Although most states call drunk driving driving under the influence (DUI), Ohio refers to it as operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI). Despite the difference in name, the charges are largely the same as DUI charges in other states.
In Ohio, anyone who tests at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher could face charges, as could anyone with a lower BAC who displays significant impairment at the wheel. What are the penalties that Ohio assesses for a first-time OVI conviction?
A first impaired driving charge carries multiple consequences
The more OVI offenses that someone has on their record, the steeper the penalties they could face are. Although the consequences escalate with each subsequent conviction, that doesn’t mean a first offense is something you can just ignore.
Whether you refuse a chemical breath test or have a test that shows you are over the legal limit, you will immediately have your license suspended. You have 30 days after your arraignment to challenge that suspension. If you don’t challenge it, you will not have a license for between one and three years.
Most OVI first-time offenders will have to spend at least three days in jail, although a judge could sentence them to up to six months of jail time. Fines can also exceed $1,000, in addition to license fees, increases in insurance premiums and court costs.
Avoiding a first OVI puts you in a safer position
Once you have an OVI on your record, the courts can look back at least 10 years to increase your penalties. For those who refuse a chemical breath test, that lookback period increases to 20 years.
Avoiding a first-time OVI conviction means not only avoiding the legal consequences and loss of your license but also the potential for escalating consequences if you ever get arrested again in the future.