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DUI, DWI and OVI Penalties in Cleveland, OH


Operating a vehicle under the influence is the general charge in the state of Ohio. It includes DUI, DWI and operating a vehicle after underage consumption (OVAUC). An OVI offense is incurred if testing can show that a vehicle was operated with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. For commercial drivers, the limit is 0.04 percent, and for underage persons the limit is 0.02 percent.


The state of Ohio does not legally compel anyone to submit to a chemical alcohol test, but refusing to do so can result in automatic license suspension and will not automatically exempt you from criminal charges. Remember that a chemical test is different from a field sobriety test, which you can always refuse. In some cases you can submit your own third-party test, but the overarching rules are more than a little complicated. Your best bet is to contact your lawyer or law firm when you can or submit to a breath test at the station.

OVI Administrative Penalties

The penalties for any OVI will result in points on a license and some suspension of your driver’s license. This varies by offense:

  • 1st Offense. 90 day suspension and 6 points on your license.
  • 2nd Offense. 1 year suspension.
  • 3rd Offense. 2 year suspension.
  • 4th offense. 3 year suspension.

For underage drivers, the minimum penalty is four points on the license and a suspension anywhere from 90 days to 5 years.

Refusing to take a chemical test has its own list of penalties:

  • 1st Offense. 1 year suspension.
  • 2nd Offense. 2 year suspension.
  • 3rd Offense. 3 year suspension.
  • 4th Offense. 5 year suspension.

Criminal Penalties for DUI and DWI

You can face criminal charges if you are convicted of an OVI offense. These penalties are much harsher than their administrative counterparts. They vary depending on your BAC and how many offenses are on your record.

1st Offense

If your BAC tests between 0.08 and 0.17 percent, you will face a mandatory imprisonment of 72 hours or a court-ordered driver intervention program. Fines range from $375 to $1,075, and a license suspension can range from 6 months to 3 years. If you test over 0.17 percent, the prison time, charges and fees can all increase.

2nd Offense

The second time around, you’ll be looking at up to 6 months of house arrest, imprisonment and/or alcohol monitoring. Fees jump to $50 to $1,625, and license suspension will range from 1 to 5 years. Additionally, you can face a 90-day vehicle impound and a court ordered drug or alcohol assessment.

3rd Offense

The third offense is generally considered a last offense. If you are convicted more than three times, you’ll face felony charges and the harsh sentences that come with it. For the third, you’ll be looking at 30 days to 1 year of imprisonment, house arrest and/or alcohol monitoring. Fines will range from $850 to $2,750 and your license will be gone for 2 to 10 years. You can also expect to have to undergo drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment.

OVI charges in Ohio are complicated and can potentially ruin you life. Law enforcement is not universally right in their assessments. You have the right to fight for yourself, and a seasoned attorney is your best weapon in that battle.

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