Ohio DUI Laws & Penalties

Drinking and driving claims thousands of lives every year, and states have harsh penalties for those who get behind the wheel while intoxicated. Ohio's legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is below .08%. Anyone over the age of 21 years old with a BAC of .08% or higher can be charged with Operating a Vehicle Impaired or OVI. However, those under the age of 21 years old can be charged with Operating a Vehicle after Under Age Consumption (OVUAC) for having a BAC of just .02%. If your BAC is above the legal limit, you will be charged with an OVI/DUI regardless of your age.

While you should never drive drunk, it's a good idea to understand the consequences of doing so.

Ohio OVUAC Penalties

Should you choose to drink and drive behind-the-wheel as a minor, you could face the following penalties detailed in the chart below.

ConvictionBACFinesJail TimePointsLicense Suspension
1st OVUAC.02%–.08%Up to $250Up to 30 days490 days to 2 years
2nd OVUAC.02%–.08%Up to $500Up to 60 days4Up to 5 years

As stated above, those under 21 years old face charges for driving with a BAC as low as .02%. For a first-time conviction, these penalties include possible jail time, fines up to $250, 4-points on your driver's license and a 90 day to two-year license suspension. In addition to the basic penalties, you may be required to:

  • Retake driving tests (knowledge and skills)
  • Have a "DUI" or yellow license plate
  • Take an 8-hour remedial driving class
  • Install an ignition interlock device
  • Serve five days in a detention facility
  • Sign up for alcohol treatment
  • Stay on probation after license suspension is lifted
  • Periodically provide the Ohio BMV with proof of insurance

Underage Consumption Charge

Drinking while under the age of 21 is illegal, and if you are convicted with an OVUAC you may also face an underage consumption charge. This charge can include up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. These penalties will stack on top of whatever you receive for your OVUAC.

Ohio DUI Penalties

If you are under 21 years old and have a BAC of .08% or higher, you will face a DUI/OVI charge. The penalties for a DUI/OVI are more severe and are detailed in the chart below.

ConvictionBACFinesJail TimePointsLicense Suspension
1st DUI.08%–.17%$500–$1,00010 days to 1 year66 months to 3 years
2nd DUI.08%–.17%$350–$1,5001–5 years61–5 years

Should you have a BAC of .08% or higher, you could face fines up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail, not to mention a three-year license suspension for your first conviction. As with an OVUAC, additional penalties may apply, like probation, ignition interlock device installation, and mandatory alcohol treatment.

Refusing the breathalyzer test

While you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer or chemical test, you should keep in mind that a refusal will not protect you from a conviction. What it will do, however, is suspend your license for a year, though you may regain the privilege to drive to school or work after 30 days.

Impact on Your Future

An OVUAC or DUI/OVI conviction will follow you for the rest of your life. Employers can request a criminal history, and you may lose a job opportunity because of it. Colleges and universities also have the right to refuse you admittance or expel you due to an OVUAC or DUI/OVI. You will also see a significant insurance premium increase.

The penalties listed above are the minimum charges and do not include several administrative fees the state can charge you. Should you injure yourself, someone else, or property, these charges will also increase significantly.

In the end, drinking and driving is not worth the risk. Be smart and follow the law. Don't drink until you are 21 years old, and never drive if you're under the influence at any age.