Driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) is an offence committed when a driver operates a vehicle after the consumption of alcohol or drugs or other intoxicants. Increased alcohol levels in the driver's blood lead to diminished mental and motor reactions which, in turn, reduce the driver's ability to control the vehicle. This significantly increases the risk of the driver committing errors of judgment and often results in accidents causing severe injuries and even death.
In Ohio, as in the rest of the US, drunk driving is the single largest cause of motor vehicle related fatalities and accounts for an alarmingly high 40% to 50% of the total number of motor vehicle related deaths every year.
REGULATIONS FOR DUI/DWI IN OHIO
In Ohio, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is set at 0.08% for drivers over 21 years of age and it is set at 0.02% for those under 21. For commercial drivers, the limit is set at 0.04%.
Having an Ohio license automatically provides your consent to be tested if stopped by a law enforcement officer, while driving. This is the law of "implied consent" and can be used by the officer to test you if you are stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving, either through a breathalyzer test or by an actual blood test to check the BAC. Refusing to take the chemical test will result in your license being suspended for anything between 90 days to five years.
Points will be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended or revoked, if you convicted of DUI/DWI. DUI and DWI are together grouped under Operating the Vehicle under the Influence (OVI). The number of points assessed, depend on the severity of the offense and the number of times you have been convicted for it.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS OVER 21:
If you are over 21 years old, and are caught with BAC higher than the set limit of 0.08%, you may be subjected to criminal actions in addition to administrative actions. If the DUI/DWI incident you are involved in is subjected to criminal action, it is recommended that you get in touch with a DUI/DWI lawyer as they are experts at handling such incidents and can offer you the best advice.
- The first offense may result in imprisonment for three days and/or a fine between $200 and $1000. Also, if convicted for a first offense BAC or DWI (BAC over 0.08%):
- Your license will be suspended (Administrative License Suspension) for one year for refusing to take the test.
- You may have to take the three-day driver intervention program.
- You may face Court License Suspension for 6 months up to three years.
- The second offense may result in imprisonment for 10 days up to one year and/or a fine between $300 and $1500. Also, if convicted for the second offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
- Your license will be revoked for two years for refusing to take the test.
- You may face 18 days to six months of electronically monitored house arrest.
- You will have to attend a discretionary driver intervention program.
- You could face vehicle immobilization for 90 days.
- You may face Court License Suspension for a minimum of one year to a maximum of five years.
- The third offense may result in imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine between $500 and $2500. Also, if convicted for the third offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
- Your license will be revoked for a year for refusing to take the test.
- You could face 15 days imprisonment or a minimum of 55 consecutive days of electronically monitored house arrest.
- You will have to pay for and attend an alcohol treatment program.
- You may face vehicle immobilization for 180 days.
- You may face Court License Suspension for a minimum of one year to a maximum of 10 years.
- The fourth or more offense is treated as a Motor Vehicle Related Felony and may result in imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine between $750 and $10,000. Also, if convicted for the fourth offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
- Your license will be revoked for five years for refusing to take the test.
- You will have to pay for and attend an alcohol treatment program.
- The Court may impose vehicle forfeiture.
- You may face Court License Suspension for a minimum of three year to permanent revocation.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21
- If you are under 18 years of age and are convicted of alcohol related violations while holding a temporary permit or a probationary license, you could face suspension for about six months.
- Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to minors if they are convicted of DUI/DWI.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DRIVERS
If you drive a commercial vehicle and hold a commercial driver license (CDL):
- You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for a year, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04% or under the influence of a controlled substance for the first time. You could face the same penalty if you refuse to take the blood, breath or urine test or are found using the commercial vehicle in the commission of a felony. You will also be issued an "out-of-service" order valid for 24 hours by the arresting officer.
- You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for at least three years, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04% while transporting hazardous materials.
- You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for life if you are convicted for any of these offenses for the second time.
- Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to commercial drivers for their first and second offenses of DUI/DWI. The other penalties do not apply since they are barred after the second offense.
ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI:
According to the Ohio DUI law an officer may arrest a driver if:
- He/she is aged 21 and above and is driving with BAC 0.08% or more.
- He/she is aged below 21 and is driving with BAC 0.02% or more.
The driver can schedule an administrative hearing within five days of the arrest. It is a good idea to consult a DUI/DWI lawyer
beforehand. The court can order vehicle immobilization and impound license plates for 30 days for first offense driving under DUI suspension, 60 days for second offense and forfeiture for a third offense. The same is the case when driving under suspension without insurance. You could also face a penalty for driving under FRA suspension, 30 days for a first offense, 60 days for a second offense, forfeiture for a third offense.
You can regain your license when it is time by paying a fine of $425 and by showing proof of financial responsibility.
LICENSE REINSTATEMENT AFTER DUI/DWI SUSPENSION/REVOCATION:
If you are convicted of DUI/DWI, it will result in your license being suspended
or revoked. This means that your driving privileges will be taken away and you will need to apply for a reinstatement of your license with the BMV, once the period of suspension or revocation is over. Reinstating a license after a suspension of a year, or revocation will also mean taking the driving tests all over again. These will include the vision test, knowledge test
and the road test. If you do not complete the reinstatement requirements, the license will remain suspended or revoked.
- To complete the reinstatement requirements, you must pay the appropriate here, provide required Proof of Identity and maintain proof of financial responsibility by filing SR-22, if required.
- If you are being convicted for a second time, it is mandatory for the court to order an ignition interlock device to be placed for breathalyser tests on any vehicle you drive.
- You can submit the reinstatement application and fees in person at any of the Regional Service Centers which collects reinstatement fees.