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Implied Consent Law in Ohio

Ohio follows the implied consent law.  This means that all drivers within the state of Ohio implicitly agree that they will submit to a chemical test of their blood, breath or urine if an officer of the law suspects that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you refuse to submit to one of these tests, the officer will take your license, suspending your ability to drive, and you will be subject to a hearing in court. Your driver’s license will be suspended for a year since you refused to submit to the BAC test. However, for each additional offense of refusing to have your blood alcohol tested, the penalties will be higher and the suspensions longer.

If you have never been convicted of an OVI then the choice to participate with a chemical BAC test is your choice. You may refuse the test, the officer will inform you of the consequences of that decision and ask you again to comply. If you refuse again, it will go in the police record as a refusal ad you will face the penalties of that decision (explained below). You cannot refuse the test, however, even if this is your first offense according to the look back rule (in the last six years) if you’ve been convicted of an OVI offense in the last twenty years.

It might be in your best interests not to refuse to submit to a chemical BAC test. Refusing a chemical BAC test is a first-degree misdemeanor. The administrative license suspension (ALS) will be much longer if you refuse to take the test than if you fail the test. For a first offense, a refusal of the test will win you a yearlong suspension but if you fail the test than your ALS is only for 90 days. For a second offense, you will lose your license for a year if your BAC is over the legal limit but two years if you actually refuse to take the test. For a third DUI, your driving privileges will be suspended for 2 years if you fail the BAC chemical test but 3 years if you refuse the test. When you take into account that this extended suspension is immediate upon failing or refusing the BAC test and separate from an additional suspension that the court can mandate based on the details of your case, you do not want to add more time to your license suspension than necessary and refusing the test is a fast way to add time to the period you will not be driving.

In addition to the longer suspension periods, refusing the test allows the State of Ohio to “look back” further for prior convictions. If you refuse the chemical BAC test then it will activate the twenty-year look back rule. This means that instead of looking back six years for prior OVI convictions in order to determine what penalties you will be subjected to, instead the prosecution can now look back TWENTY years. So if you’ve had no convictions in the last six years, normally your present offense would be counted as a first-offense. But now that you’ve refused the chemical BAC, you will be judged on any convictions you’ve had in the last twenty years. So if you had a drinking problem fifteen years ago with several OVIs, it doesn’t matter that you cleared up the problem and have now been sober for fifteen years. The fact that you’ve refused the chemical BAC allows the court to look at those prior convictions and judge you with MUCH harsher penalties then you would have been facing under a first offense.

If you have had two or more DUI convictions, the officer is required by law to obtain a chemical alcohol or drug test by ANY sort of reasonable means. So even if you refuse the officer is authorized to obtain a sample from you and you will still face the above penalties for refusing the test.


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