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OVI Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Know your rights! It is highly recommended to consult with an experienced attorney if you are facing OVI charges.

Know your rights! It is highly recommended to consult with an experienced attorney if you are facing OVI charges.

In Ohio, you can be convicted of driving under the influence if:

  • You have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 or higher
  • You are under the age of 21 and have a BAC level of 0.02 or higher in whole blood or breath but less than .08
  • You are a commercial driver with a BAC of 0.04 or higher

If you are arrested for an OVI in Ohio, you face charges that can be more serious than some felonies. Consequences increase in severity with repeat OVI DUI offenses. You can end up with a criminal record. Here are the penalties you face if you are convicted for a first time OVI:

First Ohio OVI (DUI) conviction

This is a misdemeanor of the first degree charge

  • Jail – three days (or three days in driver intervention program) up to six months
  • Administrative driver’s license suspension – ninety days (BAC test) or one year (refusal)
  • Court imposed Driver’s license suspension – one (formerly six mos.) to three years
  • Fines – $375 to $1,075
  • License reinstatement fee – $475
  • Optional unlimited driving privileges w/ignition interlock device (see OVI Consequences)
  • Six points


An OVI is typically a misdemeanor in Ohio. However, it can be charged as a felony under certain circumstances, such as multiple OVI convictions within a specific time frame or causing serious injury or death.

An experienced OVI attorney can help you challenge the legality of the traffic stop, the accuracy of the breath, blood, or urine test, or the officer’s observations and opinion of impairment.

The legal BAC limit in Ohio is 0.08% for drivers aged 21 and over, 0.04% for commercial drivers, and 0.02% for drivers under 21.

Penalties for an OVI in Ohio vary depending on the number of previous offenses and the driver’s BAC level. They can include jail time, fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol treatment programs, and the installation of an ignition interlock device. See our OVI Consequences page for more information

Refusing a test can result in an Administrative License Suspension (ALS) for one year for a first refusal and increasing penalties for subsequent refusals. Additionally, your refusal can be used as evidence against you in court.

Yes, if the officer determines that you are impaired due to alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both, even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you can still be charged with an OVI.

Under Ohio law, the officer can charge you with Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs, or a combination of them, based on the officer’s observations of your driving, your appearance at the scene, and your performance on field sobriety tests. If the officer believes your ability to operate the vehicle is noticeably impaired by alcohol, then he/she may arrest and charge you with OVI.

Once you are arrested and back at the station, if the officer asks you to submit to a breath test (or blood or urine test) and you test .08 BAC or higher (or its equivalent for blood or urine), then the officer will charge you with second OVI charge, for failing the test, based on you having a prohibited concentration of alcohol or drugs in your breath, blood or urine. Thus, you can be charged for two separate OVI offenses: one for impaired driving due to alcohol and/or drugs, the other for driving with a prohibited concentration of alcohol and/or drugs in your blood, breath or urine.

An OVI conviction in Ohio is a permanent part of your criminal record. However, for sentencing purposes, prior OVI convictions within the past 10 years enhance the penalties for a subsequent OVI. If you have a fourth OVI conviction in 10 years or a sixth OVI conviction in 20 years, it is a felony.

Yes, a license suspension is mandatory for OVI convictions in Ohio. The length of the suspension depends on the number of previous offenses and the specific circumstances of your case.

Limited driving privileges may be granted for work, school, medical appointments, or court-ordered treatment, depending on your circumstances and the judge’s discretion.

If you are under 21 and charged with an OVI, you can be charged with an “adult” OVI, which carries the standard penalties, or an “underage” OVI, Operating a Vehicle after Underage Consumption, also known as a “baby OVI.” If you are charged with an underage OVI, for a first offense you can receive up to 30 days in jail, a fine up to $250, and a mandatory license suspension of 90 days to 2 years and you must wait 60 days before you are eligible for driving privileges.

Penalties for multiple OVI convictions in Ohio are determined based on the number of prior convictions within a 10-year lookback period. Increased penalties apply with each subsequent OVI conviction.

An OVI becomes a felony in Ohio if you have four or more OVI convictions within 10 years, or if you have six or more OVI convictions within 20 years.

A first time felony OVI conviction in Ohio can result in a local period of incarceration of 60 days up to one year, or 60 days in prison with an option of an additional 6 months to 3 years and forfeiture of your vehicle. You also must attend a mandatory alcohol/drug addiction program. Fines can range from $1,350 to $10,500. License suspension can last from 3 years to a lifetime ban. See our OVI Consequences page for more information

OVI convictions are generally not eligible for expungement in Ohio. An OVI conviction remains on your criminal record permanently.

Yes, mandatory penalties for multiple OVI convictions within a specific time frame include increased jail time, higher fines, longer license suspensions, potential forfeiture of your vehicle, and the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Vehicle impoundment and removal of license plates are mandatory for two convictions in 10 years of OVI arrest with a prior OVI conviction or guilty plea in the previous 10 years or with a prior felony OVI conviction or guilty plea at any time in the past. The vehicle must be immobilized for 90 days upon conviction.

Prior OVI convictions from other states can be considered when determining penalties for an OVI conviction in Ohio if they are substantially similar to Ohio’s OVI laws.