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DUI Penalties in Ohio

The penalties for DUI offenses depends on a number of factors, most particularly the level of the driver’s blood alcohol concentration and the number of prior DUI convictions on the driver’s record. There are numerous other “sentence enhancers” under Ohio law, factors which upon occurring during your DUI offense can increase your penalties. They will be discussed in depth below.

For a first DUI offense your penalties will include:

  • Administrative license suspension for 90 days if your BAC is above the legal limit
  • Administrative license suspension for 1 year if you refused to take the chemical BAC test at all
  • Mandatory 3 days of jail time or a 3-day driver intervention program (although court could decide to sentence you to both)
  • $375-$1075 fine
  • Court licensed suspension for 6 months to 3 years
  • License reinstatement fee of $475 and a remedial driving instruction course
  • Possible yellow DUI plates (mandatory if your chemical BAC was 0.17% or above)
  • Possible SCRAM bracelet
  • Possible ignition interlock device installed
  • Possible enrollment in alcohol treatment program
  • Possible additional jail time (but cumulative jail term [mandatory + additional] cannot exceed six months)

For a second DUI offense (unless your last DUI was a felony) your penalties will include:

  • Administrative license suspension for 1 year if your BAC is above the legal limit
  • Administrative license suspension for 2 years if you refused to take the chemical BAC test at all
  • Mandatory 10 days of jail time or, if there is not enough room in the jail, 5 days in jail with a minimum of 18 days of electronically monitored house arrest combined (not to exceed 6 months)
  • Possible additional jail term (cumulative jail term not to exceed six months)
  • $525-$1625 fine
  • Court licensed suspension for 1-5 years
  • License reinstatement fee of $475 and a remedial driving instruction course
  • Discretionary driver’s intervention program
  • Mandatory assessment by an alcohol and drug treatment program
  • Vehicle immobilization and plates impounded for 90 days
  • Required yellow DUI plates
  • Required SCRAM bracelet if granted limited driving privileges
  • Ignition interlock device installed

For a third DUI offense (unless one of your previous DUI convictions was charged as a felony) your penalties will include:

  • Administrative license suspension for 2 years if your BAC is above the legal limit
  • Administrative license suspension for 3 years if you refused to take the chemical BAC test at all
  • Mandatory 30 days of jail time or, if the jail is too full, 15 days in jail with a minimum of 55 days of electronically monitored house arrest combined (not to exceed one year)
  • Possible additional jail time (cumulative jail term not to exceed one year)
  • $850-$2750 fine
  • Court licensed suspension for 2-10 years
  • License reinstatement fee of $475 and a remedial driving instruction course
  • Mandatory enrollment in an drug/alcohol treatment program (which you will have to pay for)
  • Mandatory vehicle forfeiture
  • Required yellow DUI plates
  • Required SCRAM bracelet if granted limited driving privileges
  • Ignition interlock device installed

For a fourth (or more) DUI offense or if one of your previous DUI convictions was charged as a felony, your penalties will include:

  • Administrative license suspension for 3 years if your BAC is above the legal limit
  • Administrative license suspension for 5 years if you refused to take the chemical BAC test at all
  • Either 60 days to 1 year of local incarceration OR 1-5 years of jail time (depending on type of felony and court’s discretion)
  • $1350-$10500 fine
  • Court licensed suspension for 3 years to permanent suspension
  • License reinstatement fee of $475 and a remedial driving instruction course (this is, of course, if your license is not permanently suspended)
  • Mandatory enrollment in a drug/alcohol treatment program (which you will have to pay for)
  • Mandatory vehicle forfeiture
  • Required SCRAM bracelet if granted limited driving privileges
  • Ignition interlock installed (if your license not permanently suspended)
  • Required yellow DUI plates (if your license not permanently suspended)
  • Felony on your record if you are convicted

If your tested BAC was above 0.17 then you will fall under the Enhanced Penalty Blood Alcohol Concentration statute. This is discussed in more depth below. Basically, the Enhanced Penalty Blood Alcohol Concentration statute provides that those who are arrested with a certain BAC, elevated to twice over the legal limit, will face additional and harsher penalties than those who are arrested with a BAC over but close to the legal limit. If your BAC is found to be over this limit then you will be facing a mandatory 3 days in jail and 3-day driver intervention program (or six days of jail) if this is your first offense (the court could also order alcohol treatment); mandatory 20 days in jail (or term of electronically monitored house arrest) if this is your second offense; mandatory 60 days in jail (or term of electronically monitored house arrest) for your third offense; and mandatory 120 days of local incarceration if this is your fourth offense. The amount of mandatory jail time is the only change from the penalties listed above for regular DUI. You will also face the rest of the penalties listed, including possible additional jail time, alcohol treatment programs, and fines.

An administrative license suspension (ALS) starts immediately after you fail or refuse the chemical BAC test. The officer will confiscate your license and the suspension begins. This administrative license suspension is separate and independent of any suspension the court will give you once you have presented your case. Should you plead guilty to the OVI offense, the administrative license suspension would terminate. At the end of the administrative license suspension you must pay the license reinstatement fee and provide proof of insurance in order to get your driving privileges reinstated. You can appeal the administrative license suspension but in order to do so, you will need to request one quickly for an ALS hearing must be held within five days of your arrest. Only certain issues can be brought forward when challenging the ALS, specifically: 1) was the arrest based upon reasonable grounds? (Reasonable grounds would include all the circumstances of the pullover and arrest) 2) did the officer request the driver take a test? 3) was the offender made aware of the consequences if he refused or failed the test?/was he informed that the officer could use reasonable means to obtain a sample? and 4) did the offender refuse or fail the test? If you can prove a problem with your request in light of these issues, then the court may decide to revoke your suspension. HOWEVER, if the court considers you a threat to public safety then even if you can successfully prove problems with each of these issues then the court may still uphold your suspension.

If you have been required to use yellow DUI plates then it is illegal to drive without them or try to hide them. Anyone who attempts to do so will be guilty of a minor misdemeanor.

Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) bracelets are within the court’s discretion to mandate for any OVI offender but are required for felony offenders. They are required by any offender with two or more OVI convictions who wants limited driving privileges or if you have a prior ignition interlock tampering offense. SCRAM devices are designed as ankle bracelets and periodically measure a person’s blood alcohol concentration through his or her perspiration. The data is then transmitted wirelessly to a company who makes a record of the levels. If you are found to be drinking at all the court will be notified. You will be required to pay for all the monitoring costs of the device, $100 up-front to hook you up and $10 daily. How much time you will be required to wear the device depends on how many OVI convictions you’ve had.

If the court has mandated upon your DUI conviction that your vehicle is to be immobilized then you will face a $100 fee for the BMV to release your car. It is possible to obtain an immobilization waiver if it will be a hardship on your family’s household if the car is taken away. For example, if it were a one-car household and both parents work, it would be unfair to take away the car from the other spouse because one of them mishandled the privilege. The waiver allows the family to use the car during the period that the car would have been ordered immobilized. However, this waiver would need to be filed before the court orders immobilization and the waiver requires that the family attach special restricted plates to the vehicle ordered immobilized.

If your vehicle has been ordered forfeited then you will permanently lose your car. It will not be restored to you and you may not register another car in your name for five years.

In addition to the above penalties, an OVI conviction will also put six points on your driving record. This means that if your driving record has enough points on it prior to your conviction that when the OVI points are added you now have a sum of at least 12 on your driving record you will face an additional license suspension from the BMV called a “twelve point suspension”.


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