Ohio OVI Operating a Vehicle Impaired Frequently Asked Questions

Ohio’s law on driving while intoxicated is one of the most complex areas of both criminal and traffic law. With the number of serious consequences, it is important to seek experienced counsel if you or someone you know has been charged with an OVI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired).

What is this .08% I hear so much about?

.08% is the per se whole blood or breath OVI limit. That goes up to .17% for what is often called a high tier OVI. A per se limit is only half the law, you can be charged for an OVI with a result below that if the State believes they can prove intoxication.

In addition, there are different levels for different tests, such as .11 for urine. There are also different per se levels for the other drugs of intoxication.

People who are operating a commercial vehicle or are under the age of 21 also have different sets of limits.

So I could be charged with an OVI for blowing .05%?

Yes, and convicted because the per se limits are not an absolute defense. The State has to prove intoxication, and they can do that in various ways, including erratic driving, officer testimony, or other symptoms such as slurred speech or confusion.

Can I go to jail for an OVI?

Yes, first time OVIs carry a maximum of 180 days in jail and have a mandatory minimum of 3 days. Multiple offenses, refusals of testing, and higher test results can also lead to higher penalties.

Do I have to go to jail for an OVI?

Every case and every court are different. You may be eligible for a driver intervention program in lieu of jail on a first time OVI, but not all charges or courts allow this. Negotiations can also lead to different outcomes, but each case and each court vary so you should contact an experienced OVI lawyer to handle your case. An experienced attorney can advise you on how to minimize jail time for your specific situation.

I’ve heard I can just get a reduction to physical control, is that true?

Often a reduction to physical control or other offense is a strategy in OVI cases, but it is not a simple process. The facts and procedural history of every case matter. You should contact an experience OVI lawyer to discuss the specific facts of your case.

I have a previous OVI will that count against me?

Yes, previous OVIs enhance the charges penalties if they are within the last ten years. However, there can be issues with establishing the enhancement and you should discuss them with your counsel.

What if it was out of state?

Yes, out of state convictions can be used to enhance the charges and penalties, but if there is a question as to timing or whether the charge is equivalent you need to discuss it with your attorney.

What is an Administrative License Suspension or ALS?

The ALS is a civil license forfeiture that results for refusing a test or testing above the per se limits.

Can I get my license back during the process?

Yes, you can either get your license back by appealing the ALS suspension, or completing the hard time on your suspension and asking the court for privileges. The length of hard time on a suspension varies based on your record and the test results. You should consult an attorney to determine the specific time on your suspension

Will my license be suspended again if I plead to an OVI?

Yes, OVIs carry license suspensions, but sometimes the court can count time served on an ALS as credit against the sentencing suspension. Each case and court varies so you should contact your lawyer to discuss any credit or suspension.

Will I have to use an interlock device or get special plates?

If convicted of an OVI, or applying for driving privileges under certain conditions you may be required to get an interlock device or special plates. These vary from case to case and from court to court so you should contact a lawyer to discuss your options.

When it is all over how do I get my license back?

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles will reinstate your license once you’ve completed your suspension, paid your reinstatement fee and shown proof of insurance.

What if my license expires in the middle of my suspension?

The timing of a license renewal can cause headaches as you typically cannot renew a suspended license, but some courts may be willing to give you a court order allowing for a renewal. As this is a very fact specific question you should discuss this with your attorney at the time of sentencing.