Years: Jail term of ten days to six months, license suspension of one year to seven years, fine of $525 to $1,625, restricted license plates, ignition interlock, vehicle immobilization for 90 days. Minimum jail term is doubled for OVI Per Se-High Test and for OVI Test Refusal w/Prior Conviction.

Third Offense w/in Ten Years: Jail term of 30 days to one year, license suspension of two years to 12 years, fine of $850 to $2,750, restricted license plates, ignition interlock, vehicle forfeiture. Minimum jail term is doubled for OVI Per Se-High Test and for OVI Test Refusal w/Prior Conviction.

Felony-Fourth Offense w/in Ten Years or Sixth Offense w/in 20 Years: Jail/prison term of 60 days to 30 months, license suspension of three years to life, fine of $1,350 to $10,500, restricted license plates, ignition interlock, vehicle forfeiture. Minimum jail term is doubled for OVI Per Se-High Test and for OVI Test Refusal w/Prior Conviction.

Second Felony (Lifetime): Prison term of 60 days to 30 months, license suspension of three years to life, fine of $1,350 to $10,500, restricted license plates, ignition interlock, vehicle forfeiture. Minimum jail term is doubled for OVI Per Se-High Test and for OVI Test Refusal w/Prior Conviction.

Physical Control: Jail term of 0 to 180 days, license suspension of 0 days to one year, fine of $0 to $1,000. ORC 4511.194

OVUAC. Jail term of 0 to 30 days, license suspension of 90 days to two years, fine of $0 to $250. For a second offense within one year: Jail term of 0 to 60 days, license suspension of one year to five years, fine of $0 to $500.

BUI. Jail term of three to 180 days, fine of $150 to $1,000. Penalties increase based on prior convictions for BUI and OVI. BUI convictions enhance subsequent OVI mandatory penalties. ORC 1547.11

Implied Consent Law. ORC 4511.191 & 4511.192

The officer requesting the chemical test(s) must arrest the driver. The officer must have reasonable grounds to believe the driver is under the influence or has a prohibited concentration of alcohol and/or drugs. The officer must read a form to the driver which advised the driver of the consequences of refusal and testing at or over the prohibited concentrations of alcohol and/or drugs.

Any person who operates, or is in physical control of, a vehicle is deemed to have given consent to chemical tests of the person's blood, breath, and urine. Any person who is unconscious or otherwise in a condition rendering the person incapable of refusing is also deemed to have given consent.

If the driver refuses or tests at/over the prohibited concentration, the officer imposes an Administrative License Suspension. The length of the suspension ranges from 90 days to five years, depending on the driver's number of prior OVI convictions and test refusals.

The driver's initial court appearance must be held within five days. The driver may appeal the suspension at the initial court appearance or within 30 days of the suspension's beginning. There are four statutory grounds for appeal, and there are other statutory grounds for termination of the suspension. The appeal/termination motion is heard by the judge assigned to the OVI case.

Judges may grant limited driving privileges for Administrative License Suspensions. There is a waiting period (hard time) for privileges. The length of the waiting period depends on the type of suspension and the number of prior OVI convictions and test refusal.

Please see the below linked chart for a table which thoroughly explains the Administrative License Suspensions (ALS) and waiting periods for limited driving privileges.

Blood-Drawing Statute. Blood must be drawn within three hours of the alleged offense, and the blood draw must be done pursuant to the implied consent law or a search warrant. A blood sample may only be drawn by a physician, a registered nurse, an emergency medical technician-intermediate, an emergency medical technician-paramedic, or a qualified technician, chemist, or phlebotomist. If the blood sample is tested by a crime laboratory, the analysis must comply with regulations by the Ohio Department of Health. If the blood sample is tested by a medical facility, the analysis need not comply with those regulations, but there must be expert testimony at trial. ORC 4511.19(D)

Independent Test Statute. The arresting officer must advise the person he or she may have an independent test performed at their own expense. ORC 4511.19(D) & ORC 4511.192(B)

Plea Bargaining Statute. None

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