What happens if I get convicted of drunk or drugged driving in Ohio?

Each case will be handled differently, depending on your age, degree of intoxication and impairment, and criminal history. To keep things simple up front, though, the recommended penalty chart for a driver older than 21 being convicted of operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) for the first time looks like this:

Type of PenaltySentence
Criminal RecordFirst-degree misdemeanor
Incarceration3-180 days in jail
Driver Intervention Program (DIP)Can be required instead of jail
Fines$375-$1,075 in addition to court costs
Substance Abuse TreatmentOptional (that is, the judge decides if this is warranted)
License Suspension6 months to 3 years, affecting all private, commercial, and motorcycle endorsements
Total Revocation of Driving PrivilegesAt least 15 days, meaning you cannot even drive to and from work or school, doctors’ appointments, or court-ordered courses
Use of OVI Offender PlatesOptional
Use of Ignition Interlock DeviceOptional
Vehicle Immobilization or ForfeitureNo

Some of those don't sound familiar. What is the Driver Intervention Program, for instance?

The DIP is a two- or three-day course during which participants learn about alcohol and drug abuse, addiction treatment resources, and what can happen if they receive additional OVI convictions. Enrolling requires paying a fee of $300-400. If you need to travel to participate, you must also pay for your own hotel, meals, and other expenses.

What are offender plates and an ignition interlock?

Starting in 2004, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) began issuing specially designed licensed plates to drivers who had multiple OVI convictions. The plates have a yellowish-orange background and bright red letters and numbers. Judges have the authority to require offender plates for any person found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Ignition interlocks work like Breathalyzers. Drivers must blow into a tube connected to the starter on their car's engine. If the device detects any alcohol, the car will not start.

You must pay for any offender plates and interlocks. The interlock also requires regular inspections and calibrations at your expense.

At least I won't lose my car, right?

No, at least not permanently after a first-time OVI conviction. Keep in mind, however, that your car will almost definitely get towed and impounded when you are arrested for driving while impaired. Reclaiming your vehicle from the police can be complicated and expensive, especially if the arresting officer seizes and suspends your driver's license shortly after charging you.

Wait. Did you just write that I can face OVI penalties even before I go to court?

Yes. If you refuse to provide breath, urine, and blood samples for alcohol and drug testing, you can lose your license to an administrative license suspension, or ALS. That can also happen if you have prior OVI convictions, if you register a very high blood alcohol content, or if you hold a commercial driver's license and were arrested while driving for work.

The rules on DUI license suspensions are complex and punitive. You can read more about this, as well as how you can appeal an ALS, by clicking over to this page on the Campbell Law website.

The very possibility that you may spend as much as a year with a suspended license before even going to court to defend yourself against an OVI charge highlights why you need advice and representation from a dedicated and caring Columbus defense lawyer.

What can happen if I get convicted of OVI more than once?

All of the penalties outlined above apply, but they become more severe. For instance, vehicle immobilization (e.g., booting) becomes mandatory after a second drunk or drugged driving conviction within a six-year period. A 10-year license suspension becomes a possibility with a third conviction, and a mandatory stay in local jail or state prison is imposed for a fourth conviction within a six-year period.

If you find yourself facing multiple OVI charges in Ohio, contacting a Columbus DUI lawyer as soon as possible can only benefit you.

Do drivers younger than 21 face the same OVI penalties as adults?

Generally, yes. Underage DUI penalties in Ohio can differ in terms of license suspensions and license points, but jail, fines, and court orders for treatment apply equally to drunk and drugged drivers of all ages.

Outside of the courts, young OVI offenders may be disciplined by school administrators or student conduct boards. A knowledgeable college student DUI lawyer in Columbus will be able to explain possible complications like these to teens, young adults, and their families.

Will pleading guilty to a different offense like reckless driving/reckless operation reduce my penalties?

There is no way to answer this question without knowing all the unique facts related to your case. If a prosecutor offers plea down from OVI, you should review the implications of accepting the proposal with an experienced OVI defense attorney.

How can I find a lawyer to help me with my DUI/OVI Case?

Contact Campbell Law.

Our lead attorney, April Campbell, relies on her many years of experience prosecuting drunk and drugged drivers to now conduct successful defenses. She knows where officers make mistakes and how evidence from sobriety tests can be called into question. Trust Campbell to protect you from unfair OVI penalties.